An old Chinese medical chart on acupuncture meridians Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine is largely based on the philosophical concept that the human body is a small universe with a set of complete and sophisticated interconnected systems, and that those systems usually work in balance to maintain the healthy function of the human body. The balance of yin and yang is considered with respect to qi ("breath", "life force", or "spiritual energy"), blood, jing ("kidney essence" or "semen"), other bodily fluids, the five elements, emotions, and the soul or spirit (shen). TCM has a unique model of the body, notably concerned with the meridian system. Unlike the Western anatomical model which divides the physical body into parts, the Chinese model is more concerned with function. Thus, the TCM spleen is not a specific piece of flesh, but an aspect of function related to transformation and transportation within the body, and of the mental functions of thinking and studying.
There are significant regional and philosophical differences between practitioners and schools which in turn can lead to differences in practice and theory.
Theories invoked to describe the human body in TCM include:
- Yin or Yang
- Five elements
- Zang Fu theory
- Meridian (Chinese medicine)
- Three jiaos also known as the Triple Burner or the Triple Warmer
The Yin/Yang and five element theories may be applied to a variety of systems other than the human body, whereas Zang Fu theory, meridian theory and three-jiao (Triple warmer) theories are more specific.
There are also separate models that apply to specific pathological influences, such as the Four stages theory of the progression of warm diseases, the Six levels theory of the penetration of cold diseases, and the Eight principles system of disease classification.
Following a macro philosophy of disease, traditional Chinese diagnostics are based on overall observation of human symptoms rather than "micro" level laboratory tests. There are four types of TCM diagnostic methods: observe ( wàng), hear and smell (^ wén), ask about background (O wèn) and touching ( qiè). The pulse-reading component of the touching examination is so important that Chinese patients may refer to going to the doctor as "Going to have my pulse felt"
Traditional Chinese medicine is considered to require considerable diagnostic skill. A training period of years or decades is said to be necessary for TCM practitioners to understand the full complexity of symptoms and dynamic balances. According to one Chinese saying, A good (TCM) doctor is also qualified to be a good prime minister in a country. Modern practitioners in China often use a traditional system in combination with Western methods.
- Palpation of the patient's radial artery pulse (pulse diagnosis) in six positions
- Observations of patient's tongue, voice, hair, face, posture, gait, eyes, ears, vein on index finger of small children
- Palpation of the patient's body (especially the abdomen, chest, back, and lumbar areas) for tenderness or comparison of relative warmth or coolness of different parts of the body
- Observation of the patient's various odors
- Asking the patient about the effects of their problem.
- Anything else that can be observed without instruments and without harming the patient
- Asking detailed questions about their family, living environment, personal habits, food diet, emotions, menstrual cycle for women, child bearing history, sleep, exercise, and anything that may give insight into the balance or imbalance of an individual.
The below methods are considered as part of the Chinese medicine treatment:
- Chinese herbal medicine (-å)
- Acupuncture(Ýx)- Moxibustion, Cupping(ÔP),Gua Sha (.ç)
- Tui na (¨ÿ) - TuiNa healing massage therapy
- Qigong (#Ÿ) and related breathing and meditation exercise
- Chinese food therapy (ßB)
- Physical ChiGong (#Ÿ) exercises such as TaiJiChuan (*uó), Standing Meditation (ÙŸ , Yoga, Brocade BaDuanJin exercises (kµ&) and even perhaps other Chinese martial arts
- Die-da or Tieh Ta (ÌS) as practiced usually by martial artists who usually know just parts of Chinese medicine as it applies to the therapy of wounds and trauma.
- Some TCM doctors may also utilize esoteric methods that incorporate/reflect personal beliefs or specializations such as FengShui (¨4) or astrology (kW)
Auriculotherapy (3íBÕ) comes under the heading of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Tieh Ta (ÌS) are practitioners who specialize in healing trauma injury such as bone fractures, sprains, and bruises. Some of these specialists may also use or recommend other disciplines of Chinese medical therapies (or Western medicine in modern times) if serious injury is involved. Such practice of bone-setting (t¨)is not common in the West