Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine in China is the collective name for the medicine of all ethnic groups in China, including Hang and other ethnic minorities. It is a medical system with a long history and tradition, and unique theoretical and technical methods that reflect the Chinese nation’s understanding of life, health, and disease. The basic theory of Chinese medicine is a theoretical summary of the changes in human life activities and diseases. It mainly consists of theories of yin yang, five elements, circuit and qi, visceral manifestation, meridians, etc., and contents concerning disease cause, mechanism of disease, diagnostic method, syndrome differentiation, therapeutic principles and methods, prevention, health preservation, and so on.

It belongs to the category of ancient Chinese philosophy. The theory believes:

Everything in this universe has yin and yang sides that are opposite but unified at the same time, and they are constantly moving, shifting, and interacting. Such movement and interaction are the sources of movement and change in all things. The ancients called this constant moving and changing phenomenon “incessant generation and transformation.”

In Plain Questions, a chapter titled Yinyang Yingxiang Dalun argues, “yin and yang are the Dao of everything [which means the existence of opposition and unity is the fundamental law of all things], the principle of all things [which means nothing can exist in violation of this law], the source of all changes [meaning the changes in everything are caused by the constant moving and interacting between the yin and yang sides of the thing itself], the origin of life and death [meaning the creation and destruction of all things come from this fundamental law], the center of mystery and certainty, therefore the cure must be based on the root [meaning to fully cure a disease, one must seek the root of the problem, namely yin and yang, and resolve from there].”

Yinyang Yingxiang Dalun expounds that the emergence, development, and death of everything in the universe are the result of the constant movement and interaction between the yin and yang sides of the thing itself. Thus, the theory of yin-yang has become a way of thinking to understand and master the law of nature. Medicine belongs to the scope of natural science, believing that the human physiological activities, occurrence, and development of disease are under the rules of yin-yang. Therefore, if we want to grasp the development of disease, explore the nature of it, and obtain satisfactory cures, we must inquire into the changes of yin and yang in the human body.

That is, to use the five philosophical categories of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water to summarize the properties of different things in the objective world, and explain the mutual connections and transformation patterns between things with the dynamic mode of the generation of and restriction among these five elements. This theory explores the movement and changes of the five elements and the relations among them. In terms of generation and restriction, it explains how things are connected, moving, and changing. Traditional Chinese medicine mainly uses this theory to illuminate the functional connections among zang-fu organs and the mechanism of disease occurrence when zang-fu organs are out of balance, but it is also used to guide the treatment of zang-fu diseases.

Also known as the five circuits and six qis, it is a theory that investigates and explores the effects of natural astronomy, meteorology, and the change of climates on human health and disease. This theory calculates annual climate change and the pattern of disease occurrences based on the astronomical calendar. The five circuits include the wood circuit, fire circuit, earth circuit, metal circuit, and water circuit, which refer to the seasonal cycle of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The six qis refer to climatic factors of wind, cold, summerheat, dampness, dryness, and fire throughout the year.

It mainly studies the physiological functions and pathological transformations of the five zang organs – heart, liver, spleen, lung, and kidney, six fu organs – small intestine, large intestine, stomach, bladder, gallbladder, and triple energizer), and the extraordinary fu-organ – brain, marrow, bone, vessel, gallbladder, and uterus.

It is closely related to the zang-fu theory. Meridians and collaterals are the channels for the circulation of qi and blood in the human body, and they enable the exchange between the interior and exterior, and connect the whole body. In pathological conditions, the functions of the meridian and collateral system change and lead to corresponding symptoms and physical signs, through which diagnosis can be made concerning the zang-fu diseases.

Excess syndrome: refers to syndromes caused by invasions of pathogens, or the blockage led by phlegm fire, blood stasis, worm accumulation, food accumulation, dampness, etc.

Deficiency syndrome: diseases caused by invasion of pathogens due to a deficiency of healthy qi and weak immunity. The characteristics of deficiency syndrome are that the patient stays sick for a long time and has a weak constitution. Deficiency diseases usually occur after serious illnesses and prolong recovery, are hard to be fully cured and prone to reoccur. It could also be that due to a deficiency of healthy qi, the body does not react to diseases in an obvious way or there might not even be any reactions or symptoms. Common symptoms include low fever, long-lasting fever, weight loss, perspiration due to deficiency, confusion, unclear speech, long-term loss of appetite, faint abdominal pain, little tongue coating/fur, thin and weak pulses, etc.

Cold syndrome: when the yang qi is deficient, the ability to keep warm decreases, causing cold extremities and skin, and fear of cold or cold food; the patient prefers to stay somewhere warm, feeling weak and malaise, constantly wanting to sleep or frequently having diarrhea and unformed stools. When such symptoms appear, the patient will be diagnosed with cold syndrome according to TCM.

Heat syndrome: when the body is invaded by heat pathogens, it experiences fever, thirst, confusion, coma, constipation, or bitterness in the mouth, bad breath, and the face turns reddish. Some patients with heat syndrome might have bleeding or various subcutaneous bleeding, and they might even have symptoms of mania or hysteria. The features of such symptoms are that they are heated, upward, active, and emanant. If the patient feels irritated at night and has difficulty sleeping, this is also a sign of heat syndrome. Irritability is a sign of having excess yang and heat in the body, one of the symptoms of yin deficiency and effulgent fire syndrome.

Excess heat syndrome: refers to internal heat symptoms due to the deficiency of healthy qi caused by the excess of pathogenic heat, which manifests in forms of 1) lung heat exuberance, with symptoms like coughing, having yellow phlegm, fever, sweating, etc. 2) yang brightness meridian syndrome and fu excess syndrome, or intense stomach fire, intestinal dampness-heat, with symptoms like thirst, excessive drinking, profuse sweating, abdominal distension, constipation, etc. 3) intense dampness-heat, divided into dampness-heat of spleen and stomach, and liver-gallbladder dampness heat. Common symptoms are bitterness in the mouth, dry eyes, abdominal distension, and sticky stool; 4) exuberant fire of the liver, and ascendant hyperactivity of liver yang, with symptoms like bitterness in the mouth, dizziness, headache, tinnitus, irritability, etc.

Deficiency heat syndrome: the fire isn’t strong, but the yang qi can not be contained due to a deficiency of yin, therefore causing the so-called deficiency fire. The symptoms of deficiency fire not only include heart deficiency, dry mouth, vexing heat in the chest, palms and soles, night sweats, insomnia, hot flashes, etc.

Exterior heat, internal heat syndromes: exterior heat is low heat, not high. If exterior heat is not treated well, it could turn into internal heat, which will have symptoms such as fever, blushing face and ears, and dry mouth. When you have heat syndrome, consult a doctor to identify whether it is excess heat, deficiency heat, internal heat, exterior heat, true cold with false heat, etc. as it’s complicated and difficult to pinpoint.