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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the name commonly
given to a range of traditional medical practices originating in China
thousands of years ago. Primary medical theoretical foundation of TCM includes
that of Five Elements and Yin-yang. Treatments are done with reference to this
In the West, TCM is often considered alternative medicine (CAM), while in both
Mainland China and on Taiwan, TCM is widely considered to be an integral part
of the health care system. Chinese medical practitioners before the 19th
century relied essentially on observation, trial and error. Like their
counterparts in the West, they had a very different understanding of infection
which predated the discovery of bacteria, viruses (germ theory of disease) or
cellular structures and little knowledge of organic chemistry, relying mainly
on a medical theory describing the nature of infections and remedies as well as
tradition to guide their courses of treatment.
Traditional Chinese Medicine continues as a distinct branch of modern medical
practice, and within China, it is an important part of the public health care
system. There are thousands of years of empirical knowledge about TCM on its
own terms, and in recent decades there has been an effort to place traditional
Chinese medicine on a firmer Western scientific empirical and methodological
basis as well as efforts to integrate Chinese and Western medical traditions.
That this effort has occurred is surprising to many for a number of reasons. In
most of the world, indigenous medical practices have been supplanted by
practices brought from the West, while in Chinese societies, this has not
occurred and shows no sign of occurring. Furthermore, many have found it
peculiar that Chinese medicine remains a distinct branch of medicine separate
from Western medicine, while the same has not happened with other intellectual
In the West, TCM is usually regarded as a form of alternative medicine (CAM).
TCM is used by some to treat the side effects of chemotherapy(1),
treating the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of drug addicts and treating a
variety of chronic conditions that conventional medicine is claimed to be
sometimes ineffective in treating. TCM has also been used to treat
antibiotic-resistant infections. Chinese medicine hospitals also perform some
emergency medicine such as prevention and treatment of shock and seizure. The
general distinction made by Chinese in China is that Western medicine involves
cutting while Chinese medicine involves manipulation.
TCM is based on the philosophical concept that if balance is restored, the
person heals. TCM seeks to balance yin and yang, Qi, Blood, Jing, Body fluids,
the Five Elements, the emotions, and the spirit (Shen).
TCM requires skill in a range of diagnostic systems not commonly used outside
of TCM. Much of this diagnostic skill involves developing the abilities to
observe subtle appearances; to observe that which is right in front of us, but
escapes the observation of most people.
Palpation of the patient's radial artery pulse in six positions
Observation of the appearance of the patient's tongue
Observation of the patient's face (shen)
Palpation of the patient's body (especially the abdomen for tenderness
Observation of the sound of the patient's voice
Observation of the surface of the ear
Observation of the vein on the index finger on small children
Anything else that can be observed without instruments and without harming the
The last but not the least.. TCM considers the patient’s observations,
description and and remarks related to her/his own contition (n.red –
TCM Treatment Techniques
TCM utilizes numerous techniques or healing modalities to achieve the desired
balance of Yin and Yang as well as Qi, Blood, Jing (Body Fluids), and Shen
(Mind/Spirit). These include: