Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Frequently Asked Questions
9. What is traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM?
Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, is a healing system that dates back more than 5,000 years. It is based on the concept that disease results from the disruption in the flow of vital energy, or qi (pronounced "chee") in the body. The flow of qi is maintained by keeping a balance in the two forces known as yin and yang. TCM uses specific principles to analyze symptoms -- such as cold/heat, interior/exterior, excess/deficiency, and yin yang; and the theory of five elements -- fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—to explain how the body works.
TCM uses a number of therapeutic approaches such as acupuncture and moxibustion, herbs and other natural products, and massage.
Video length: 2 min 43 sec
Click to watch this video
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by a variety of techniques, including the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. It is intended to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health.
Moxibustion is the application of heat from the burning of an herb (usually mugwort) at the acupuncture point.
Herbs and other natural products in TCM are usually used together in formulas to fit a person's specific condition.