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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was originated in ancient China and has a history of over two thousand years. Influenced by ancient Chinese philosophy, culture, and science and technology, Chinese medicine uses the theory of Yin and Yang and the theory of Wu Xing to explain the mechanism of balancing the function of the body.

About Yin and Yang:

While the direct meanings of yin and yang in Chinese are positive and brightness versus negative and darkness, Chinese philosophy uses yin and yang to represent a wider range of opposite forces that are complementary and contradictory that cannot exist without each other. Together, the yin and yang make up the life energy, called “Qi”. Qi is a type of energy that flows through the body through invisible sets of pathways called meridians. The theory of Yin and Yang is fundamental to the practice of TCM, where the most basic level of TCM treatment is to seek the balance of yin and yang in each person.

About Zang(visera) and Fu(bowels):

There are two types of internal organs: the zang (yin) organs, and fu (yang) organs. Zang organs include: the liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney. Fu organs include: the gallbladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine and bladder.

Linked to the theory of Wu Xing: the theory of Zang Fu explains the physiological function, pathological changes, and the mutual relationships of each organ (refer to chart under Theory of Wu Xing). Each organ has their own characteristics and functions; zang organs mainly store the vital substances (qi, blood and body fluids), while the fu organs perform the functions of receiving and digesting food, and transmitting and excreting waste.

Linked to the theory of Yin and Yang: if there is an imbalance between the zang-fu organ system, signs and symptoms that correspond with the zang or fu system will be affected.

About Five elements(Wu Xing):

The theory of Wu Xing, the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) interprets the relationship and the constant movements and cycles between the physiology and pathology of the human body and the natural environment. The chart below outlines how the natural changes within the body and the environment affect your health.

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