Theory of Chinese medicine

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The clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are mainly based on the yin-yang and five elements 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 qigong exercises. With acupuncture, treatment is accomplished by stimulating certain areas of the external body. Herbal medicine acts on zang-fu organs internally, while qigong tries to restore the orderly information flow 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. Some scientists describe the treatment of diseases through herbal medication, acupuncture, and qigong as an "information therapy".


The Concept of the Organism as a Whole

A) The Unity within the Body.

The human body is made up of viscera, bowels, tissues and other organs. Each of them has its own special physiological functions. All these different physiological functions are a component part of the entire life process of the body. And this determines the unity within the body. Therefore, the component parts of the human body are inseparable from each other in structure, related, subsidiary and conditional to each other in physiology, and of certain influence upon each other in pathology. These mutual relations and influences are centered around the five viscera the heart, the liver, the spleen, the lung and the kidney and come into effect through the channels and collaterals. For instance, the heart is interiorexteriorly related to the small intestine, controls blood circulation, and has its “specific opening” in the tongue proper and so on. Look at the following tables:

Five Viscera

Six Bowels

Five Body Constituents

Five Sense Organs



Small intestine








Large intestine
























Urinary bladder







Remarks: Of the six bowels the triple warmer doesn’t coordinate with the five viscera. In the theory of channels, they and the pericardium channel are interior-exteriorly related.


B) Man lives in nature and takes nature as his vital conditions for living. In the meantime, he is influenced directly or indirectly by the movements and changes in nature, to which he is bound to make corresponding physiological and pathological responses. For example, as the climate varies with the four seasons in a year, the normal pulse conditions including pulse rate, rhythm, volume, tension, etc.are also varied. The pulse becomes stringlike in spring, full in summer, floating in autumn and sunken in winter. This provides a basis for doctors to distinguish abnormal pulse conditions from the normal ones during the clinical diagnosis. The occurrence, development and changes of many diseases are seasonal.

Based on the theory of the circulation of qi characteristics of TCM, the pathogenesis of the human body is often influenced by the periodic changes of the climate, which take place every 12 years or every 60 years. In recent years, scientists have realized that the law of these periodic changes has something to do with the cycle of sunspots, which is formed every 11 to 12 years.


TCM believes that different geographical surroundings produce different effects on the physiology and pathology of the human body. The effects are even so great as to extend or shorten human lives.


C) Diagnosis and Treatment Based on an Overall Analysis of Signs and Symptoms

Generally speaking, the same syndromes are treated in similar ways. Take cold for example, if it manifests itself in more severe chilliness, slight fever, a tongue with thin and white fur then it belongs to the exterior syndrome caused by wind and cold, and should be treated with strong sudorific drugs pungent in taste and warm in property, to dispel the wind and cold, if its manifestations are more severe fever, milder chilliness, a tongue with thin and yellow fur, then it belongs to the exterior syndrome caused by wind and heat. Of course diagnosis and treatment based on an overall analysis and differentiation of symptoms and signs should not remain at the present level or stand still or refuse to make any further progress, but instead, be enriched, renewed, developed and improved continually alongside the advancing of modern natural sciences.



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