China is one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. Among the many wonderful things that hail from the land, is a system of healing that is over 5000 years old and is as effective today as it was back then.
Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM] is an advanced and effective system of medicine that aims to treat the root cause of disease rather than its symptoms. Once the cause is treated, the symptoms automatically disappear. In that sense, the tenets of TCM are similar to that of ayurveda.
Both, the diagnosis and the treatment in TCM are personalised. It believes that even the nervous systems of two human beings are not the same.
The practitioner is required to understand the disease-causing factors, and their effects on the body, mind and psychology of the patient. The delicate inter-relationship between the mind and the body has to be properly understood. From the modern-day point of view, the system can be viewed as holistic.
The doctor takes care to understand the individual elemental personality in relation to his/her positive and negative environmental factors. However, the basic individuality of the patient is never disturbed.
Just like every person, TCM believes that every disease too has a distinct personality. Given the same conditions, different people will show different symptom-patterns, depending upon the distinctiveness of their individual self. The same disease can manifest differently in different people. On the basis of the study of these complexes and patterns, an experienced doctor works out a diagnosis.
The TCM way of diagnosis
The diagnosis is not merely the naming of the disease. It is the most complex in-depth study of the basic natural personality of the person, disturbed by the evil forces of the disease, further complicated by modern medicine. The doctor uses four methods of diagnosis:
- Observation that involves gauging a person’s appearance, skin pallor and sensory organs.
- Auscultation and olfaction, which involves diagnosis with the help of sounds and odours.
- Interrogation in which the doctor collects information about the patient—medical history, lifestyle, habits, temperament and so on.
- Pulse taking and palpation in which doctors take the pulse. When a patient is unwell, it reflects in his pulse.
Fundamental to diagnosis, treatment and cure are certain theories that are based on universal laws. These include the theory of Qi or vital energy, the five element theory, the meridian theory and the Yin/Yang theory.
Qi is the life force or vital energy that flows through every organ of the body.
TCM believes that our health is closely linked to the five elements [wood, fire, earth, metal and water] of the universe.
As per TCM there are 12 big meridians in our body. The meridians are the carriers of Qi and the route along which intelligence is exchanged between organs.
Yin/Yang are the energies that complement each other. They are inseparable and present in everything. For one to be healthy, Yin and Yang have to be in harmony.
Put simply, TCM believes that Qi has to flow freely along the meridians. If it isn’t able to flow because of a blocked meridian for instance, illness will result. And the five elements affect the Qi of the seasons and the Qi of a person has to smoothly change to match it. If that doesn’t happen, it causes illness. The five elements are also closely linked to the five major organs: liver/gall bladder, heart/small intestine, spleen/stomach, lung/large intestine, and kidney/urinary bladder. And Yin and Yang have to be in harmony. If there’s a problem in one, the other will get affected, thus disturbing health.
TCM uses several modalities for treatment. And the world-famous acupuncture is one of the modalities. Tuina massage and Chi Gong exercises are other treatment modalities. TCM also prescribes medicines that are derived from herbs and other natural sources. These medicines do not contain harmful chemicals. They are not adulterated with steroids and antibiotics.
The principals, laid down in the textbooks handed down from thousands of years, are never sacrificed.
The medicines build up the basic nerve energy, and the augmented nerve force regenerates and revitalises the diseased tissue of the body. The increased flow of this enriched energy removes the physio-psychological blockades of the nerve pathways. The medicines are gentle and effective, and work without disturbing the physiological balance of the system.
Lately, the TCM has embraced the western means of diagnosis in its fold. This system of Chinese medicine is an ideal combination of ancient wisdom and recent scientific research. Modern research in the diagnostic and the therapeutic aspect has collaborated with age-old practices. The scrutiny of scientific knowledge has widened the applicability spectrum. New methods coupled with ancient techniques have perfected this into a solid system of healing for the future that has its roots in the past.
This was first published in the March 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.