Traditional Chinese Medicine
A Brief Overview
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began almost 5,000 years ago and offers a different approach to health than Western Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, every function connects to every other function, no part or organ works independently. TCM looks at our bodies as being part of a larger dynamic or energy that is influenced by the world around us. Their focus is all about maintaining balance in our energy, our life and our bodies. It was based on the philosophy of Taoism. This life force energy is referred to as chi or qi and travels through the body via pathways known as meridians. In Chinese hospitals, Traditional Chinese Medicine is done alongside Western Medicine. TCM is also widely used in the USA through acupuncture and chinese herbs.
The Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Yin-yang is the concept of two opposing yet complementary forces. The bright and dark
sides of an object that shape all that is going on around us and in our life. Everything is in constant motion
and forever changing. Yin and yang is the idea of an interrelationship or balance, that one can not exist
without the other. Where there is light there is darkness. Yin and yang need each other to complete itself. The
healthy human body needs both yin and yang working to be at its optimum. When this relationship of yin and yang
is broken, there is too little, too much, or stagnating chi, disease sets in. Yin (feminine) generally refers
to the darkness or degeneration while yang (masculine) refers to the light or progression.
- Five Elements is used to explain how the body works in relation to the world around us.
The five basic elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. These five elements are also in constant
movement and change and rely on each other to function properly. The properties of these five elements refer to
the seasons or cycles in nature as well as the organs and tissues in our bodies. These properties interact with
each other creating complex dynamic links. The five elements have a process in how they function. Each element
mutually promotes and restrains the functions of another element. For example, wood generates fire yet controls
earth. You can not generate or promote without controlling or restraining. The movement of all things exists
within this relationship. The five elements represent the following within nature and our body:
Water - Kidney and Bladder - Winter - Cold - Salty
Wood - Liver and Gallbladder - Spring - Wind - Sour
Fire - Heart and Small Intestine - Summer - Heat - Bitter
Earth - Spleen and Stomach - Late Summer - Dampness - Sweet
Metal - Lungs and Large Intestine - Fall - Dryness - Spicy
Chinese Herbal Medicine
The Chinese have a pharmacology reference book that is used by practitioners and contains thousands of different medicinal substances that have been obtained mostly from plants. The substances within this book are classified by their warming or cooling effects on the body as well as their taste.
An herb would be classified by temperature as hot, warm, cold, neutral or aromatic and also be classified by its taste: salty, sour, bitter, sweet, or spicy.
The majority of Chinese herbal remedies are combinations of many herbs and are designed to achieve certain actions throughout the body to influence the yin and yang patterns as well as the controlling and generating patterns of the five elements.
Nature's Sunshine offers Traditional Chinese Medicine Yin Packs (negative) and Yang Packs (positive). Remember when yang is stronger, the body is hot and it is easier for those to endure winter. When yin is stronger the body is cold and it is easier for those to endure summer. It is when yin is stronger that one knows he is sick.
Remember, yin and yang and the five elements of nature should remain in balance, working together harmoniously. It is the balance of everything that makes us complete.
Written by Mara Gerke CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.