Chinese and Oriental Medicine
The philosophical origins of Chinese medicine have grown out of Daoism which bases its thinking on observing the natural world and manner in which it operates, so it is no surprise to find that the Chinese medical system draws extensively on natural metaphors. The laws of the Dao advocate moderation, living in harmony with nature and striving for balance.
Ancient Chinese believed that moderation in all areas of life is essential to a long and fruitful life. We are "fueled" by three treasures: Qi or Chi (pronounced chee), Shen, and Jing. Chi is energy or vital substance, Shen is the spirit, and Jing is our essence. In Chinese medicine, the metaphoric views of the human body based on observations of nature are fully articulated in the theory of "Yin-Yang" and the system of the "Five" Elements.
With a history of more than 3000 years old, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness. The TCM approach is fundamentally different from that of Western medicine. In TCM, the understanding of the human body is based on the holistic understanding of the universe as described in Daoism, and the treatment of illness is based primarily on the diagnosis and differentiation of syndromes.
Evaluation of a syndrome not only includes the cause, mechanism, location, and nature of the disease, but also the confrontation between the pathogenic factors and body resistance. Treatment is not based only on the symptoms, but differentiation of syndromes. Therefore, those with an identical disease may be treated in different ways, and on the other hand, different diseases may result in the same syndrome and are treated in similar ways.
The clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are mainly based on the Yin-Yang and Five element theories. These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological changes of the human body and its interrelationships. The typical TCM therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Qi-gong exercises.
With acupuncture, treatment is accomplished by stimulating certain areas of the external body. Herbal medicine acts internally on zang-fu organs, while Qi-gong tries to restore the orderly flow of information inside the network through the regulation of Qi. These therapies appear very different in approach yet they all share the same underlying sets of assumptions and insights in the nature of the human body and its place in the universe.