Traditional Chinese Medicine (also known as TCM) includes a range of traditional medical practices which are originated in China. These practices are well accepted in the mainstream of medical care throughout East Asia, though it is considered an alternative medical system in much of the western world. Dr. Lily Li is such a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Yangshuo.
Traditional Chinese Medicine practices include treatments as herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and traditional massage. Qigong and Taijiquan are also closely associated with TCM.
The idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to generate a balance (yin and yang) within the body which is considered to be a mini universe. It is a thousands of years old system to diagnose and cure illness which developed through observation of nature, the cosmos and the human body. There are many theories including Yin-Yang, the Five Phases, the human body Channel system, Zang Fu organ theory, six confirmations, four layers and many more.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Zang Fu organs are the core of the human body. Tissue and organs are connected through a network of channels and blood vessels inside human body. Qi (or Chi) acts as the carrier of information that is expressed externally through the system.
Zang Fu is a concept within traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that describes the functions of the organs of the body and the interactions that occur between them. Zang refers to the yin organs – heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, pericardium – whilst Fu refers to the yang organs – small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder, stomach and san jiao.
Each of the twelve zang-fu organs have a corresponding organ, except the pericardium and san jiao which both describe functions that are not related to an organ. The San Jiao is said to be a metabolism mechanism similar to an old-fashioned water wheel that is turned by incoming water and creates energy for accomplishing a task, such as grinding grain in the case of the water wheel. In the case of San Jiao it is metabolizing and digesting food.
Thus when one of the organs has a dysfunction, it is always in relationship with other organs. Therefore the treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine always starts with the analysis of the entire system.
This is followed by focusing on the correction of pathological changes through readjusting the functions of the zang-fu organs.
Clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are mainly based on the yin-yang and five elements theories. Typical TCM therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicine, Chinese food therapy, hot cupping, massage and qigong exercises amongst other therapies.
With acupuncture, treatment is accomplished by stimulating certain areas of the external body. Herbal medicine acts on zang-fu organs internally, while qigong tries to restore the information flow inside the network through the regulation of Qi (think of Tai Chi).
Depending on the persons problems the therapy differs. However, all therapies share the same underlying sets of assumptions and insights in the nature of the human body and its place in the universe. Some scientists describe the treatment of diseases through herbal medication, acupuncture, and qigong as an “information therapy”.
A diagnostic of a of a disease is always based on observing and curing the whole system rather then treating the symptom itself. This is a significant different between Chinese Traditional Medicine and western treatments.
There are four types of TCM diagnostic methods: observe, hear and smell, ask about background and touching. The pulse-reading component of the touching examination is so important that Chinese patients may refer to going to the doctor as “Going to have my pulse felt.”
Traditional Chinese medicine is considered to require considerable diagnostic skill. Dr. Lily Li in Yangshuo has followed a training period of years before she opened her own practice in Yangshuo to understand the full complexity of symptoms and dynamic balances.