Introduction To Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Since its origination in China, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has evolved over many thousands of years. The practice centers around the use of various medicinal herbs, combined with mind-body coordination techniques, to deliver lasting relief from many common ailments including aches and pains, digestive disorders, blood-related disorders, fatigue and stress relief.
Firmly grounded in the ancient Taoism philosophy, TCM can be traced back over 2,500 years. Its principles are similar in concept to other medical traditions found in several South and East Asian countries, including Korea and Japan. In some instances, those traditions are also thought to be heavily influenced by TCM.
TCM is not really a “singular” form of medical practice. It includes a number of sub-disciplines, such as Tui Na (Chinese therapeutic massage), moxibustion (lighting of herbs above the skin to apply heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, Tai chi and Qi gong (the combination of mental harmony, deliberate breathing and slow movements and postures) and dietary therapy.
Of course, the most renowned and well known family member of TCM is Acupuncture, a system of pricking the skin with needles at specific points, which results in relieving pain, and in the treatment of a number of mental, physical and emotional conditions.
Like all other forms of medical practice, TCM espouses certain tenants which help guide its practitioners in its application. Key amongst these beliefs are:
- The fact that the human body is a diminutive reproduction of the universe that surrounds it
- Two complimentary but opposing forces of that universe, Yin and Yang, are at the center of the human body’s health. Any imbalance between these forces causes ill-health
- Earth, Fire, Wood, Water and Metal are symbolisms that equate to every phenomena that the human body experiences, including the various stages of the human life cycle
- Qi is the energy that flows throughout the human body and in instrumental in governing good health
TCM practitioners treat Zang (Heart, Spleen, Liver, Lung, Kidney) and Fu (Large/Small Intestines, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder, Stomach) as organs in the body that determine health and wellness of a patient. According to TCM theory, these organs and the surface tissues of our body are linked via an intricate network of blood vessels and channels that spread throughout the body.
Given this interconnect, which is linked through the Qi (or Chi) energy force, TCM practitioners believe that:
- any disruption/imbalance in the surface tissue will directly cause a disruptive effect on the Zang-Fu organs
- any disruption/imbalance in the Sang-Fu organs will manifest themselves as disruptive forces on the surface tissue
TCM has its own detailed practice around the clinical diagnosis and subsequent treatment of various ailments that afflict the human body. The essence of TCM centers around a careful analysis of the whole human body, and once the sources and causes of the disruption are detected, practitioners then proceed to perform adjustments to the Zang-Fu organs through a process of realignment.