Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine
The population of China is 5 times that of the United States. They have been using acupuncture and herbal medicine to cure many diseases for thousands of years. They have, therefore, summarized a lot of practical experiences and have developed their systems on theories of diseases. The major ones are: yin and yang, qi and blood, the 5 elements, and the organs.
Take a look at nature- there are nights and days. Night is yin, day is yang. The theory is that everything can be divided into yin and yang. Many different symptoms can be thought of in terms of yin versus yang. If the yin and yang lose balance in the body, then disease occurs. Therefore, it must be balanced for the human being to be healthy.
Blood is nutrition which sustains the whole body. Qi is energy. Both circulate in the body. Their congestion or deficiency can cause disease. For example, qi deficiency can cause fatigue. Blood deficiency can cause infertility, like the poor soil that cannot grow plants.
Again, take a look at nature. There is fire, water, metal, wood, and earth. These 5 elements are created and controlled by each other. When they are balanced, then the world is peaceful and human beings are free of disease. The five main organs of the body correspond to the five elements and relate to one another in a similar fashion. For instance, water corresponds to kidney; fire corresponds to heart. When there is not enough water to control fire, the fire rises, which can cause menopause symptoms; restlessness, hot flushes, sweating, thirsty symptoms like a person in very hot weather.
During the wars in ancient times, Chinese doctors learned anatomy from exposed body organs. Their beliefs of the main organ in the body, i.e. heart, lung, spleen, kidney, liver, are mostly different from the Western medical concept of these organs.
Heart: indicates the circulatory system and also the spirit or the mental system
Lung: indicates the respiratory system
Spleen: indicates the digestive system
Kidney: indicates the endocrine system or hormone system, also aids in metabolism of water
Liver: ensures the smooth flow of qi and blood, balances the emotions
These organs must be balanced. If there is an excess or a deficiency, diseases can happen. For example, too much stress can cause the liver qi to stagnate.
When looking at nature, there is wind, heat, cold, damp (rain or fog), and dryness in the environment. If the environmental conditions are too excessive and the body is weak, they may become pathogenic and cause disease. Foe example, if the weather suddenly changes from hot to cold, people may catch colds easily or develop allergies or sinus infections.
Methods and Practice
In nature, human beings are between the heavens and earth. A person is like a tree with roots in the earth, and branches stretching to the heavens. A Chinese Medical practitioner is like a gardener who takes care of trees. If the leaves of the tree fall off, the gardener wants to find out what is causing the tree to become sick. Is there not enough water, or are worms attacking it? If a person gets sick, the first step is to collect all of the symptoms by taking the history. The pulse is checked, which includes not only how many beats per minute, but also the qualities (there are at least 24 distinct qualities). The Doctor also examines the tongue, including the size and color, type of coating, etc. Because there are problems inside, the signs will be revealed outside.
The second step is to analyze all the symptoms and signs to find out what is causing the disease. Is there cold or heat? Is there deficiency or excess of the liver? Is there deficiency of qi or blood?
The third step is to find out the reason causing the disease. If it is heat, we needle certain acupuncture points to move qi for dispelling heat; we also put together a group of herbs to drink as tea in order to clear heat. After the treatment, the patient is improved or cured.