While we in the West are more familiar with the way doctors practice traditional medicine for healing, the ancient Eastern practice of medicine known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), has recently become popular in the West as an alternative to traditional medicine. In order to understand the way illness is treated in traditional Chinese medicine, we need to understand their view of illness in the human body.
Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the Taoist philosophy that the human body is a universe with a set of complete and interconnected systems. Those systems usually work in balance to maintain the healthy function of the body. This is the principle of yin and yang. These two opposites are constantly in motion, creating a fluctuating balance in a healthy body. Illness occurs when either yin or yang is in a state of prolonged excess or deficiency. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are trained to view the body, mind and spirit as one system and to treat the disease in a holistic manner. The balance of yin and yang is considered with respect to qi (breath or life force), blood, jing (essence), other bodily fluids, the five elements, emotions and the soul or spirit (shen).