The History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

For 2500 years now, traditional Chinese medicine has stood its ground in the heart of China, continually changing lives and elongating others. The medicine focuses on using the body’s own self-healing mechanism and only comes into the picture to stimulate this process. The medicine has revolutionized since the moment West met East by involving some modern forms of treatments. Nonetheless, the basic concepts and practices are still the same if not updated to better forms. Even though the originality is slowly disappearing with this new generation who mostly depend on hospitals and Western medicine, its power and uniqueness is still recognized worldwide and given respect by the medical community.

But what makes traditional Chinese medicine so auspicious? What makes it stand out from the other treatment means for almost three millenniums and still be as effective as ever was?


A Historical Overview

For two and a half millennia, Chinese medicine has made a combination of herbal medicine, tui na (massage), qigong (exercises), acupuncture and dietary therapy. It bases its tenets and principles on the concept of qi – the body’s vitalism through channels known as meridians. This basically suggests that humans and other living things have a form of power, a life-force or energy that can be channeled and manipulated whenever we are sick or unwell to restore us to our normal state.

Written scripts by ancient oracles on bones and tortoise shells concerning the Shang Dynasty showed how the Shang royal family was attacked by various diseases: bloated abdomens, eye problems, toothaches just to mention but a few. They were considered as ancestral curses – mind you at the time they did not have herbal medicine. This was sometime around 14th-11th Century BCE. Nonetheless, it is in these historical tombs where the first shreds of evidence of stone and bone needles related to acupuncture were first found.

Later on, during the first Century BCE, the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Huang Di Nei Jing) became the oldest received work of Chinese medical theory. Traditional Chinese Medicine also gives a focus on the cosmic nature of Yin Yang which in simple terms is the complete opposite nature of every phenomenon in the universe – like the sun versus the moon and water versus fire. The same is concept is transferred to the human body making the fundamentals of qi.


Building Principles of TCM

The operation of the human body can be explained by three main functional entities from which arises the 8-building blocks of traditional Chinese medicine. The three are:

  1. The 5 Fundamental Substances which are Shen (Spirit), Jing (Essence), Xue (Blood), Jinye (Body Fluids) and Qi. These 5 play certain cardinal functions including warming and heat regulation in the body, actuation through locomotion of all physical processes, defense against pathogens, containing body into a workable function and transforming processes in the body e.g., liquids, food and breath to qi and blood.
  2. Zang-fu with ‘Zang’ referring to 5 organs which are yin in nature and ‘fu’ addressing 6 organs that are yang.
  3. Jing-Lua basically referring to the meridians through which qi flows.

The 8 pillars of the medicine are:

  1. Yin could be symbolized by a cold.
  2. Yang – Heat is yang
  3. Interior: Represents diseases found deep inside the body.
  4. Exterior: Diseases visible on the outside of the skin.
  5. Heat: Enumerates and aversion to cold. When paired to the exterior pattern, the signs could include a sore throat, body chills, fever, a rapid pulse and dehydration. Pairing to the interior pattern, on the other hand, symptoms could be clear urine, slow pulse and a preference for cold drinks.
  6. Cold: Symptoms to the exterior pattern include body chills, headaches, body aches and a tense pulse. To the interior, symptoms are severe and include diarrhea and vomiting, stomach pain and nausea.
  7. Deficiency: relates to a vacuum in blood, qi or body fluids with symptoms ranging from dizziness, slow pulse, little appetite and constipation.
  8. Excess: Just like yin and yang, once there is a deficiency, there’s also the risk of something falling in more amounts than required. Could be manifested through sweaty palms, sharp stomach pains and a quick pulse.


Causes of Diseases and Diagnosis

Depending on the classifications above, traditional Chinese medicine categorizes causes of diseases into three broad categories.

The external diseases are known to be brought about by bad Chi or by the Six Excesses. The internal diseases, contrarily, are caused by the Seven Affects or the Seven Emotions and affect the zang-fu organs. These are joy, pensiveness, grief, fright, anxiety, fear and anger. Other irregularities will be brought about by factors you bring upon your own self or that come to you such as parasites or an unbalanced diet.

For one to get treated using traditional Chinese medicine, the physician might apply 4 different types of diagnosis.

For starters, they might use inspection by simply visually observing the face, the skin and the surface of the tongue.

Inquiry also comes in handy by probing about the patient’s past and their family history.

Palpation helps the medic analyze what can’t be seen by feeling different pressure points including the wrist pulse. This takes the longest to master and offers the best form of diagnosis.

The fourth means involves Auscultation which is an in-depth analysis of the 5 different sounds made:

  1. Weeping
  2. Groaning
  3. Singing
  4. Laughing
  5. Shouting

This further extends to olfaction which is basically a process of smelling the body odor.


A Look at the Present Day TCM

Even though this treatment form makes up the standard treatment methods in Asian countries, there has been limited research from the West on the concepts used and their validity. Nonetheless, the effectiveness remains undisputed – the most detailed treatments that help you cure your own self according to many. Dubai residents have been benefitting from the services of TCM Shanghai which makes use of modern applications in the traditional methods used. You won’t regret your decision to contact these gurus in the medical world.

As it is, traditional Chinese medicine has worked with thousands heading over to China in an attempt to look for some peculiar treatments which can’t be easily found anywhere else. This Asian country is endowed with rich curative means which has seen her economy grow through the medicine sector. You don’t have to travel to China now to have a taste of your body’s actual potential. Reach us today and give us the chance to let you know more about us!

Shang Li, M.D., PhD, he is Deputy Director of Formula-Pattern Research Center of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Professor at Longhua Clinical Medical College affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.