The dynamics instead of structures (Kaptchuk, 2000). There

The use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a
therapeutic agent has been recorded since the Shang dynasty however it was
vastly different from what is practiced as TCM today. The most recent record of
TCM being practiced as it is today was acupuncture in the first century BCE (Unschuld,
1985). TCM is heavily based in philosophical origins and thus is hard to
compare to conventional Western medicine. TCM does not particularly concern
itself with what is known as an organ, but instead focuses on the functions of
anatomical parts based on dynamics instead of structures (Kaptchuk, 2000).


There are two major abstract concepts present in the TCM
school of thought. Other minor concepts are based upon or rely on these two. The
first is Yin and Yang. This is the idea that everything in the universe can be
broken down into two complementary parts. For example, Yin correlates to the
Moon and Femininity, whereas Yang correlates to the Sun and Masculinity. This
concept is applied to the human body where illness and disease are the tipping
of the balance between Yin and Yang.

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The second concept is the Five Phases (??,
wuxing). This concept
postulates that there are five elements that make up the universe. Everything
is an amalgamation of these elements. The five elements are: ? (fire, huo), ? (wood, mu), ? (earth, tu), ? (metal, jin), and ? (water, shui). Each element has an
effect on the others and thus illness and disease are caused by an excess or
deficiency of elements (Aung & Chen, 2007). For example, ingesting too much
deep fried food (which is considered “heaty”) would cause mouth ulcers, acne,
and sore throat amongst other symptoms. Since water counteracts the fire
element, the TCM remedy for this would be to drink or eat “cooling” food and
drink such as chrysanthemum tea or watermelon.

TCM has a
few other smaller concepts. One would be ?? (zangfu)
organs. These organs are Yin or Yang in nature. ? (zang) organs are Yin in nature and
have a corresponding? (fu) organ that is Yang in nature. Every zang fu organ is assigned to one Wuxing. These organs are not equivalent
to Western defined organs since zang fu
organs are of a functional origin and not of an anatomical origin. Ancient
Chinese believed that dead bodies are inauspicious and could cause illness thus
autopsies were not common. This diminished the possibility of cutting open a
body to explore the anatomy.

Another concept is ? (qi). There is no direct translation
to English that encapsulates the Chinese word itself due to its lexical
ambiguity but life-force or energy are the most common translations. It was and
is believed that qi circulates not
just throughout the human body, but through every being in the universe and through
the universe. In humans, qi is
believed to flow through certain pathways known as meridians. Stability and
balance in one’s qi would result in
one being healthy. A disruption, blockage or imbalance of qi would cause illness and/or disease.



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