The human being is a complex whole. Maintaining balance is based on a healthy lifestyle, both psychological and physiological, but also depends on many other factors. As Eastern philosophies have taught us for millennia, everything in the universe is interrelated. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a way of seeing the universe and its interrelationships. It can become a tool for getting to know each other better. And, who knows, help to achieve that harmony to which the human being aspires.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a “system”, a set of theories and practices about people and their health, dating back thousands of years. Its relative complexity for Westerners is due mainly to the following facts:
- It has its own philosophical and symbolic basis.
- She sees body, heart, and mind as a whole.
- It was developed not by dissecting the dead, but by observing the living. Therefore, nothing is seen as static.
- It considers phenomena not in themselves, but from the relations between them. As a result, the health of an organ or individual depends on multiple factors, all of which are interrelated.
- It uses several common terms in a different sense from what is commonly understood in the West.
The General Principle: Harmony
Traditional Chinese medicine first aims to maintain the harmony of energy within the body as well as between the body and external elements. Health is linked to the organization’s ability to maintain the necessary momentum to deal with aggression. On the other hand, the disease occurs when the body has lost its ability to adapt.
Each has a particular constitution in which the different elements interact, according to a balance of their own. That’s what we call the land. In two people, the same symptom (headache or difficulty to digest, for example) does not, a priori, have the same cause, but an imbalance specific to each of them.
For the health to be maintained, harmony must reside in each of the elements of the whole, as well as between the various elements. And at all levels: in each of the organs of the individual, and between these organs; in the individual, and between the individual and his environment. TCM does not treat symptoms, but the individual, in a holistic way.
The Different Practices of Chinese Medicine
To ensure human well-being, traditional Chinese Medicine uses five main practices. Each is presented in more detail in our fact sheets.
- Chinese Pharmacopoeia (medicinal herbs)
- Chinese Dietetics
- Tuina massage
- Energy exercises: Qi Gong, tai chi
The people trained in the five practices carry the title of Doctor of Chinese medicine. Only trained in one or a few of these practices, they bear a specific title, acupuncturist, herbalist, etc.
Ying Yang: What is It?
The balance is never static, but constantly in motion between the two opposing, complementary and interdependent forces of Yin and Yang.
The yin represents the forces of the passive type, shadow, cold, depth, humidity, etc. The Yang designates the forces of the active type, light, hot, surface, dryness, etc. as a garden needs both rain (Yin) and Sun (Yang), all organisms need both forces. Yin and Yang are always in a dynamic relationship: as one grows, the other decreases. In all natural cycles, Yin and Yang are always ones after another, as day follows night, action at rest, inspiration at expiration, and vice versa.
In a healthy individual, the movements of Yin and Yang are harmonious. But when one becomes weak or lacking, the other takes over and manifests itself through its symptoms. A lack of Yang, for example, results in a pale complexion, faintness, loose stools (paleness, coldness, softness being Yin characteristics).
Let us mention that, according to Chinese thought, the principles of Yin and Yang are found both in nature, in and in Physiology.
It is also important to know that for traditional Chinese Medicine, organs and elements represent phenomena that go beyond the only function they are recognized in our anatomy and traditional thinking; that is why they are written in capital letters.