About Chinese Medicine

TCM & Classical Chinese Medicine, The Eight Principles & The Five Elements

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is distinct from Classical Chinese Medicine. TCM is characterized by a somewhat materialist approach to diagnosis and treatment. This approach has strong ties to the western linear model of health care making it very useful for integrating eastern and western medicine but often limiting the practice of acupuncture to a "symptoms only" treatment approach and thereby missing out of the depth of healing available in the Classical approach.

TCM was given its name during the Cultural Revolution by the Chinese government in the 1950s. Prior to the Cultural Revolution, Chinese medicine was identified by the family lineage from which it sprang and the Daoist and Confucian science and philosophy that formed a foundation for diagnosis and treatment. Over thousands of years several schools formed and from these schools the Classical texts of Chinese Medicine emerged. During the Cultural Revolution many scholars from various lineages went into hiding or died. To this day practitioners are still piecing together the wisdom of the ancients by retracing the steps and translating Classical texts.

In the West, Chinese Medicine has a long history in the United States. During the colonial period Chinese medicinal teas and herbs came to America. Beginning in the 1850s, Chinese immigrants came to the United States and among those immigrants were Chinese physicians practicing in pulse diagnosis, herbal remedies, and acupuncture. The journey from immigrant physicians to the formal education of Westerners and the establishment of a licensed TCM practitioner in America is a long story. It is a story of struggle and revolution, of racism, classism, and cultural appropriation and slow but meaningful reform. That reform and healing is still underway today. To read more about that check out the book, Herbs and Roots: A History of Chinese Doctors in the American Medical Marketplace, by Tamara Venit Shelton.

Fast forwarding to the 1970s, schools began to form to educate westerners in the practice of Chinese Medicine. Over the years these schools became identified as Eight Principle Schools - associated with TCM, and the Five Element Schools - associated with the medicine's Daoist roots. Fundamentally these two systems are naturally integrated and both are applied in the clinical practice of Chinese medicine. What makes the difference is the approach of the clinician. Over the past decade schools of Classical Chinese Medicine have emerged and have begun to remedy this false division. These schools are perhaps the best yet, as they place an emphasis on the science of Confucianism and Daoism. These schools also focus education on newly translated Classical texts and on a thorough understanding of modern medicine. Chinese medicine here in the West is in a constant state of deepening. Armed with the science and philosophy of Daoism and Confucianism and newly translated Classical texts, practitioners in the West are now reaching ever deeper for what seems like endless subtlety and refinement of our understanding of this ancient science.

About Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbs have been used as medicine for more than 2500 years. The effectiveness of these medicinal substances has been documented in China and in other parts of Asia for centuries. Knowledge of the power of Chinese herbs was passed down through generations of herbal medicine scholars and finally transcribed into the texts that are still used today. The ancients classified more than 300 plants, minerals and animals into 18 categories based on the way they affect the body. These herbs are further classified by qualities such as the meridians affected, taste and temperature. Such distinctions remain at the foundation of Chinese herbal medicine theory and practice today. The prescription of Chinese herbal formulations is an art that draws on a strong foundation of Chinese natural philosophy, and Chinese medicine theory.

Quality and Safety of Herbs

I use the highest quality herbal products on the market. Where possible I purchase organically grown herbs. The capsules, tablets, granules and tinctures are quality controlled and each batch is tested to ensure the absence of toxins. To find out more about the packaged herbal products that i prescribe please check out the following web sites and read about the purity and safety standards they follow.

To read more please check out these links to manufacturers quality information quality control page