Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ancient Chinese medical books in the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese herbal medicine on the table

In China, you’ll find a confusing mixture of modern and traditional medical practices. You may be confused, amused and even frightened by the traditional practices that you see and by the medical advice that you’ll receive.

Though the main ideas and techniques are thousands of years old, the traditional medical practices are still important, and are even being adopted around the world.


The Yin-Yang Balance


The core belief of Chinese medicine is about the yin-yang qi balance in the body and its organs.

Most Chinese medicine practitioners think that there are many kinds of qi, and the most basic kinds are yin qi and yang qi .

Everything is a balance of yin and yang. Yin is female, dark and formless. Yang is male, light, and form. Females have more yin qi, and males have more yang qi, and as people age, they lose qi.

The qi is life energy, and its flow in the body depends on the environment and what happens to the body. The balance of qi in the parts of the body depends on the flow of various kinds of qi and fluids. Injury, physical suffering, and lack of proper food causes a qi deficiency.

The core idea of Chinese medicine is that people can increase or decrease the various qis in the body, and its parts, by various medical techniques, to create a healthful yin-yang balance.

Each person and part of the body has an ideal point of balance of yin and yang for optimal health. Some techniques are more appropriate for increasing yang qi, and some are appropriate for decreasing yang qi, and likewise for yin qi.


Various Techniques that Manipulate the Various Qis


Qi deficiencies in a person or a body part can be corrected by eating proper food, taking herbs and medicines, using physical manipulation such as cupping, moxibustion, acupuncture and massage, or doing meditation and physical exercise such as qigong.

For example, if a woman is sick or weak from a lack of yin qi, she can eat foods high in yin qi such as melons or goji berries or various high yin herbs.

Older men may want to take herbal and food remedies, such as drinking ginseng tea or eating seahorse dishes, because they are high in yang content, or get a moxibustion treatment that adds Yang to the body.

If, due to injury or stress, the qi circulation gets blocked or stagnated, all the above medical techniques can be used to unblock the qi channels called meridians, or increase or decrease the qi in various locations. However, a medical practitioner should help you decide which procedure will best help to cure your condition.

Qigong and tai chi practitioners think that special exercises and meditation helps the qi in the body to circulate. They think that by practicing, they can learn to control the motion of qi, and use the qi to heal injured body parts, cure diseases, get healthier, defend themselves, and live longer.


Summary of the Most Common Techniques


Acupuncture: involves sticking needles or sharp points into the body at specific meridian sites to change the qi and Yin Yang balances. The meridian spots are outlined in charts and traditional texts. An acupuncture treatment often involves fire cupping, moxibustion, message, acupressure (tuina) or other techniques as well. The needles may be heated by burning mugwort herb for moxibustion. When people go to traditional doctors in China, acupuncture is a common treatment, but its effectiveness isn’t clear. Here is some information on the history, method, and effectiveness of acupuncture..

Cupping: This ancient practice isn’t just a Chinese tradition, it has been practiced for hundreds and thousands of years across Eurasia and North Africa. The Chinese style uses the acupuncture meridians. It is used to remove yang from the body, and it is appropriate for conditions such as bronchitis, heat stroke, and hot weather-related conditions.

Herbal Medicine: Health food stores in the US sell herbal medicines and herbal substance, and European and American people generally buy these herbs based on their traditional understanding of herbal pharmacology. Western herbal medicine enthusiasts often discuss the chemical and biological effects of herbs on human bodies or cells. For example, they’ll talk about an herb’s effects on harmful bacteria or viruses. However, natural pharmacology in Chinese traditional medicine is based on different concepts. There are core traditional ideas that traditional practitioners hold about the need to harmonize Yin and Yang and the various qi in human bodies. Chinese are adopting Western medicine’s understanding of bacteria and viruses as a cause of illness and disease, and so they may also regard natural medical products for their chemical and biological effects. But the traditional understanding of the body and health is still important to traditional medicine practitioners.

Medicinal Cuisine Therapy: The emphasis in this traditional method of meal preparation, special recipes, and way of eating is to promote the yin-yang balance.

Moxibustion: This is another surprising technique and is used to add Yang to the body. It is appropriate for women with birthing problems, older men, and cold weather-related health issues. The mugwort smoke is thought to have medicinal properties.

Qigong: Meditation and special exercise, such as qigong and tai chi also manipulates the qi balance and the body fluids in the body.