Traditional Chinese Medicine and
Traditional Western Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) views the individual as an integrated system of mind and body where health is achieved through maintaining the balance
or harmony between Yin and Yang. Balance between
the Yin and Yang leads to good health while imbalance leads to disease. Yin represents water, quiet, substance and
night, while Yang represents fire, noise, function and day. The relationship between these two opposites
is not static but shifting; as night (yin) fades it becomes day (yang), and as yang fades it becomes night (yin). Yin and
yang are, therefore, changing into each other as well as balancing each other.When there is imbalance, external agents can invade the body and cause disease. The tasks of
TCM are to determine nature of the imbalance and the agent causing the trouble, and then to correct the balance.
In comparison, Traditional Western
medicine views the mind and body as separate systems each working in a mechanistic fashion. As such,
Western medicine tends to approach disease by assuming that it is due to an external force, such as a virus or bacteria, or
a slow degeneration of the mechanism (i.e. the body’s physical function). The result is that Western
medicine tends to focus on correcting a specific problem and is oriented to intervention. TCM is oriented
to restoration and maintenance. The Framework of TCMWithin the body each organ is viewed
as containing elements of yin and yang. The tissue structures and nutrients are yin, and the functional
activities are yang. Some organs are predominantly yang in their functions, such as the liver, while others are predominantly
yin, such as the kidney. Even though one organ may be predominantly yin (or yang) in nature, the balance of yin and yang is
maintained in the whole healthy body because the sum total of the yin and yang will be in balance. Qi,
Moisture, Blood, Spirit, Essence
body is comprised of Qi, (pronounced chee), Moisture, and Blood. Qi is the animating force
that gives us our capacity to move, think, feel, and work. Moisture is the liquid medium, which protects, nurtures,
and lubricates tissue. Blood is the material foundation out of which we create bones, nerves,
skin, muscles, and organs. Human
beings intermingle Spirit (Shen) and Essence (Jing). Shen is the non-material expression of the
individual, and Essence represents the body's reproductive and regenerative substance. It is in the interaction of
Shen and Jing that Chinese medicine recognizes the integration of the mind and body and lays the foundation for the treatment
of the complete individual.
Health and Illness
Moisture, and Blood circulate within a web of channels
that link together all parts of the organism. Health exists when adequate Qi, Moisture, and Blood flow smoothly.
Illness is understood as the result of either depletion or a congestion of Qi, Moisture, and Blood. This
may occur when the integrity of the channels themselves is damaged -- such as by a sprain or strain -- or through disease.
For instance, if there is a disease of the liver then the flow of Qi through the liver channel will be abnormal.Channels and OrgansThe concept of channels has no counterpart in Western medicine.
These channels provide the basic ‘road map’ for acupuncture therapy, which has become widely accepted by
Western medicine in the past few decades. The TCM
view of the organs is very similar to that of Western Medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine the
major functions of the body are built around the five main organs, which are the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver
and the spleen. The Chinese call them the five Zang or five solid organs, and the system of the five Zang
organs controls the main Yin Yang balance of the body. Each of the
Zang is linked to a hollow or Fu organ. Each fu organ channel connects internally and externally with a
zang organ channel. The linkages are: the heart with the small intestine; the lungs with the large intestine;
the kidneys with the urinary bladder; the liver with the gall-bladder; and the spleen with the stomach.Treatment The
goal of treatment is to adjust and harmonize Yin and Yang, body and mind. This is achieved by regulating
the Qi, Moisture, and Blood in the Organ Networks. Treatment may incorporate acupuncture,
herbal remedies, diet, exercise, and massage. Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity,
and how long it has been present. As symptoms improve, less treatment is required, with individual progress being the yardstick.