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Oriental Systems

Traditional Chinese Medicine has existed for at least 2,000 years. The earliest medical text, the Huangdi Neijing or "Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine" is thought to have been written around 500-300 B.C. and is still used today.

Chinese medicine consists of acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal medicine as well as acupressure massage, cupping, therapeutic exercises, and advice on diet and lifestyle. It is based on the principle of internal balance and harmony. When there is good balance between all the internal organs, the body and mind, and the external environment, there is good health. When this state of harmony and balance breaks down, there is disease.

Vital Energy

The Chinese have a concept of universal energy or "life force." This vital energy known as chi (pronounced chee) or qi is said to be the basis of all life. In the human body the chi circulates through the body via 14 major energetic pathways known as "meridians." The meridians cannot be seen by the naked eye, but modern science has shown that their existence can be detected electrically. Most of the meridians connect to one of the major internal organs, and the chi is said to power the organ and enable it to function effectively.

Yin and Yang and The Five Elements

The chi is regulated by the interdependent forces of yin and yang, which govern all living things. Yin qualities are typically coldness, weakness, hollowness, and dark, while the opposite yang qualities are heat, strength, solidity, and light. The person's constitution or the nature of the disease may be described in terms of the yin/yang balance. For example, a person with a high fever, bright red cheeks, and an intense headache would be someone with an excess of yang, while someone with symptoms of chronic fatigue, pallor, and cold limbs would have an excess of yin. Treatment aims to restore the yinlyang balance.

The body is also said to be made up of five basic elements, Wind, Water, Earth, Fire, and Metal. All five elements must exist in good balance in the body. If one element predominates the others will become unbalanced and disease will result. The elements are affected by the seasons, the weather, diet, and even emotional state, and all these have to be considered in diagnosis; and treatment.

Other Oriental Systems

There are many similarities between Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine practiced in India, partly due to the influence of Buddhism on both. But the practice of Chinese medicine itself spread with Chinese civilization to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and practice and theory are very similar in all these countries. In Tibet there is a blend of Chinese and Ayurvedic systems.

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