Chinese medicine, also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, is basically a well founded traditional approach to treating ailments based on the five elements theory and it happens to be incredibly effective.It is so effective that scientists are still, to this very day, looking at the herbs and techniques used to see if they can find reasons for why it works so well. Otherwise, Chinese medicine in the modern sense is very much the same as Western medicine.
The Five Elements
The five elements are water, wood, fire, earth and metal. These are ways of describing different organ systems in the body as well as the energy meridians which are involved.
• Fire is the heart and small intestine. This includes all the blood and blood vessels as well.
• Wood is the liver and the gallbladder. This also includes the eyes and the tendons.
• Water is the Kidney and the bladder. This is also known as the “essence” of life, the basis of chi.
• Earth is the spleen and the stomach and also has to do with the muscles and the mouth.
• Metal is the lungs and the large intestine. This also includes the nose, the skin, and the hair.
Relationship of Energy
It is the relationship of energy between all these systems that forms the meridians through which chi or energy flows. There is a very complex system of energy flow and exchange through the meridians and it is believed that when this energy is disrupted, disease occurs.
In order to correct disease processes, the energies of herbs are used. In more extreme cases, the energy is redirected using acupuncture, which is the use of tiny needles to redirect the flow. Sometimes pressure, massage, and heat are used as well.
What it Means
It basically takes many years of study to understand how all of this works so do not think that you are a fool to not understand. In layman’s terms, when something goes wrong with one of the elements, it will impact the other elements of the body.
This, in turn, causes disruption of chi and that leads to disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine seeks to restore balance in order to cure disease and this is what gives it the unique characteristics it has.
When it comes to the use of herbs in Chinese Medicine, they are not targeted for symptoms and they are not at all like drugs. In fact, they are more like modulators of the energy. It takes a highly skilled practitioner to prescribe the right combinations of herbs for any given condition.
Again, it is not a matter of symptom control like Western drugs. That is why it is so difficult for researchers to pinpoint exactly how each of the herbs works for different ailments.
Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture in TCM is not the way it is used in Western medicine. It is used as a last resort or for more serious procedures such as surgery and anesthesia. Rather than controlling pain with drugs, fine needles are used to redirect energy and heal.