Traditional Chinese Medicine 101


In my 37 years in the health and nutrition field, I have studied a lot of natural health systems. For me, two stand out, and I use them literally every day. Along with Ayurveda, I rely on the traditions of Chinese medicine to give me deep insights into what makes people tick, and what can help them get well. These two great Eastern health traditions sprouted from a common root, so they have a lot in common. Generally, when you understand the basics of one of them, you can master the other with a little dedication.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest established paradigms of herbal medicine that people still practice, and after Western medicine, is the second-largest medical system in the world.

According to Chinese cosmology, the whole of creation is born from the marriage of two opposite principles, Yin and Yang. Earth and Heaven, winter and summer, night and day, cold and hot, wet and dry, inner and outer, body and mind are reflections of this pairing of opposites. Creating and maintaining a harmony between these opposites means health, good weather, and good fortune, while disharmony brings disease, disaster, and bad luck. The entire aim of TCM is to restore harmony, in the world and in the body.

Every being has a unique ecology to be planted, tilled and tended. Like a gardener that uses compost, water and weeding to grow robust plants, TCM uses acupuncture, herbs and food, seeking to tenderly nurture and nudge the entire garden back into harmony, to recover and prolong good health. TCM views people as worlds in miniature, so it seeks to improve our capacity to balance and replenish our own capabilities. TCM minimizes the erosion of our soil by enriching it, makes the most of the flow of nutrients by supporting increased circulation to help avert blocks that obstruct the movement of bodily fluids and energies. Therefore, TCM anticipates problems by upholding our interior landscape.

Chinese medicine excels at enhancing the capacity for pleasure, work, and creativity. But it can help with ailments, too.

The history of Chinese herbalism is one of persistent and ongoing processes of observation and refinement of ideas in the real world. Centuries of formulation of theories, and testing of these theories in practice, have resulted in the system we recognize as Traditional Chinese Medicine today.

Sometime soon, I’ll blog more about TCM, and we’ll get more into the details of what makes it tick, and how you can use it in your day-to-day life.


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The Tea Talk Blog is written by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogi herbalist with over 40 years experience.
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