The Principles Underlying Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine has very sophisticated treatment modalities that are used to accomplish healing that have evolved over thousands of years of practice. TCM was and still is used as a type of preventative medicine to maintain people’s health. In ancient China, patients would be cared for a doctor to impede the onset of sickness rather than wait until they were already sick.

TCM’s overriding principle is to boost and/or preserve harmony of the spirit, body, and mind both within and without the person (his/her external environment). According to TCM, the human body is considered an interdependent and integrated system that responds to all stimuli, internal and external, in order to preserve its general healthy balance. When the body and spirit of the person are in harmony and well balanced in relation to their internal and external aspects, health is achieved.

Therefore, the objective of a TCM practitioner is not difficult to understand as it has always been the spotting of disharmonies and imbalances and their bringing back to homeostasis before somatic symptoms set in.

In TCM, the Qi (pronounced chee), is the most important principle in a person’s health. This Qi is known as the body’s life force or vital energy and can also be found everywhere in nature, in all living things, even in minerals. Certain TCM experts depict Qi as a wavelength that exists in various states of density. Bone, muscle, skin, and even stones can be considered as having certain wavelengths that can be physically touched and seen. As we can only detect a few, most wavelengths of nature are beyond the range of human perception and are therefore invisible to humans.

Qi can be preserved and positively influenced through maintaining a positive mindset, performing regular exercise, living in a positive environment, and eating high quality food.

Another principle used in TCM and symbolizes the energies of the female and male is the concept of Yin and Yang, which can be equated to the negative and positive forces of electricity and the female and male aspect of Qi. Yin and Yang complement and at the same time oppose each other which helps maintain a dynamic and continuous state of homeostasis. Constantly in flux, Yin and Yang naturally balance one another. So, if, for example Yang increases, Yin will decrease and vice-versa. Being endlessly dividable is another attribute these two principles share. Qi would not exist without Yin and Yang’s constant mobility.

The meridians within the body are the pathways of energy in which Qi freely circulates into all regions of the body. The human body possesses two extraordinary meridians and twelve primary meridians. Each meridian is associated with a specific organ function and system, and acts as the connective piece between areas or zones on the surface of the body and the inner organs.

The acupuncture points are points found in specific locations just above the meridians in the body. They can be located in skin depressions between bone structures, tendons, and muscles. The acupuncture points or acupoints, for short, can be easily accessed and the movement of Qi can be controlled through pressure or heat application or by needle insertion into these points.

The foundation of TCM can be said to be built on the Five Elements theory. The key to knowing about the natural function of a live body and its place in the endless cycle of synthesis and metabolism is in understanding how the elements of wood, water, metal, fire, and earth transform and connect. The Five Elements theory helps us to locate imbalances of energy and shows us how to bring back balance to help activate the body’s own healing power.

The art of manipulating Qi to achieve balance is a quality that qualified TCM practitioners are trained for in order to remove any obstructions that impair Qi’s free normal all over the various anatomical systems of the body.

TCM is resolved in locating the hidden reason of a dysfunction by means of an exhaustive observation and treating the body as a system rather than through medicating only specific organs. This will bring back restore well-being and health in a safe manner with significantly less side effects than the pharmaceutical drugs commonly prescribed by Western trained physicians.

Ivelisse DeJongh is a Miami acupuncturist and the medical director at DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic.