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Q & A on Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the oldest professional, continually practiced and literate medicine in the world. Written literature on TCM dates back almost 3,000 years. Currently, one quarter of the world’s population makes use of it. One can say that modern Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine are the two dominant medical systems in the world today.

Q. Isn’t Traditional Chinese Medicine just a system of folk healing?

A. No. This system has been created by some of the best educated and brightest scholars in Chinese history. These scholars have recorded their theories and clinic experiences from generation to generation in thousands of books. Currently, books and articles on TCM are published in professional journals throughout the world.

Q. How does Traditional Chinese Medicine work?

A. TCM works by re-establishing balance between yin and yang, balance between the five phases, balance between the viscera and bowels and balance between the qi (energy), xue (blood) and body fluids. This balance is re-established by supporting the body’s healthy or righteous energy and attacking any unhealthy or negative energy.

Q. How does a TCM practitioner determine what is out of balance?

A. The TCM practitioner uses four basic diagnostic examinations. The first is questioning the patient about their signs and symptoms, medical history and course of disease. The second is visually inspecting the patient’s face, body, and especially their tongue and its coating. The third is listening to the patient’s voice and the sound of their breathing, as well as smelling any odors emanating from their body or excretions. The fourth is palpating various areas of the body, and especially the pulse at both wrists. From these examinations, the practitioner can determine the pattern of disharmony that requires rebalancing.

Q. How is this rebalancing accomplished?

A. If something is too hot, the practitioner seeks to cool it down. If something is too cool, they want to warm it up. If something is too wet, they try to dry it; while if something is too dry, they try to moisten it. If something is stuck, they try to move it, and if something is flowing inappropriately, they try to make it flow in the right direction and in the right amount. The methods to re-establish balance are using acupuncture/moxibustion and Chinese herbs. Acupuncture and moxibustion seek to regulate the flow of qi and xue within the body, by either inserting fine, sterile needles at certain acupoints or warming certain acupoints by various methods. Chinese herbal medicines may be prescribed for internal use or applied externally. In addition, TCM practitioners may also use tui na or an mo, styles of Chinese massage. They may also prescribe remedial or preventative exercises, such as tai chi, qi gong or dao yin, and they typically counsel their patients on diet and lifestyle, all according to the theories of Chinese Medicine.

Q. Is Traditional Chinese Medicine safe?

A. Very. When practiced correctly by trained, qualified professional practitioners, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are extremely safe. In fact, when practiced correctly, they have no side effects and produce no iatrogenic or doctor-caused disease.


There is a plethora of information about Traditional Chinese Medicine and its implications on diagnosis and treatment of a variety of issues. Here you will find articles written by Dr. Qizhi Gao to help explain the essential theory behind the many imbalances we face within our bodies.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Holistic Concept, Dynamic View and Natural Therapies

Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke Rehabilitation and Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM and Heart Diseases

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Infertility

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