Chinese Medicine: A Healing Tradition

rerun imageTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the most complex, highly-developed traditional healing theories in the world. The major components of TCM are acupuncture and herbal medicine. Other aspects include acupressure massage, exercise systems such as Tai Chi (pronounced “tie chee”) and Chi Gung, and theories about architecture and interior decoration known as Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shwee”). TCM attracts many people today because of its holistic emphasis, its ancient origins, and its Eastern feel. However, as yet, there is only limited scientific evidence that it actually works.

History of Chinese Medicine

Primitive acupuncture needles dating back to around 1000 BC have been discovered in archeological finds of the Shang dynasty in China. The theoretical framework underlying the practice of acupuncture was first set forth in the Inner Classic of Medicine or Nei Jing, first published in 206 BC. Chinese herbal medicine received its first rudimentary theoretical foundations at about the same time, but it was not until the 12th century that the depth of medical theorizing associated with acupuncture was fully applied to herbal treatment. Over subsequent years, both acupuncture and herbal medicine evolved greatly, with major changes occurring at different points in history. The 19th century was a time of major change, and many traditional techniques popular today actually originated during that period.

Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine is an all-embracing system that—at least in theory—encompasses every aspect of human existence. According to the principles of TCM, health exists when life-energy (“Qi”) flows freely and the opposing forces of “yin and yang” are balanced.Exercise systems such as Tai Chi and Chi Gung (Qigong) are said to help maintain this healthy flow. Feng Shui principles are said to provide the proper living environment to enhance health. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are used to restore balance and free flow of energy when it has become disturbed.

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