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By Ashley Esten & Sabrina Surdoval Traditional Chinese Medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Derived from Taoist philosophy Has been around since BC / early AD Classical Chinese Medicine was standardized to what we now call TCM Taught in nearly all medical schools in China

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traditional chinese medicine

Ashley Esten


Sabrina Surdoval

Traditional Chinese Medicine
traditional chinese medicine tcm
Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM)
  • Derived from Taoist philosophy
  • Has been around since BC / early AD
  • Classical Chinese Medicine was standardized to what we now call TCM
  • Taught in nearly all medical schools in China
  • TCM accounts for ~ 40% of care (higher % in rural areas)
traditional chinese medicine3
Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Based on concept of balanced qi (chee), or vital energy that flows throughout the body.
  • Qi regulates spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance.
  • Influenced by yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy).
  • Disease is a result of the qi being disrupted and yin/yang being imbalanced.
elements and principles of tcm
Elements and Principles of TCM
  • Five Elements
    • Water, wood, fire, earth, metal.
    • Describe interactions and relationships between phenomena.
    • Each organ is associated with one of the Five Elements. More effective to treat an organ during a particular time period.
  • Eight Guiding Principles
    • Cold/heat, deficiency/excess, internal/external, yin/yang.
    • Analyze and differentiate the energetic imbalances in the body or the nature of a patient’s condition.
how to choose among healers
How to Choose Among Healers?
  • In China, Western medicine and TCM are considered by the government to be of equal importance.
  • Choice of combined care is widespread.
  • Choose TCM/Western depending on illness.
    • TCM effective for immune conditions, chronic illness, or where the etiology is unknown
    • Western effective in acute situations or where the etiology is known
  • A study showed during a most recent illness:
    • 73% consulted Western doctors, 17% self-medicated while 9% consulted herbalists (Note: age and education were important determinants of their health care choice).
    • The most common reason given for their choice was faith in the practitioners they consulted.
    • When further consultation was needed for the same illness, 42% consulted herbalists, herbalists play an important complementary role when Western medicine fails to provide relief.
diagnostic tools the tongue
Diagnostic Tools: The Tongue
  • Has been an important diagnostic tool in TCM
    • Simple, non-invasive and inexpensive
      • To determine a patient’s condition and diseases, doctors use information on the color, degree of wetness and coarseness, and shape of the tongue.
        • A healthy tongue will be pink and moist with a thin clear or white coat.
        • Some signs of imbalance or pathology are red body, yellow coat, thick coat like mozzarella cheese, very dry body or cracks in the coat or body itself.

The diagram on the top represents the internal organs. The center diagram represents the body as having three parts - upper burner, middle burner, and lower burner. The diagram on the bottom represents the body as having two parts - interior and exterior.

diagnostic tools 12 pulses
Diagnostic Tools: 12 Pulses
  • A practitioner of TCM feels for six pulses in each wrist.
    • Three superficial and three deep at specific points along the radial artery.
      • The quality of the pulse is looked at in terms of frequency, rhythm, and volume
  • These 12 pulses correspond to the internal organs.
  • There are different pulse types
    • Scattered, intermittent, swift, hollow, faint, surging (to name a few) all associated with different things
  • Diagnostic Clip
  • A practice of piercing (with fine needles) specific areas of the body (acupoints) to relieve pain, induce surgical anesthesia, and for therapeutic purposes.
  • Used typically as a last resort or for preventative measures (“tune ups” or “balancing”)
acupuncture cont
Acupuncture cont.
  • Acupuncture has been proven effective in relieving postoperative pain, nausea during pregnancy, nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, and dental pain with extremely low side effects. It can also alleviate anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia (WHO 2003).
  • Acupuncture Clip
  • A form of heat therapy where a moxa stick (made of dried leaves of artemesia vulgaris) is burned and used to indirectly heat specific acupuncture points or regions of the body.
  • It is usually used to relieve pain and congestion and to provide an anesthetic effect.
  • Acupuncture and moxibustion are considered complementary forms of treatment and are commonly used together.
    • Moxa sticks heat the needles which send heat down to the point in which the needle is inserted (usually a muscle) or the moxibustion is done around the areas of the needles.
qigong chi kung pronounced cheegong
Qigong (chi kung){Pronounced cheegong}
  • Chinese system of physical training, philosophy, and preventive and therapeutic health care.
    • Combines aerobic conditioning, isometrics, isotonics, meditation, and relaxation.
  • Improves delivery of oxygen to the body’s cells, reduces stress, increases strength, lowers blood pressure, and improves resistance to infectious diseases.
  • Qigong is a soft form of a related set of disciplines that includes Taijj (Tai Chi Quan) and the hard form of Kung Fu.
qigong cont
Qigong cont.
  • Qigong can help one fight virtually any disease and helps prevent the onset of diseases .
  • Chinese doctors have applied qigong in hospitals and clinics to treat individuals suffering from a variety of ailments. These include:
    • allergies, arthritis, asthma, bowel problems, constipation, diabetes, gastritis, gout, headaches, heart disease and hypertension, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, lower back pain, etc.
  • Qigong Clip
  • The Chinese call this therapeutic bodywork tui na, which means "push" and "pull".
  • Works with the qi in the body along the same meridians as acupuncture
  • Two popular styles of tui na practiced today are the rolling and one-finger methods.
    • Rolling Method: used for joint and soft tissue problems, as well as insomnia, migraines, and high blood pressure. 
    • One-Finger Method: similar to shiatsu, (practitioners push points along the meridians with the tip of the thumb or finger). used for chronic and internal problems, pediatrics and gynecological problems.
  • Herbal remedies are used as often as acupuncture to treat energy imbalances and illness.
  • In China, traditional herbal preparations account for 30%-50% of total medicinal consumption.
  • Derived from plant, animal, and mineral substances, though plants are the most common.
  • Herbs have four basic qualities and properties:
    • Nature, Taste, Affinity, and Primary Action
  • When looking for the appropriate remedy, TCM practitioners apply medical theory - the Five Elements and Eight Guiding Principles - along with tongue and pulse diagnosis.
tcm herbs in practice
TCM Herbs in Practice
  • The herb “Ma Huang” (Ephedra) is traditionally used in China to treat respiratory congestion. In the United States, the herb was marketed as a dietary aid, whose over dosage led to at least a dozen deaths, heart attacks and strokes (WHO, 2003).
  • Chinese herbal remedy Artemisia Annua, used in China for almost 2000 years has been found to be effective against resistant malaria and could create a breakthrough in preventing almost one million deaths annually, most of them children, from severe malaria (WHO, 2003).

Artemisia Annua

chinese herb example
Chinese Herb Example


  • Functions: Disperses Lung Qi, Releases the Exterior
  • Indications: Wind Cold Invasion, mild chills and fever, common cold, influenza, headache, body aches, cough, shortness of breath, profuse clear sputum
  • Contra-Indications: Hypertension, spontaneous sweating, cardiac arrhythmia
  • King Herb: Ma huang (Ephedra) – Disperse the Lung Qi, Release the Exterior (causes sweating)
  • Minister Herb: Xing ren (Apricot seed) – relieve shortness of breath, relieve cough
  • Assistant Herb: Gan cao – (Licorice root) – harmonize all herbs

Ma huang


Xing ren

(Apricot seed)

Gan coa

(Licorice Root)