Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Complementary Health Practices
Traditional Chinese Medicine
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient set of practices from China that operate under the belief that the processes of the human body are interrelated and connected to the environment. TCM practitioners approach healthcare from a holistic standpoint, looking for the underlying imbalances and disharmonies behind an illness. The practitioner will look at the whole picture and try to treat the patient, instead of just the disease.
What is the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine originated out of Taoist beliefs established over 4,000 years ago. Today TCM has been refined and adapted, but many of the practices are performed as they have been for thousands of years.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has always been an important component of healthcare in China, but over the past few decades, it has grown in popularity in the Western world as well. Today, practices such as acupuncture, T’ai Chi and herbal treatments can be found in many health centers, and scientific studies have shown promising health benefits.
Qi and Yi and Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
What is Qi?
Central to TCM is the belief in an energy, known as qi, which is roughly translated as "life energy." Qi is believed to flow through a number of channels, or meridians, throughout the body, many of which follow major veins and arteries and connect to the internal organs to circulate qithroughout the body. Qi can be described in many ways, according to the source, the location and the role it plays in the body. Regulating and stimulating the flow of Qi is a basic tenet of understanding the role of disease and health in the body.
What are Yin and Yang?
The terms yin and yang are used to describe the opposing conditions in the body, and come from the Chinese belief that all things have two aspects, which are at once opposite and interdependent. Practitioners believe that a balance of yin and yang is necessary for health.
Yin describes qualities that are dark, passive, feminine, receptive, and associated with the night. Yin is often symbolized by water or earth.
Yang describes qualities that are light, bright, active, masculine and associated with the day. Yang is symbolized by fire or air.
Within the body, each organ has qualities of both yin and yang, though some organs and functions may have more of one quality than the other. For instance, the heart is considered a yin organ, while the stomach is considered a yang organ.
What practices are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
All practices within Traditional Chinese Medicine revolve around the same set of beliefs and philosophies. Because it is a holistic, or complete health care system, it includes practices to govern diet and nutrition, exercise and spirituality along with the more specialized practices of acupuncture, acupressure, T’ai Chi, herbal medicine, and Qigong.
Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Time, Inc.
Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies by Anne Woodham and Dr. David Peters.
Alternative Healing: The Complete A-Z Guide to more than 150 Alternative Therapies by Mark Kastner, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., and Hugh Burroughs. Henry Holt and Company: 1996
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