Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine

It is impossible to explain the theory of Chinese Medicine on one web page, but here are a few concepts to help you understand the fundamental concepts of this ancient art of healing.

Yin-YangYin and Yang  阴阳

Yin/Yang philosophy dates back 600 years to the 4th millennium B.C. Its logic assumes that analysis of  a part can only be understood in relation to the whole.  All things have 2 facets – Yin and Yang.  Think of Night and Day, Heaven and Earth, Winter and Summer, Male and Female, Hot and Cold.  These concepts are opposites, but describe relative aspects of the same phenomena.  They cannot be thought of in isolation.  Yin and yang create each other, control each other, and transform into each other.  In the body, if yin and yang are unbalanced, for prolonged periods, this can create problems.  Chinese medicine seeks to recognise this, and bring the yin and yang back into balance – to promote harmony in the body. 

QI 气

2000px-Ki_obsolete.svgEvery object in the universe is composed of and defined by its Qi.  It is a combination of matter and energy – the thread connecting all being – the life-force.  On a physical level, Qi has to do with strength and energy.  On a psychological level, Qi describes consideration, motivation, resolution and awareness.  Qi has 5 major functions in the human body:

  1. Qi is the source of all movement

  2. Qi protects the body

  3. Qi is the source of nutrient transformation

  4. Qi maintains structure

  5. Qi warms the body

Blood 血

Blood in Chinese medicine is not the same as what the West calls blood.  A major activity of Blood is to continuously circulate through the body, nourishing and maintaining its various parts.  According to Chinese medicine theory, Blood “stagnation” or deficiency are the cause of many ailments.

Meridian Channels 经络

meridiansMeridian Channels are the pathways that carry Qi and Blood through the body.  An invisible lattice that links all the fundamental textures and organs – a kind of information network.  Qi and Blood move along the channels, and a therapeutic system is organised.  The meridians regulate yin and yang.

Meridians connect the interior of the body to the exterior, and this is the basis of acupuncture.  Working on points on the surface of the body will effect what happens inside the body by changing the activity within the meridians.  Most acupuncture points relate to meridians, and most Chinese herbs are thought to enter one or more of the meridian pathways.

There are 12 meridian channels, each associated with a particular organ in the body.  A problem associated with a meridians connecting organ will create disharmony in the meridian manifesting in problems elsewhere along the channel.  For example, a problem with the stomach meridian may cause upper toothache because the meridian passes through the upper gums.