- from Complete Chinese Medicine by Tom Williams
The birth of medicine in China can be dated back approximately 5,000 years. The early history of medicine in China include the pre-scientific supernatural medicine of the Shang (1776 - 1100 BC) and early Zhou dynasties and the foundation of rational science and medicine in the late Zhou and Qin (221 - 207 BC) dynasties. The establishment of scientific medical discipline about 3,000 years ago in China is now called Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has been continuously developed and improved through out history.
Chinese Medicine is also used to refer to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is based on the principle that our health is dependent in the balanced functioning of the body's motivating energy, known as Qi (pronounced Chee). It views the human body and its interaction with the environment as an integrated whole and emphasises the harmony between various organs within the body and the harmony between body and nature. Any illness is believed to be caused by loss of the harmony due to the imbalance between the opposite qualities of Qi, namely Yin and Yang.
Another important concept in Chinese medicine is the Blood, which is not merely the physical substance that is recognized as blood in West medicine. Chinese medicine sees Blood as a very material and fluid manifestation of Qi. Thus by continuously circulating through the body, Blood helps carry the nutritive aspects of Qi.
The practitioners in traditional Chinese medicine are not looking for symptoms in isolation, but rather a total picture of the patient. A detailed understanding is required of the patient's symptoms, past medical and family history, life style and diet, behaviour of all the systems in the body, emotional feelings and many other aspects. Having decided on the cause(s) of the problem, appropriate methods of treatment are selected according to various rules governing the movement of Qi in the body.
Traditional Chinese medicine consists mainly of acupuncture and naturally occurring herbal medicine.
As a complementary therapy, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have shown greatest potential in the areas where modern medicine is less able to help, or where side-effects caused by the powerful drugs are the main concern. More and more western people are turning to traditional Chinese medicine because it has been proved to be unique and effective.