1. How & Why TCM Works For You?
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.