History and Practice
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a traditional medical approach that has been formalized and built on for more than 2500 years in China. The history of TCM originates from Ancient China and has spread throughout and developed over time in other Asian countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore to name a few. Although TCM is considered an alternative medical approach in modern day western medical science, however, TCM is one of the core medical systems of Eastern Medicine, such as Ayurveda and Unani. TCM is considered to be one of the most complete medical system of all of the traditional medicines in the world.
Traditional Chinese medicine is characterized by its unique holistic approach towards the human body. The holistic approach is based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of our celestial universe, such as, I Ching, Yin Yang, Five Elements and Pa Kua. These philosophies are applied into the theory and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and are basis of how our physical form functions and heals.
In TCM, the main healing approaches are acupuncture and herbology. Other treatments such as moxibustion, bone setting, massage therapy, cupping, scraping and exercise are all applicable based individual needs in order to regenerate and balance the body's oneness, the inner universe of our selves.
The idea of yin and yang is quite simple; the theory behind it however is far more complex. The iconic symbol of the yin yang is a circle made up of both black and white. It appears as a double curve forming the letter “s” between each color. At the heart of each section is a solid circle of its opposite color; black inside white, white inside black.
This unmistakable symbol represents more than just the black and white outer surface. Yin and Yang can be represented by many elements. Yin is typically thought of as dark, sinking, water, cold, etc., whereas its opposing but complimentary force yang is represented as bright, rising, fire, hot, etc. The concept of yin and yang is not simply a concept in ancient Chinese proverb, but can be seen in our everyday lives. Take for example, day and night. This fundamentally superficial part of nature that we all take for granted is intrinsically yin and yang. As well, the sun and moon which are the fundamental components of day and night are yin and yang.
In the field of medicine this idea of yin and yang and the fundamental principles which apply are very much the same. We can categorize humans as being hot or cold, weak or strong, sick or healthy. This categorization can be taken a bit further in that when understanding illness a person can have an excess or be deficient. For example, spending all day on the beach or in a park and getting sunburned would be considered a yang excess. Another example could be spending a great deal of time making snow angels and having snowball fights. Being out in the cold is no different than being out in the sun. This could cause a person to have yin excess, hence too much cold. These examples are the extremes, but follow the standard principles of yin and yang. These principles are explained below.
Yin and Yang Follow 6 Simple Principles:
Yin and Yang balance each other. Neither predominates, a harmony exists.
Yin and Yang co-exist. Yin reflects yang and vice versa (eg. inward function has outward manifestations). Mutual dependency (eg. support of nutrition (yin) allows the function (yang) of the organs). Deficiency of one causes deficiency of the other.
Yin and Yang can exchange quantitatively. If yin or yang is expended, the opposite releases to keep up with the loss.
Yin and Yang can exchange qualitatively. A transformation occurs (eg. extreme yang transforms into yin, and vice versa).
Yin and Yang undergo infinite subdivisions. An infinite series of subdivisions occurs (eg. yang possesses a yin and yang component and each of these also has a yin and yang component, and so on).
Yin and Yang can block each other. During an imbalance of yin and yang, the stronger prevents balancing from occurring (eg. excessive yang prevents yin from balancing the excess).
Our bodies and the environment in which we choose to live, naturally engage in a balancing act which makes Abimoxi medicine a complex, yet fundamentally clear-cut form of medicine.
The conceptual scheme of process and change
The human body works as a system and when functioning at its peak potential, allows no single organ to work independently or to over-control any other organ. Each organ has its specific function and each organ works as a symbiosis with every other organ to maintain health and protect the body from outside influences. This type of a system works very efficiently, effectively, and independent of our conscious understanding. Each part of the human organism has a relationship with every other part and no single part can function properly without each counterpart. It is this reason that Chinese Medicine is considered holistic and has five fundamental components (5 elements) which govern, mediate, and assist in our function and survival.
The foundational components of Chinese medicine rely on understanding the five elements and the properties associated with each element. The five main elements are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth with the accompanying organs being lung, kidney, liver, heart, and spleen respectively. Each has numerous properties distinguishing it from the others and each play a crucial role in the others fulfillment. The components associated with each element (each organ) include a: color, season, direction, flavor, emotion, sensing organ, and an expression, etc.
As stated above, when discussing the 5 elements we must look at how each element interacts with every other element and how each affect the others. This interaction or relationship is typically divided into four categories; the promoting function, controlling function, over-controlling function, and resistance function. These relationships are relatively simple. Imagine for a moment that each element is arranged in a pentagon fashion, shown in the image below. The healthy promoting function (when everything is working properly) allows each element to support and promote another, so everything is in harmony. When everything is in harmony our bodies are healthy and balanced.
As well, the controlling function (shown in the image below) acts as the checks and balances system, whereby each organ provides a normal and necessary control over another to ensure all activities are in check at all times. Hence, allowing our bodies to remain in a healthy balanced state. It is only when our bodies become out of balance that illness ensues.
When the body becomes out of balance one type of unhealthy relationship that may have occurred is called an over-controlrelationship. The name implies exactly what happens, one element over-controls another and the equilibrium which once was, no longer exists. See the following image.
The other relationship that may occur during sickness is resistance of control. Resistance of control is where one organ does not allow itself to be normally controlled by another and pushes back rather than accepts.
The human body functions as a delicate balance of organs and processes and a simple thing such as a cold breeze from the winter air can affect this system greatly. This is why we must listen to our bodies and respond accordingly.