Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Author: Francisco Lozano

Abstract
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a unique, complete medical system arising from a living tradition of literate scholarship that spans at least 2,000 years. Well structured and resting upon a solid, coherent theoretical basis, TCM provides an integral framework for understanding, interpreting, and organizing interventions in the human health-disease process. Over the course of its long history, TCM in vari- ous forms has been the main form of health care in China and many other countries in Asia. Its theories and techniques are studied and practiced alongside Western biomedicine in countries such as Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and mainland China, and it has become one of the main forms of alternative medicine in North America and Europe.
TCM views the human being as standing in intimate relation to its natural en- vironment. In fact, this relationship is considered a key element in the health of the individual. Disease is understood to be a deviation from natural conditions, which correspond with changes in the natural environment. TCM thus describes diseases as being caused by wind, cold, dampness, heat, and so on, while the in- ternal functions of the body are grouped together according to perceived systemic relationships. What these descriptions point to are clusters of related phenomena in the body, which occur together and can be treated with specific interventions, i.e., acupuncture, herbal therapy, and so on.

The importance of these theories for the application of acupuncture and herbal therapy cannot be underrated. Unlike Western biomedicine, which focuses on struc- tural changes in the body and alterations in the chemical composition of blood and other tissues, the emphasis of TCM theory is in alterations of function. In order to manifest the full therapeutic potential of TCM, the patients and their conditions need to be analyzed through the lens of this system. In our experience, this not only optimizes the applicability of TCM-based therapies, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, but also complements the highly specific approach of Western biomedicine, thereby providing superior health care and optimal clinical results.

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