The history and principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine
The oldest text on Traditional Chinese Medicine is called the Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen Ling Shu, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which is believed to date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. Amazingly, this text is still relevant and accurate today in its descriptions of Chinese treatment methods, especially acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Although science has recently provided further explanations of the reasons that acupuncture and herbal therapies work, this holistic medical system was designed and improved upon over 5000 years of clinical experience. The basic principles of TCM are basically the same as they were in ancient China.
The eight main principles of Chinese Medicine are used to diagnose the cause of symptoms and to categorize diseases. They are:
The teaching of five elements: fire, water, wood, earth and metal are also used to relate to specific organs or tissues and explain how the body systems work and interact with each other. All of these concepts are found in the ancient text of the Yellow Emperor and are still used today.
In addition to the Universal Laws upon which TCM is based, the principle of Qi, a special type of energy, is a fundamental teaching. Qi is understood to be the motivating force of the universe. This energy is found in the everywhere in the environment and within the human body. There are several different forms of Qi that act within the body to perform specific tasks. Yin and Yang are the complementary energies that make up Qi, and good health is dependent on having a balance of these two.
A closer look at Chinese medicinal treatments:
Acupuncture was developed as a specialized system based on the ancient Chinese concepts of humanity and its connection to the environment. By stimulating precise points on along meridians, or energy pathways, often using thin metal needles, acupuncturists can remove any blockages of the flow of Qi through the body. Since Qi is responsible for vital functions, such as circulating fluids and blood throughout the body, maintaining proper operations of the vital organs and maintaining body heat, acupuncture treatments can be used to relieve a wide variety of conditions and diseases.
Chinese herbal medicine is based on a pharmacological reference book called the Materia Medica, which dates back to 1100 B.C.. It contains hundreds of medicinal substances that are plants, animal or mineral based. All parts of plants are used, including the leaves, roots, blossoms and seeds. Each medicine is classified by its effect on the body and it includes information such as toxicities, precautions and contraindications. Unlike pharmaceutical prescriptions, herbal remedies are made in individualized formulas. They are often in the form of teas, capsules, or powders. These herbal remedies are often used in conjunction with acupuncture treatments, to help the therapist move energy through the body.
Tai Chi is another important part of Chinese holistic therapy. It is sometimes described as meditation in motion, and it involves slow, meditative movements and exercises, to promote relaxation, health and balance. Its gentle, sweeping movements are even relaxing to watch! But the benefits go beyond relaxation. Tai Chi has a number of health benefits, including:
- Increasing flexibility and balance control
- Improving muscle strength and tone
- Lowering blood pressure
Is Traditional Chinese Medicine a safe form of treatment?
TCM is gaining recognition for its safe, natural therapies in a number of areas. For example, the United States National Institutes of Health has recognized acupuncture as an effective form of treatment since 1998. This designation was given following clinically proven results in treating a variety of conditions, including nausea from cancer treatments. Many health insurance companies now provide coverage for acupuncture and other TCM treatments.
Traditional Chinese medicine is used to treat a wide range of disorders, such as:
- Morning sickness
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Cerebrovascular accident (stroke)
- Ulcerative colitis
Plus much more.
While Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used to treat serious illness, it also has beneficial effects in improving the body’s natural immunity, restoring the mind’s ability to focus and experience pleasure, and promoting creativity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a highly advanced form of complementary medicine. Why not try this ancient way of staying healthy?
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