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Questions and answers About the Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM)

Q: How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) Work?

A: Traditional Chinese medicine(TCM) is based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine. The ancient Chinese recognized a vital energy behind all life forms and life processes. They called this energy qi (pronounced chee). In developing an understanding of the prevention and cure of disease, healing practitioners discovered that energy flows along specific pathways called meridians. Each pathway is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ. Disease arises due to a deficiency or imbalance of energy in the meridians and their associated physiological systems. Acupuncture points are specific sites along the meridians. Each point has a predictable effect upon the vital energy passing through it. Modern science has measured the electrical charge at these points, corroborating the locations of meridians. Traditional Chinese medicine uses an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis, palpation of points and meridians, medical history and other signs and symptoms to create a composite diagnosis. A treatment plan is then formulated to induce the body to a balanced state of health.

Many conditions may be alleviated very rapidly by acupuncture and Chinese medicine. However, some conditions that have developed over a course of years will be relieved only with slow, steady progress. As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome of a course of treatment. Patients are encouraged to actively participate in their healing process. Although Chinese medicine can treat most conditions, there are circumstances that can be dealt with more effectively by Western medicine. In such cases, your acupuncturist will recommend you contact a Western medical doctor. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine should be seen as complementary to Western medicine.

Q: How about the formation and development of TCM?

A: Traditional Chinese medicine has its roots in ancient history. The earliest artifacts yet discovered are stone needles which have been unearthed in New Stone Age ruins. Inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells dating to the Shang Dynasty 3000 years ago bear the earliest written record of the pictograms for acupuncture and moxibustion. During the third and second centuries B.C., the "Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic" was compiled. This work laid the theoretical foundation of Chinese Medicine and has survived until the present day. The content of this classic includes physiology and pathology of the human body, principles of diagnosis and prevention and treatment of disease.

Q: What are the distinguished features of TCM?

A: TCM has its own unique understandings about the physiological activities and pathological changes in the human body. It has , as well, many distinguishing features in terms of the diagnosis and treatment of disease. This unique theoretical system has two basic characteristics, i.e., the concept of integrity and treatment on the basis of differentiation of syndromes. For example, it views the body as an organic whole. The center of this organic integrity is the system of Zang-fu organs which are linked through an elaborate system of meridians. Traditional Chinese medicine also views the relationship between the human being and nature as an integrated one. And though it recognizes the importance of the six climatic factors and seven emotions in the pathogenesis of diseases, it emphasizes the importance of the endogenous pathogenic factors even more. A diagnostic system of syndrome differentiation (bian zheng) has been created based on the four diagnostic methods,the eight principal syndromes?and the differentiation according to the theory of the zang-fu organs. TCM also place the first priority to prevention, while considering treatment as secondary. It suggests treating a disease by looking first into the root cause, taking into consideration, at the same time, the climatic and seasonal conditions, geographic location, and the patient constitution.

Q: What are the basic theories of TCM?

A: The theories of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, Zang-fu Organs, Meridians and Acupoints, Qi, Blood and Body Fluids, the Seven Emotions and the Six Pathogens, Four Diagnostic Methods and Differentiation of Syndromes formed the basic knowledge of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and moxibustion constituted the main forms of treatment.

Q: What is the concept of Qi in TCM?

A: The ancient Chinese described an essential life force or vital-energy called Qi, which is present throughout the cosmos and in every living creature. This Qi can and must constantly move and change. Qi enters the body mainly in food and with the breath, after which it is extracted and circulated throughout the body along specific pathways call meridians. These meridians link the vital organs inside with the skin and muscles on the body surface, as well as form the channels of communication between the vital organs and accessory organs of the body.

As long as Qi flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained. Disruption of he flow of Qi through the meridian results in pain and illness. The use of acupuncture can correct such disruption by shunting Qi to those areas where it is deficient and draining it from areas where it is excessive.

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