Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system that takes a deep understanding of the laws and patterns of nature and applies them to the human body. TCM is a complete medical system that has been practiced for more than five thousand years.
At the heart of TCM is the tenet that the root cause of illnesses, not their symptoms, must be treated. In modern-day terms, TCM is holistic in its approach; it views every aspect of a person’s body, mind, spirit, and emotions as part of one complete circle rather than loosely connected pieces to be treated individually.
The Theory of Qi
The true foundation of TCM is Qi, which is loosely translated as vital energy. In TCM, Qi is considered to be the force that animates and informs all things. In the human body, Qi flows through meridians, or energy pathways. Twelve major meridians run through the body, and it is over this network that Qi travels through the body and that the body's various organs send messages to one another. For this reason, keeping the meridians clear is imperative for the body's self-regulating actions to occur. Through proper training, people can develop the sensitivity to feel the flow of Qi.
TCM understands that everything is composed of two complementary energies; one energy is yin and the other is yang. They are never separate; one cannot exist without the other. This is the yin/yang principle of interconnectedness and interdependence; it is not oppositional. The intertwined relationship is reflected in the classic black and white yin/yang symbol. No matter how you might try to divide this circle in half, the two sections will always contain both energies. The energies themselves are indivisible. From the TCM perspective, this is Universal law at its simplest and deepest.
The Five Elements theory posits wood, fire, earth, metal, and water as the basic elements of the material world. These elements are in constant movement and change. Moreover, the complex connections between material objects are explained through the relationship of interdependence and mutual restraint that governs the five elements. In traditional Chinese medicine Five Elements theory is used to interpret the relationship between the physiology and pathology of the human body and the natural environment.
TCM believes that the human body is a microcosm of the Universal macrocosm. Therefore, humans must follow the laws of the Universe to achieve harmony and total health. The Yin/Yang and Five-Element theories are actually observations and descriptions of Universal law, not concepts created by man. In ancient times, practitioners of TCM discovered these complex sets of interrelationships that exist on deep energetic levels below the material surface. Over time, these insights developed into a unified body of wisdom and knowledge. TCM theories were applied to a way of life and to healing the human body.