What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

TCM is a system of medicine that began thousands of years ago in ancient China. The first written texts about TCM date back to 200-300BC and it has been practiced ever since. It is based upon the belief that energy (Qi/chee) circulates throughout the body, and when it does not flow properly, disease or ‘imbalance’ occurs. There are many reasons that Qi flow can be disrupted but generally include physical and/or emotional stress, poor diet, and lifestyle. Health can be preserved by living in sync with our natural environment and living a balanced lifestyle. 

When imbalance does occur, a practitioner of TCM will use acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, gua sha (gwa sha), lifestyle and diet advice, Tui Na (twee nah) Massage, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi exercises, to restore balance and therefore the health of the patient.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based upon multiple theories that explain how the body works including the theory of Qi, Yin & Yang, and the Five Elements. These theories describe the natural world and the laws of the universe, including human beings, as we are not separate from the natural world.

The basic theories that TCM is based upon are:

  • The theory of Yin and Yang
  • The theory of Qi
  • The theory of the Five Elements

Ancient texts also refer to the 5 Vital Substances; Qi, Essence, Blood, Spirit, and Body Fluids. In TCM, the body is known to have 12 organ systems and corresponding meridians, along with 8 more 'extraordinary' meridians that don't have an associated organ but still play an important role in the functioning of the body.

Meridians are channels of energy that flow throughout the body in a continuous circuit, providing energy to all parts of the body. The 12 organ systems consist of 6 pairs of organs, working together with each other and with all the other organs of the body so that the body functions properly.