Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient healing art that deals with the physiology, pathology, diagnosis, and the treatment of a range of conditions and ailments. It is based upon a combination of scientific and philosophical theories that were established thousands of years ago, with a wide range of applications that are still in use today.
TCM is based upon the theories of “yin” and “yang,” “qi” (energy), and the Five Elements. The concepts of yin/yang (female/male) and the Five Elements can trace their origins in observations of the cycles of nature. In traditional Chinese medicine, the qi, blood, and body fluids are essential substances, whose unimpeded flow keeps the organs and tissues healthy. The meridian system is vital to TCM and is comprised of the pathways along which energy flows. Within this system there are 12 regular channels – six yin and six yang – and two extra channels. Energy flows upwards within the yin channels and downwards within the yang meridians. Besides these, there are supplementary channels, collateral channels, and divergent channels, which control the flow of energy into and out of the internal organs and systems. The development of a disease results from a stagnation or blockage of vital flow.
Unlike Western medicine, which relies in large part upon technology and test results to formulate a diagnosis, TCM relies upon the five senses to assess a patient’s condition. By means of a visual inspection, listening to the sounds of the body, and touching or palpating, health can be assessed to provide vital information about overall wellbeing. To treat issues that arise, TCM relies upon the practices of acupuncture and massage, cupping, moxibustion, and herbal remedies.