Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological change of the human body and its interrelationships. 

Some typical therapies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine include acupuncture, herbal medicine and gigong exercises.  These therapies appear very different in approach but all share the same underlying sets of assumptions and insights in the nature of the human body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment starts with the analysis of the entire system, then focuses on the correction of pathological changes through readjusting the functions of the organs.  Treatment is not based only on the symptoms but also the syndromes (cause, mechanism, location and nature of the disease).

Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture are the treatments most commonly used by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners although there are many other therapies that fall under the category of TCM such as moxibustion, cupping, tai chi and dietary therapy to name a few.

Conditions that Traditional Chinese Medicine has been known to help:

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Frequently Asked Questions About Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine views humans as microcosms of the surrounding universe; interconnected with nature and the forces of it.  The framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine contains several components:

Ying-Yang theory

  • the theory that two opposing yet complimentary forces shape the world and life

Eight Principles

  • used to analyze conditions and symptoms (cold/heat, yin/yang, excess/deficiency, interior/exterior)

Five Elements

  • fire, water, earth, wood, metal


  • a system of pathways which the life force (qi) circulates through in the body

How to Select a TCM Practitioner

Traditional Chinese Medicine is typically delivered by a practitioner.  Typically the student must attend at least three years of training to be qualified to sit for a licensing exam to become a certified TCM practitioner.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner will combine four methods of diagnosis:

1.  Inspection - observing anything unusual about the patient's appearance

2.  Listening and Smelling - listen to the patient's voice and notice how they smell

3.  Questioning - asking the patient about their medical history and symptoms

4.  Palpitation - finding out the pulse rate and it's nature as well as by pressing the skin, hands, feet, chest and abdominal areas to check for pathological changes

A comprehensive view of all the body's symptoms and signs has to be undertaken before any diagnosis can be made.

Before choosing a practitioner, it is important to discuss with them their style of treatment and qualifications, fees for services and your specific health concerns.

History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is the third oldest form of medicine, behind Egyptian and Babylonian medicine. 

The oldest received work of Chinese medical theory (Internal Classic of the Yellow Emperor) was compiled around the first century BCE.  It offers explanations of the relationship between humans, their environment and the universe as well as human vitality and pathology, symptoms of illness and how to make a diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

Between 196 and 220 CE drug therapy began to combine with Yinyang and the Five Phases theories and the evolution of texts on grouping symptoms into clinically useful patterns that could serve as targets for therapy.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is the sum of the sum of knowledge gained by all the nationalities of China in fighting disease and maintaining good heath over thousands of years.

Questions and Comments about Traditional Chinese Medicine

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