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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, originated in China and is one of the oldest healing systems to date which has been in continuous practice for thousands of years. It includes Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Tuina, exercise and breathing therapy (such as qigong), and diet and lifestyle advice.

TCM is based on traditional Chinese philosophy which sees the human body as an integrated whole, and completely connected to nature, with a natural self-healing ability. As so, TCM sees that good health relies on the restoration and maintenance of harmony, balance and order to the body by taking a holistic approach to understanding normal function and disease processes and focuses as much on the prevention of illness as it does on the treatment.

In short, TCM is influenced by traditional Chinese philosophy – Yin & Yang, Five elements theory, which uses a holistic approach as guidance, organs manifestation and meridian as its physiology and pathology, and Syndrome differentiation as its diagnosis and treatment features.

TCM Key Features

Holistic approach – TCM sees each and every structure in your body as an integrated whole. Which is connected by Meridian system and powered by life force, or energy – Qi and Blood.

Diagnosis and treatment by Syndrome differentiation – TCM treatment is tailored made to suite each individual according to the person’s body constitution, symptoms by TCM method of diagnose which is observation, listening and smelling, questioning, and pulse reading.

TCM Basic Theory


Yin and Yang theory – The concept of Yin-Yang is the most important and distinctive theory in Chinese medicine. It is extremely simple, yet very profound. It represent two opposite but complementary qualities. It is the general terms for the opposing aspects of objects or phenomena in nature.

Yin – the shady side of the hill. It is associated with such qualities as cold, rest, responsiveness, passivity, darkness, interiority, downwardness, inwardness, decrease, satiation, tranquility, and quiescence. It is the end, completion, and realised fruition.

Yang – the sunny side of the hill. It is associated with qualities such as heat, stimulation, movement, activity, excitement, vigour, light, exteriority, upwardness, outwardness, and increase. It is arousal, beginning, and dynamic potential.


Five elements – The Five Elements are a comprehensive template that organises all natural phenomena into five groups or patterns in nature. Which is Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water—include categories such as a season, a direction, climate, stage of growth and development, internal organ, body tissue, emotion, aspect of the soul, taste, color, sound . . . the categories are seemingly limitless. The Five Elements reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world.

Organ Manifestation Theory – It is the core of Chinese medical physiology, because it best represents the Chinese medical view of the body as an integrated whole, which represents a landscape of functional relationships that provide total integration of bodily functions, emotions, mental activities, tissues, sense organs and environmental influence. Divided into Yin organs (called ‘Zang’脏) – store the Vital Substance which they receive from the Yang organs after transformation from food, which is Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver and Kidney; Yang organs (called ‘Fu’腑) – do not store but are constantly filled and emptied. As well as carrying out the process of transformation, the Yang organs also excrete waste products, which is Gall Bladder, Stomach, Small Intestine, Large Intestine and Bladder; Extraordinary Yang Organs (called ‘Qi Heng Zhi Fu’奇恒之腑) – They are called ‘Extraordinary Yang Organs’ because they function like a Yin Organ, but have the shape of a Yang organ, which is the Brain, Marrow, Bone, Blood Vessels, Uterus, and Gall Bladder. All the Six Extraordinary Yang Organs store some form of refined essence, such as Marrow, bile or Blood.

Meridian System – Meridian system is a complex network system in the human body in TCM understanding, which is a pathway that flows the Qi and Blood, connects the human body as a integrated whole.  It is divided into  2 categories, the meridian channels, which contain the 12 principal meridians, the 12 tendinomuscular meridians, the 12 divergent meridians, and the 8 extraordinary vessels; the collaterals, which contain 15 major arteries that connect the 12 principal meridians in various ways, in addition to the interaction with their associated internal organs and other related internal structures.