Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has existed for centuries, being the preferred treatment method amongst the Chinese market. Yet, it is only in the past decade that it has started to get traction in the west. How has it become increasingly popular in western markets and does it have a place in modern medicine? In this article, we will be addressing these questions and helping you to determine how different it is from western medicine.

Fundamental Traditional Chinese Medicine Concepts

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the human body gets injured or falls sick when it is thrown off balance. The balance here refers to the 5 elements of nature, namely fire, water, wood, metal and earth. These elements are ever present in nature and in the human body, taking the form of heat, damp, cold, wind and more. They also can be categorized into either being yin or yang elements.

When there is an excess of yin or yang in the body, the body will be off balance. Consequently, its meridians, which can be thought of gateways for the body’s energy, become closed off. At which point, Qi, which is the body’s life energy, will not be circulated to certain parts of the body, leaving them vulnerable to disease or injury.

As such, much of traditional Chinese medicine is centered around maintaining balance between yin and yang in the body, as well as keeping its meridians open. While this may seem highly complicated or abstract, the base idea is to introduce elements that the body is malnourished in while limiting its exposure to elements that it has in excess.

For example, a TCM practitioner may prescribe herbs that introduce cooling effects if he or she determines your current condition to be caused by an excess exposure to damp. In doing so, balance can be restored to your body, allowing it to start the recovery process.

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine Differ From Western Medicine

TCM is fundamentally different from western medicine due to its beliefs and how it sees the human anatomy. While western medicine sees the body as having many separate parts that are joint together, TCM views it as one whole complex organism.

Consequently, this has a large impact on the way treatments are performed under each. In western medicine, treatment often directly addresses the issue or the part of the body that is suffering. Often times, the medicine or operation utilized aims to eliminate or remove the foreign substances in the body. As such, it can be described as a destructive approach to illnesses or injuries.

In direct contrast, TCM takes a much more indirect approach, aiming to reestablish balance in the body and thus allowing its self-defense and recovery mechanisms to activate. In essence, if the body has a good circulation of Qi, it will be able to start ridding itself of the problems that it has. In this case, TCM can be described as a bolstering or nurturing approach to medicine.