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What is 'Traditional Chinese Medicine'?

Posted Sep 14 2009 8:14am

Have you ever heard of ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ ‘Zhong Yi? Do you know what it is about? How does it work?

Majority of the people thought that Chinese medicine is China’s medicine.

Lets us have a look at the meaning of the first character of ‘Zhong Yi. Well, it does have the meaning, referring to ‘China’.

But, its true meaning is, at the middle, balanced, without bias and without favor. Thus, ‘Zhong Yi, Chinese Medicine is a medicine that pursue and concern about balance, balanced medicine. 

To understand more about Chinese medicine, there are few several important concepts needed to get understand. 

I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, there’re few important concepts as to understand what’s Traditional Chinese Medicine.

One of the important concept is Yin and Yang.

Yin Yang

Yin Yang is a philosophy concept, used to explain the phenomenon of Mutual opposition and interaction relations existing in the nature. The traditional Chinese medicine believes that our human body is also divide into Yin Yang. For example, the upper part of our body is considered Yang, while lower part of our body is considered as Yin.

Table: Example of human body Yin & Yang



Upper part of body

Lower part of body

Back part of body

Front part of body

Outer body

Inner body



Left side of body

Right side of body


Yin and Yang can also be considered as positive and negative.

A healthy person, his Yin Yang is balanced. The reason that a human falls sick or ill is because his Yin Yang is imbalanced, lack of coordination. Traditional Chinese medicine uses methods like acupuncture and moxibustion, massage, traditional Chinese herbs medicine and others, to balance and restore the Yin Yang, as to achieve the purpose of curing the illness.

I’ll give a more direct example. Facial palsy (facial paralysis named by Western medicine) is the imbalance of blood in vivo. When the external factors happen to have changes, and oneself cannot adapt to the changes, what we saw is – crooked mouth and eyes.

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 2


Remember my last blog post… What I mentioned about Yin Yang in “Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 1“. A human falls sick or ill is because his Yin Yang is imbalanced, lack of coordination.


Here I would like to share with you about another important concept about traditional Chinese Medicine – The Unity of Human and Nature.


The Unity of Human and Nature


The greatest difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is the overall perspectives of Chinese medicine.


From the aspect of Chinese Medicine, human body is being treated as a whole, an organic body. Each of the organs is interrelated and inseparable from. A disease of an inner organ may affect the other inner organs.


For example, coughing. At the beginning, it might be because you are having a cold. Then, the affected area or organ is just only your lung. If you didn’t cure it on time and thoroughly, it will then affect your heart and your kidney. Later, usually diagnosed by Western Medical doctor, it may progress to other more serious sicknesses or diseases like myocarditis, pulmonary heart disease, nephritis, etc..


Meanwhile, the body is also affected by the living environment, climate, seasonal changes and other natural factors. 


Meanwhile, our human body is also influenced by natural factors, such as the environment, the climate, the changes of seasons, in the area that we live around. For solar terms, as an natural influence, the effect is more obvious.

A solar term, is one of 24 points in traditional East Asian lunisolar calendars that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The nature balance its own Yin and Yang at this time around of a solar term. For those who are less resist to the changes, they are easier to get sick or get more serious for their sickness. Therefore diseases such as heart disease, asthma, stroke always occur around the solar terms.


On the other hand, taking an advantage of this specific season or solar term, to carry on treatment. It often obtains a best desired result. That is why we have many other specific methods of treatment, such as solar term moxibustion. It is also well known to give treatment in summer for those sicknesses that always happen during winter. This is what we called “The unite of human and nature” in Chinese medicine concept.


Introduction of Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 3


The last concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine that I like to talk about is - 

Treat Before Sick


‘Treat before sick’ means that before sick or at the early stage of sickness and disease, the process is effectively interrupted, cured, treated. The disease is being eliminated or eradicated at the infancy stage. This indicates that keeps healthy and prevents disease are the important aspects of Chinese medicine. Thus, arrange them in order, first is keeping one in good health. Second is prevention of disease. Last but not lease is treatment for disease.


If a person can live his daily life accordingly to the nature rules, such as balance in diet, calm emotions. How will there bee any disease?


Furthermore, prevention before any sickness or during the early stage of the sickness, it will not aggravate the sickness. Therefore, Chinese medicine named this as not to treat sickness but treat before sick.



After explained 3 important concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, now can come to an conclusion. Traditional Chinese medical science is a medical science about nature and balance. To me, it is full with interesting knowledge.


Hopefully, through my prescription of traditional Chinese medicine, you have preliminary understanding to Chinese medicine. There are still a lot more about traditional Chinese medicine, such as solar terms, meridians, acupuncture points (acupoints) and etc. I’ll mention them later on.


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