According to TCM, health implies that the body system is in a state of dynamic equilibrium, not only between the various parts of the body but also between the body and environmental conditions.
How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work?
The Chinese regard the body as a system that requires a balance of yin and yang energy to enjoy good health. Each part of the body thought of as an individual system that requires its own balance of yin and yang to function properly. TCM assumes that a balanced body has a natural ability to resist or cope with agents of disease. Symptoms caused by an imbalance of yin and yang in some part of the body, and illness can develop if the imbalance persists for any length of time.
Disease causing Pathogens in TCM
Disease results when there is disturbance in the equilibrium. That is imbalance of yin and yang by certain factors called pathogenic factors causing disturbance in the harmony and balance of the body. In TCM, these are classifying as exogenous and endogenous pathogenic factors.
In short, health or disease depends on the outcome of the struggle between the vital energy and pathogenic factors. Pathogens cannot do harm, when vital energy is sufficient; however, when the vital energy is in deficiency pathogens can harm the body.
In TCM, the causes of diseases are generally fall into the following categories; they are:
- 6 Exogenous (Climatic) factors
- 7 Endogenous (Emotional) factors
- Improper diet
- Hyperactivity – too much activity
- Sedentary – too little activity (stagnation)
- Traumatic injury
- Insect, reptile or animal bites
Six exogenous factors
Spring-wind, summer-heat, summer-fire, later summer-dampness, autumn-dryness, and winter-cold are the six climatic variations of the four seasons known as the six climatic factors or the six exogenous qi. The human body has the ability to adapt to these climatic variations. However, when there is low adaptability to climatic changes, then the six climatic qi will become pathogenic factors bringing about the occurrence of disease.
Seven endogenous factors
Joy, anger, worry, anxiety, sadness, fear and fright are the seven emotions. The human body has the ability to adapt to these emotion extremes. However, when the emotional stress is more than once adaptability, then the seven emotions will become endogenous pathogenic factors causing disease.
- Anger - associated with the Liver system
- Joy - associated with the Heart system
- Worry/ Overthinking - associated with the Spleen/Stomach system
- Grief - associated with the Lung system
- Sorrow - (chronic grief) associated with the Lung system
- Fear - chronic condition (phobias) associated with the Kidney system
- Fright - acute condition - associated with the Kidney system.
Food partiality - Normally people should take a variety of food in proper proportions in order to ensure a balanced nutrition. There are two different cases in food partiality, partiality to cold or hot food and partiality to the five flavors.
- The five flavors are attributing to the five zang-organs respectively: Sweet linked to the Spleen/Stomach, Sour linked to the Liver, Bitter linked to Heart, Salty linked to the Kidney, and Pungent linked to Lung.
- Unhygienic food - can cause gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Starvation and overeating - Starvation refers to prolonged lack of food and insufficient intake of food. Overeating means excessive intake of food.
Disease prevention in TCM
TCM pay its most attention to the maintenance of the vital energy. The traditional Chinese medicine is essentially a health maintenance and disease prevention-oriented medicine. This preventive philosophy of TCM is of two levels: preventing the occurrence of disease and preventing further progression of disease.