Traditional chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is thousands of years old and has changed little over the centuries. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body. Any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. This imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by an alteration in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the Qi. These are called yin and yang.
Ancient Chinese believed that humans are microcosms of the larger surrounding universe, and are interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The balance between health and disease is a key concept. TCM treatment seeks to restore this balance through treatment specific to the individual.
Chinese herbal remedies date back at least 2,200 years, although the earliest known written record of Chinese medicine is the Huangdi neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) from the 3rd century BCE.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine therapy is a mixture of Chinese herbs prescribed by Chinese herbalists depending on the differentiation of the patient’s syndrome according to Chinese diagnostic patterns (inspection, listening, smelling, inquiry, and palpation). Studies have reported that Chinese herbal formula, such as San Wu Huangqin Decoction, Lianhuaqingwen Capsule, and Yinhuapinggan granule, possesses antiviral effects, which might be associated with blocking of the proliferation and replication of the viral particles, and that they might be able to improve lung damage by influenza viruses. During the SARS epidemics, traditional Chinese herbal medicine treatments were reported to have successfully prevented and treated SARS. Furthermore, traditional Chinese herbal medicine combined with western medicine treatment regimen reduced adverse events and other complications induced by glucocorticoid, antibiotic, and antiviral treatments.
To restore harmony, the Chinese healer may use any of a staggeringly large array of traditional remedies. The patient may be treated with acupuncture or acupressure, moxibustion (moxa treatment), or cupping (in which hot glass cups are placed on the patient to draw blood to the skin). The Chinese healer may prescribe a brew prepared with one (or some combination) of thousands of medicinal plants or dried animal parts (e.g., snakes, scorpions, insects, deer antlers) in the Chinese pharmaceutical armamentarium.
In the West, herbal medicine is part of folk medicine. However, in China, there is a distinct tradition of Chinese folk medicine that is separate from the orthodox, rather academic TCHM approach. In this Chinese folk medicine, herbs are used more simply, somewhat in the manner of Western herbal medicine. Herbs most commonly used in this manner include astragalus root, dong Quai, ginger, kudzu ( Pueraria lobata ), licorice, Lycium, Panax ginseng, and schizandra.
An essential aspect of TCM is an understanding of the body’s qi (life force; literally, “vital breath”), which flows through invisible meridians (channels) of the body. This energy network connects organs, tissues, veins, nerves, cells, atoms, and consciousness itself. Generally speaking, there are 12 major meridians, each of which connects to one of the 12 major organs in TCM theory. Meridians are also related to a variety of phenomena, including circadian rhythms, seasons, and planetary movements, to create additional invisible networks.
Like conventional medicines, traditional Chinese herbal medicines may also cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with other prescription and nonprescription medicines or herbs. Before you use any traditional Chinese therapies, be sure to tell your medical doctor about any prescription, nonprescription, or other natural supplements you are taking.
Talk with your doctor about any complementary health practice that you would like to try or are already using. Your doctor can help you manage your health better if he or she knows about all of your health practices.