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Traditional Chinese Medicine. DIFFERENCES. Traditional Chinese Medicine is different from modern medicine . It did not need technology or information about pathogens .

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Traditional Chinese Medicine is different from modern medicine. It did not need technology or information about pathogens.

Instead, it used strategies passed down from generations to generations that helped in understanding an illness from a wide experience of their impact and association with the human body.



- If a patient has excessive bowel activity for example, modern doctors will apply diagnostic techniques to eliminate observable pathologies e.g. dysentery or ulceration and if the tests come back negative, they state it as “irritable bowel” with implicit physiological cause.

  • The TCM on the other hand, would evaluate the nature of the symptoms, their chronicity, severity, and other qualities and then might conclude the problem to be:
  • sluggish digestive metabolism,
  • unwholesome diet,
  • suppressed anger,
  • emotional disruption,
  • one or more various forms of debility,
  • cold in the stomach or in the bowel,
  • imbalance of heat and cold in the body,
  • damp heat (e.g. hepatic disease),
  • or digestive imbalances


  • Another difference would be that like homeopathy, TCM does not consider bacteria or viruses as the cause of a disease or symptom.
  • If an organ is weak, it is vulnerable and therefore can be attacked by anything. In this case, the weakness of the organ or body is the problem and treatment is done accordingly.
concepts in tcm
Concepts in TCM

Qi, the essential life force:

Qi (or Chi) permeates everything. It is transferable. e. g. digestion extracts qi from food and drink and transfers it to the body. Breathing extracts qi from the air and transfers it to the lungs.

These two forms of qi meet in the blood and form “human qi”

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

qi the essential life force
Qi, the essential life force

It is the quality, quantity and balance of qi that determine human’s state of health.

Food and air affect health, so diet and breathing exercises are very important. These aspects are considered first before herbs are introduced

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

yin and yang
Yin and Yang

The theory of yin and yang still permeates all aspects of Chinese thought

Yin: negative/passive/dark/female/water

Yang: positive/active/bright/male/fire

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

yin and yang1
Yin and Yang

They are always in balance, where yin becomes weak, yang is strong and vice versa. Both contain the seed of each other: their opposites within themselves.

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)


Yin and Yang

The yin is the passive or nourishing aspect of any phenomenon; the condensing, centripetal, sustaining, and preserving. e.g. water (negative/dark)

The yang is the active aspect of any phenomenon; the dispersive, centrifugal, transforming and expansive. e.g. fire (positive/bright)

They are always in balance. Yin and yang represent the constant change that occurs in our bodies. If the yin is weakened, the yang is strengthened and vice versa.

the five elements
The Five Elements

The earth is divided into wood, fire, earth metal and water. They dominate everything on earth, and each is associated with a vital organ of the body:

Heart: fire

Liver: wood

Spleen: earth

Lungs: metal

Kidneys: water

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

the vital organs
The Vital Organs

The organs are also considered to be yin and yang and are paired.

Coupled organs are connected by meridians, or energy channels, through which qi flows. Meridians are not associated with the nervous system and can not be seen physically. They are stimulated with herbs and by acupuncture and will have a direct effect on a particular organ as well as a toning effect on the system.

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

causes of disease
Causes of Disease
  • Bacteria, viruses and chemicals are not considered to be cause.
  • If an organ is weak, it may be attacked and therefore the weakness is the cause and must be rectified.
  • It may be a result of an external forces and internal emotional factors

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)


Diagnosis & Treatment

The art of diagnosis therefore was to distinguish between these two different scenarios and the art of medicine was to develop appropriate strategies for the particular system defect.

The symptoms of any illness can be caused by excessive activity (yang) or alternatively relative stasis or congestion (yin).

In the first case (yang), treatments would include things that encourage the body, mind and spirit to relax and be calm. e.g. massage

In the second case (yin), stimulation or mobilization to restore the body to its natural state would be required.


Dosage forms

Herbs are provided as mixtures of individual dried plant parts that patients have to cook themselves.

For those who are not used to this kind of technique, other options include coated pills and most recently tincture or capsules.


Other Chinese Treatments

Acupuncture is a well-known Chinese therapy. It involves the careful insertion of needles that only pierce the superficial layer of the skin in certain areas of the body known as “acupoints” or acupuncture points.

There are many different forms of acupuncture, for example electro-acupuncture which involves an electric current applied to the needles after they are inserted.

Another well-known therapy is the typical massage


Cupping – a type of Chinese massage where a lit match is inserted into several glass “cups” which is removed before being placed on the body. The heated air inside the cup expands and once placed on the skin, cools down to create low pressure and the cup sticks to the body via suction. It can be used with massage oils as well



A substance with pharmacological effect has, by definition, the possibility of a toxicological effectand that is due to adulteration in Chinese Medications.


Importance of Learning TCM

Many patients have turned towards using these alternative methods as a means of medicine, if for its quick availability and cheapness.

Pharmacists are required to learn about and understand the basis of TCM not to practice their methods, but to advise their patients if they are currently using herbal medications or are considering its use. Also it is a stepping stone when searching for new drugs.



Ayurveda is the ancient and sacred ( Hindu ) system of health care originating in India over ago. It is purely Indian and does not include any other cultural influences.

Ayurveda is considered to be the most ancient of all medical disciplines.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the patient is viewed as unique, and ‘normality’ as what is appropriate for that particular person.

Although Ayurveda originated in India, it was found miles away from India which led to the appearance of the concept “Ayurvedic tourism”.

The literal translation of the word “Ayurveda“ is from the two Sanskrit words “Ayu” which mean life and “Veda” which means knowledge. Therefore, the term Ayurveda means the (knowledge or science of life)



The chartisamhita ــــan ancient Indian Ayurvedic text on internal medical defines “life “ as:

“A combination of the body sense organs, mind and soul; the factor responsible for preventing decay and death, which sustains the body over time and guides the processes of rebirth.”

Ayurveda is concerned with measures to protect “ayus” , which includes healthy living.

Also with therapeutic measures that relate to physical , mental , social and spiritual harmony.

It is also one of the traditional medicines which has a sophisticated system of surgery.


Ayruvedic Concepts

Prana also known as the “life energy “

it activates both the body and mind in Ayurveda medicinal system. It is contained in the head and controls the main functions of the mind including: emotions , memories and thoughts.


are the five basic elements of Ayurveda

ether (or space) air, fire, water and earth. They are seen as manifestation of energy and can be equated to the five senses of hearing, vision, touch, taste and smell.


are the three humours or basic forces that manifest in the human body. They are formed from the five bhutas and are known as vata, pitta and kapha.



There are three basic principles or humours known as the Tridosha.

These three humours (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) control all biological, psychological, and physiopathological functions of the body and mind.

Diagnosis and treatment are therefore requires an understanding of the relationship between the three humours.


The tridosha has recently been redefined as an equilibrium, balance and coordination between the three vital body systems ,the tridoshacan also be considered to govern all metabolic activities:

For example:
  • When vata is out of balance, the metabolism will be disturbed, resulting in excess catabolism, which is the breakdown or deterioration process in the body; excess would therefore induce emaciation.
  • When anabolism is greater than catabolism (excess kapha), there is an increased rate of growth and repair of organs and tissues.

Reference: Heinrich, M.; et al: Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytopharmacy, (2004)

principle of ayurveda
Principle of Ayurveda :
  • Health is maintained by taking steps to keep the Tridosha (vata, pitta, and kapha in balance .
  • Many of the drugs prescribed in Ayurvedic medicines are herbs and patients may have to take them as (tinctures, inhalations, pills, capsules, or powder) or by combining them into their diet in a prescribed fashion.
preparation of ayurvedic medicines
Preparation of Ayurvedic medicines :

The main principles that guide Ayurvedic medicinal formulation are: synergy, opposition, enhancement, protection and balance.

  • Each of these principle is summarized below :
  • Synergy is the enhancement of the effectiveness of herbs and minerals with similar or complementary action when combined together.
  • Opposition is the counter-balancing of an undesirable effect of a herb or mineral by adding another ingredient with the opposite action .
  • Enhancement is the promotion of the efficacy of the main ingredient by either increasing its activity or its absorption or by the addition of other ingredient to a formation .
  • Balance describes when the antagonistic action constituents of a formula are considered to counteract each other .


  • They are widely used herbs and are considered remedies that have diverse action and therefore effect many systems of the body leading to a positive effect on health--- panaceas in other words .