Traditional Chinese Medicine
Known as a branch of traditional medicine, this medicine extends to over 3,500 years that include various practices like herbal medicine, cupping, acupuncture, massages, etc. The basic goal of TCM is to circulate the body’s vital energy through channels although this hasn’t been proven. Therefore, the effectiveness of Chinese medicine remains doubtful because it hasn’t been tested scientifically. There are serious health concerns with poisonous plants and herbs along with illegal transport of animal products.
The mention of Chinese medicine appears in ancient books and others such as the “Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon” and others while it is prevalent among their cultural books as well. TCM aims to create harmony in the human body as the universe’s harmony.
The Shang dynasty shows evidence of Chinese medicine. The figures of animals or shells indicate disease and disorders. Moreover, Joseph Needam found stone and bone needles in ancient tombs; this proves that acupuncture may have been used by the Shang dynasty. The book, yellow emperor discusses the relation of humans and the environment in-depth and discusses different symptoms of illnesses and talks about practices that can cure them.
After some years, many shorter books have been published that summarize Yellow Emperor. In 1950, Chairman Mao Zedong spoke in favor of TCM and this led to an increase in its popularity and use. Thereafter, in 1966 the Cultural Revolution struck and this brought downfall to traditional Chinese medicine. This revolution brought a new China to the world and they abandoned several old practices and the government began a healthcare system from scratch. Trainers and doctors are trained in both Western medicine and traditional medicine.
There are many like Zhang Zhongjing, Hua Tao, Zhang Jiegu and many others.
When Hong Kong began, Western medicine was unpopular and western doctors were not native. The inclination towards culture made TCM so important that it went unregulated. In 1870, the Tung Wah Hospital was where the first Chinese medicine was introduced with free medical services. But when media started shouting the name of western medicine it quickly grabbed the attention of many.
TCM covers a broad range of medicine and practices that go back more than 2,000 years according to sources. TCM is used in China as well as the west and their philosophy is known as Yinyangism which means the combination of five phases theory with Yin-Yang theory.
Yin and Yang
Ancient Chinese concepts that present two abstract and complementary aspects that the universe is divided upon. They are frequently represented by symbols of water & fire. The concept of yin and yang is related to the human body, for example, the back is yang whereas the lower body is yin.
There are strict rules that apply to the Five Phases and their sequence is crucial along with counteraction. The influence of the Five Phases on TCM is immense. It is also applied in the diagnosis and therapy of diseases.
Model of the body
TCM works on the principle that the body’s vital energy flows through channels and these branches are connections to the body, its functions, and organs. These functions are then aggregated and then linked with a functional entity. In conclusion, TCM is recognized as pseudoscience and some practitioners even do not consider yin and yang as ideas of flowing energy. Science has not been able to find proof or evidence of their existence therefore; many researchers have denied their objectivity.
Gender in traditional medicine
In traditional Chinese culture, women and men were thought to be different. Patients were given medicines carefully and their genders were taken into account. Women were shy about their issues and they hid their symptoms so doctors linked women’s sickness and/or diseases to the reproductive system or cycle. In several instances, men were supposed to stay with the woman that is being treated however this tradition fell with time. The book Yazuan yizong jinjian is a guide that explains traditional medicine and in it, there are many images of men, this implies that there were assumptions regarding men and women. Along with this, there were many beliefs which made men stand higher than women as male figures were shown to have the generic human body.
Clinical encounters with women
It was more difficult to diagnose women more than men in TCM. First, women remained silent or shy about their issues, second, a male authority had to listen and be present with the female and third the patriarchal society made doctors reference their women and children patients as “the anonymous category of family members”.
The study which focused on women was known as Fuke. The most problems that arose regarding women were in pregnancy.
There were many pre-conceived notions regarding pregnancy and women. There was a law that stated: when a pregnant woman dies she cannot be buried until the child is removed from her and ancient doctors were not allowed to perform this practice on women that were alive. Therefore, pregnancy was seen as menstrual irregularity, uneasy digestion and these symptoms were found in other diseases as well so this created more confusion. This led to complications and extreme results where abortion was seen as a foul option and this made families quarrel often.
Female health and medicine
As mentioned earlier, men and their health were considered and understood more than women and their bodies were seen as frail and the weaker ones. It was difficult to treat women’s diseases and illnesses and this created huge barriers in society. Fu Ke is the Chinese term that is women’s medicine. Chinese understood women’s bodies from the concept of Yin and Yang. Moreover, there are several barriers and confusions portrayed by society and the culture that made women’s health a complex subject. Women themselves were often not open to talking about their illness and this prevented them from being understood.
To conclude, women and their diseases were not understood by Chinese medicine at all. They related and linked it to incorrect beliefs that this complicated the understanding of female health and medicine.
Concept of disease
Disease is seen as disharmony in the functions of the body that can be solved by therapy. Practitioners often examined in ways like checking pulse, body health, color of tongue, quality of breathing etc. Then, treatments were prescribed according to the disease the practitioner understood.
TCM categorizes diagnosing disease in 4 groups, namely: Inspection, Auscultation, Inquiry, and Palpation. Inspection is about the face and the features that are present on the face like tongue.
Auscultation is about sounds.
Olfaction is about body odor.
Inquiry is about the general condition of the symptoms that the person is facing.
Palpation is the pulses on wrists, etc.
Herbal medicine is an umbrella term that takes many titles under it.
China has more than 13,000 medicinal and over 100,000 medicinal recipes present in their literature.
There is a vast variety of animal substances present for example leeches, scorpion, testicles and penis bone of the dog, etc. Even though TCM greatly supports these substances, science says that they are not scientifically proven therefore they cannot be trusted or become objective. There are medicines that include parts of rare or endangered species like tiger bones and they are used to treat many diseases.
Human body parts
TCM includes many human parts like the bones, fingernails, hairs, earwax and many others.
Since 2007 there hasn’t been enough research that supports or proves that herbal therapies and medicine are effective and useful. The herbs that the Chinese recommend are unregulated in the US.
TCM has gained popularity in the Western world and this has raised doubts for the practitioners of conventional medicine. They believe that certain medications that include plant or animal parts can be toxic and these ingredients may be harmful to health. Traditional medicine may have metals in it and these chemicals and toxic substances may lead to death.