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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 philosophical framework.

    TCM Theory
    TCM Diagnostics
    TCM Treatment Techniques
    TCM and Science
    Does it work?
    How does it work?
    Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine


    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 fields.

    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 Theory

    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 Diagnostics

    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.

    Diagnostic Techniques

    • 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 patient
    • The last but not the least.. TCM considers the patient’s observations, description and and remarks related to her/his own contition (n.red – www.soothe.ca )

    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:

    • Acupuncture
    • Herbology
    • Moxibustion(2)
    • Nutrition or food therapy
    • Cupping(3)
    • Qi-gong exercises and Medical qigong
    • Gua Sha or coin-rubbing
    • Plum blossom(4) or seven-star
    • Acupressure, and various styles of massage such as Tuina
    • Sonopuncture or phonophorese--the use of sound vibration on acupoints
    • Auriculotherapy
    • T'ai Chi Ch'uan and other Chinese martial arts

    TCM and Science

    There are two questions about TCM which can be investigated scientifically:

    • Does it work?
    • How does it work?

    Next Page

    1) Chemotherapy (pronounced keem-o-therapy) is the use of certain drugs to treat disease, as distinct from other forms of treatment, such as surgery. Chemotherapy dates at least as far back as the use, by the Indians of Peru, of cinchona bark in the treatment of fevers, such as malaria. The first modern chemotheraputic agent was Paul Ehrlich's arsphenamine, an arsenic compound discovered in 1909 and used to treat syphilis. This was later followed by sulfonamides discovered by Domagk and penicillin G discovered by Alexander Fleming.
    2) Moxibustion is the TCM therapy utilizing moxa, or mugwort herb. The mugwort is usually aged and ground up to a fluff, burned as is or further processed into a stick that resembles a cigar, but is not smoked. Moxa is used to warm regions and acupuncture points.
    3) Cupping is a TCM therapy involving the placement of glass, plastic, or bamboo cups on the skin with a vacuum. The therapy is used to relieve what is called "stagnation" in TCM terms, and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Cupping is also used to treat back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal pain. It has other applications as well.
    4) Plum blossom or seven star is the light tapping of an area of the body with a small sterile hammer which has seven points. This technique is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy.


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