Traditional Chinese medicine attaches great importance to the unity of the human body itself and its relationship with nature. The practice holds that the human body itself is an organic whole and has very close and inseparable relations with the external natural surroundings. The concept of emphasizing the unity within the body and the unified relations between the body and the outside world is known as that of an organic whole.
TCM sees the human body and diseases in a holistic point of view. On one hand, the human body is an organic whole; the organs and parts are inherently inseparable working together and affecting one another. On the other hand, Man and nature is also an entire organic unit. As humans, we are constantly under Nature’s influence. Diseases are essentially caused by disharmony between Man and the universe. We can see the human body as a sub-system in the entire universe and a miniature universe that responds to Nature’s forces. TCM treatment’s philosophy is thus based on the oneness of Man and nature taking into consideration the various aspects of human life such as its physical, social, cultural, mental and psychological properties. TCM is particularly strong in addressing these areas.
2) Diagnosis Based on Overall Analysis
TCM has many characteristics both in the understanding of the human being’s physiology and pathology and in the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. Its characteristics can be explained and summarized into two aspects, one of which is diagnosis and treatment based on an overall analysis of signs and symptoms.
TCM diagnosis includes diagnostic methods and differentiation of syndromes. Diagnostic methods consist of interrogation, inspection, auscultation and olfaction, pulse-feeling and palpation. All these methods aim at providing objective basis for differentiation of syndromes by collecting symptoms and signs from the patient. Differentiation of syndromes refers to the process in which analysis and inference are made on the basis of clinical materials acquired through various diagnostic methods to determine the type of a disease. Such modes of logical thinking as concept, inference and judgment are adopted in the differentiation of syndromes. The type of a disease is drawn from a large amount of perceptual materials. As a pathological generalization of a disease in its certain stage, syndromes in TCM reflect the law and nature of a disease, serving as a basis for TCM treatment. Therefore, they differ from symptoms.
TCM physicians do not focus their main attention on the similarities and dissimilarities between diseases but on the differences between the syndromes the patient have. The same syndromes are treated in similar ways whilst different syndromes are treated in different ways. Take cold for example. If it manifests itself in more severe chilliness, slight fever, a tongue with thin and white fur then it belongs to the exterior syndrome caused by wind and cold. It should then be treated with herbs that are strong in pungent taste and warm in property to dispel the wind and cold. If its manifestations are more of severe fever, milder chilliness, a tongue with thin and yellow fur, then it belongs to the exterior syndrome caused by wind and heat. It should then be treated with mild diaphoretics pungent in taste and cool in property to dispel the wind and heat. This is called "treating the same diseases with different methods". Another example is diarrhea. If clinical analysis shows that the patient has “Sinking qi” as the diagnostic principles, lifting the ‘qi’ and thus making it stronger to support the organs is the treatment principles irrespective of different disease and different patients. This is called "treating different diseases with the same method."
3) Customized Treatment
TCM emphasizes personalized treatment and the interaction between patients and physicians. People are different - man/women, young/old, strong /feeble and living conditions varies (climate and weather, geographical location, etc). All these could affect the way a patient is being treated.
4) Merits of TCM
Studies have showed that TCM is very effective in treating disorders in the nerve, endocrine and immune systems problems as well as treating viral and unidentified diseases. It also has the advantage of treating mind-body diseases, male-specific or gynecological problems. Many diseases with ‘unknown’ causes and which cannot be diagnosed using western medical system such as blood test, x-ray and ultrasound are treated by TCM and usually obtains positive results. Side effects associated with western medicine such as allergy or drug intolerance can also be treated with TCM.
5) Renews the body’s self healing ability
TCM emphasize the importance of self balance to achieve the body’s self-healing potential. It places more emphasis on maintaining the body’s dynamic balance system making sure the body is able to self-adjust in the face of external disturbances. Fighting bacteria and virus after they invaded the body is only the last resort.
6) Characteristics of TCM herbs
TCM herbal treatment is safe, effective which generate low or negligible toxicity. One particular herb has multiple effects so does a combination of herbs. The chemical interaction between the different herbs usually create new substances and new effects; a combination of herbs is thus superior in treating many complicated diseases and is preferred over single herb treatment.
In general, TCM strengths lie in treating metabolic and immune system disorders as well as problems involving multiple organs and systems. It is also effective in restoring the body to its natural healthy state, relieving ‘sub-health’ conditions and delaying the aging process. It takes a holistic and dynamic approach by emphasizing prevention, addressing the root of problems and developing the body’s healthy ‘qi’ to achieve self healing purposes.
i) What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a unique TCM medical treatment which does not involve oral medication. It is practiced by inserting needles into certain meridians on the body.
Acupuncture has many advantages and can be applied to a variety of illnesses with fast result and with few side effects. It can relieve pain as well as improve the body’s function and its ability to resist diseases. It is easy, safe and can be used in conjunction with other treatments. Practiced over thousands of years, acupuncture has been proven to be effective on more than 300 illnesses among which over 100, are in the WHO acupuncture recommendation list.
ii) Meridians Matter and energy are two different manifestations of the same primary energetic substance of which everything in the universe is composed including our physical and subtle bodies. Matter, which vibrates at a very slow frequency, is referred to as physical matter. Subtle matter is as real as dense matter; its vibratory rate is simply faster. It is believed that two opposite ends of the spectrum YIN - the energy of earth; and YANG - the energy of heaven, combined with humans to create this vital force.
The human meridian concept is the centre-piece of the first Chinese Medicine classic “The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Canon”. The meridians are the invisible pathways of energy throughout the human body and the meridian system is an important component of the human physiology. The meridians are responsible for transporting the ‘qi’ and blood, balancing yin and yang, nourishing bones and tendons, lubricating joints and connecting internal organs by its meridian messages. Meridians are the pathways of the positive and negative energy power, which carries on some of the communication between the various parts of human beings.
Meridians are not only interconnected with the internal organs but also reach out to the body’s surface hence easily detectable. Illness of the internal organs will manifest as certain outward symptoms. By stimulating the corresponding points on the body’s surface, it can treat the problems inside.
Modern technology has proven the existent of meridians in the human body. They have also been measured and mapped. The result shows they do follow the ‘routes’ that classic Chinese medicine books have indicated.