For several thousands of years in China, each Chinese herb has provided medicinal benefits through a natural process that integrates with people’s own body chemistry. No additives, chemicals, or invasive treatments are needed with Chinese herb. Instead, Chinese herbs provide a safe and natural remedy for many health complaints . Chinese herbs have long been used for their restorative and healing results and can be used safely in tandem with many Western treatments.
What is TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine ("TCM") has a
history that can be traced back over three thousand years. It includes
the use of herbs and acupuncture, but it also covers diet, exercise,
and even the emotions.
TCM medical practice is guided by Chinese
philosophy, which teaches that the human body is not only part of the
world, but actually a small version of it. The activities that go on
in the body are similar to the activities that go on throughout the
universe. Therefore, TCM approaches healing as restoration of internal
body conditions to their normal ways of functioning, which are in line
with the ways in which other things in nature behave.
TCM views health holistically, and sees the body
as a whole, as well as being a part of the bigger whole of nature.
Therefore, TCM sees a close connection between health and air, food,
environment, and lifestyle.
Chinese philosophy analyzes natural processes
according to their Yin or Yang characteristics, and further
categorizes them according to the Five Elements Theory of wood, fire,
earth, metal, and water, which are the most basic kinds of
interactions between in nature. TCM uses Yin-Yang and Five Elements
Theories as the basis of a model for understanding the various
processes that go on in the body, as well as for diagnosis. Bodily
functions are characterized in terms of their normal promoting or
restraining effects on other processes, and are understood to be
pathological when they encroach on, or overwhelm normal functioning.
Symptoms and conditions are characterized in TCM according to Yin-Yang
Theory as being external or internal, hot or cold, and due to
excessive pathological influences or deficient resistance. According
to TCM, we experience good health as long as our organs function in
balance and harmony, and we become ill whenever some bodily processes
encroach on or overwhelm others due to excessive attack by pathogens
or deficiency in resistance.
The inner parts of the body are thought of in TCM
as systems that carry out specific physiological functions, rather
than as anatomical entities. The major organ systems are the Heart,
the Liver, the Spleen, the Lung, and the Kidney. The Heart is
considered to be the controller of all other organs, and is
responsible for blood circulation and basic emotional response. The
Liver stores blood, assists in digestion, regulates Qi and Blood
circulation, supports the tendons, and is involved in the activities
of emotion. The Spleen transforms and transports nutrients and water,
nourishes the muscles and limbs, and determines the body's
constitution. The Lung carries out respiration, controls vital energy,
regulates circulation of Qi and body fluid, and is involved in initial
resistance to pathogens. The Kidney is considered to be the most
important organ in that, in addition to eliminating waste fluids from
the body, it stores congenital and acquired essential Qi, which
governs water, the growth of bones and production of marrow, and
controls reproductive functions, growth, and development. The Lung's
ability to absorb air is also affected by the functioning of the
Kidney. All five of the main organs of the body are involved in
providing vital energy and immune functions to the body, but
especially the Lung, Spleen, and Kidney.
While specific pathogens such as bacteria or
viruses are not mentioned in TCM literature, TCM theory understands
that various pathogenic factors that originate in the environment
attack the body. These are generally classified in TCM as external
pathogenic factors, and include atmospheric changes, epidemics, and
injuries. In addition to pathogenic influences and toxins, TCM also
understands that things like excessive emotion, improper diet,
physical exhaustion, and over-indulgence in sex can also cause illness
or injury that may lead to disease. These excesses are classified as
endogenous, meaning of our own doing.
Pathogenic atmospheric changes can be seasonal,
such as the cold of winter, or the heat of summer. They also include
wind. dampness, dryness, and excessive heat. Wind illnesses, for
example, are those that strike suddenly and change their behavior
quickly, like the wind. They may produce skin problems or joint pains
that come and go in various locations, and are more likely to affect
the exposed parts of the body such as the head, face, eyes, or hands,
and often are accompanied by aversion to wind. Wind illnesses are
treated in TCM by acupuncture, as well as by herbs that
"expel" wind. In general, conditions are treated by applying
measures that are opposite of the condition. Cold illnesses are
treated by warming, dry illnesses are treated through applying
moisture, and so on.
TCM has a unique way of diagnosing illnesses that
involves observation, inquiry, perception of bodily aromas, and the
evaluation of the state of various pulses in the body and palpitation
of abdominal areas. The results of TCM diagnosis are then organized
according to established patterns or conditions, which are generally
classified according to the most basic and prominent causes and
conditions. Every TCM condition has a corresponding treatment that is
further adjusted to meet the full range of needs of the individual. In
choosing a specific treatment strategy, a TCM doctor will also take
into consideration the complexity of the individual's condition, and
the need for preventative measures to avoid complications.
TCM therapies or treatments do not interfere with
the body's normal functions. This is one of the most important
features of TCM, and comes out of its philosophy of putting even
greater emphasis on disease prevention, instead of merely offering
treatment. Thus, TCM strives to prevent an illness from becoming
worse, and tries to protect the parts of the body that are still not
affected. Every illness is a struggle within the body between the
forces of the illness or disease pathogens, and the resources and
abilities of the body to fight them off. The direction of this
struggle determines the recovery of the individual. To correct
imbalances that underlie various conditions, TCM aims to restore the
original, natural balance of the body's internal functions.
Since TCM addresses the struggle between the
individual's health and the attacking illness, rather than the
illness, itself, TCM treats conditions, rather than diseases.
Therefore, even though individuals may have the same underlying health
condition, depending on the individual's constitution, life style, and
other factors, that same underlying condition may be manifested in
different ways with different symptoms. Therefore, those individuals
would likely be diagnosed with different illnesses in Western
medicine, while in TCM, they would receive similar treatments, since
they all have the same underlying condition. Likewise, individuals who
have been diagnosed with the same illness according to Western
medicine, may receive different treatments in TCM, depending on their
individual, underlying states of health and conditions.
Whatever the condition determined through TCM
diagnosis, the entire person will be treated, including both physical
and emotional aspects. TCM treatments, whether involving herbs or
acupuncture, involve the rebalancing of Qi Blood, Yin and Yang, and
other life processes in the body. TCM emphasizes that the free
movement of good Qi and Blood throughout the body is essential to
health and immune function.
Since TCM treatments to support health and to not
cause additional harm, they tend to work on underlying conditions more
than symptoms, and therefore, for some symptoms TCM works more slowly
than Western pharmaceuticals--although for some disorders, TCM can be
quite powerful. Herbs are nearly always used in combinations that
augment, limit, or direct their effects to various parts of the body.
TCM herbal formulas also include auxiliary herbs that help to protect
digestive functions, or even to minimize the unpleasant tastes or
aromas of other herbs. The important thing to remember is that TCM
herbal formulas are powerful in their own ways, and therefore, they
must be used with knowledge or under supervision, and only as needed.