Traditional Chinese medicine (中醫, pinyin: zhōng yī) (TCM), is a label that covers a broad range of traditional medicine practices spread throughout Asia, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy, and dietary therapy. The common thread among these diverse practices is a system for balancing the various functions of the body, based in Daoist principles of yinyang and other metaphysical belief systems, that originated during the Warring States Period in regions that are now part of China. These practices are a common part of medical care throughout East Asia, accounting for roughly 75% of worldwide use, but are considered alternative medicine in the western world.
TCM practices use a different physiological model than modern western medicine, and make a number of assumptions that are inconsistent with or untestable under the principles of scientific medicine. In general, TCM practices take a holistic approach, viewing the body in terms of organ system based loosely around particular body functions (such as digestion or excretion) rather than in terms of isolated organs. These organ systems are conceived to be interrelated in various systematic ways, and various techniques are used to stimulate or support weakened systems or to soothe or dampen over-excited systems. Chinese medicine in practice, thus, involves an often subjective diagnosis of the general state of various organ systems followed by ongoing efforts to reestablish a healthy balance between the systems.
A broad range of ‘over-the-counter’ medicinals loosely related to TCM are available. Many of these – such as yinchiao, a commonly used medicinal for colds and flus – are innocuous, but some may contain dangerous chemicals added as ingredients or byproducts of production, and certain sexual potency medicinals are complicit in the near extinction of animals such as the rhinoceros and siberian tiger. Because of the different disease entities recognized by TCM and scientific medicine, it is difficult to scientifically test the efficacy of TCM drugs. Other treatment practices have confirmed but limited results in clinical studies.
Definition courtesy Wikipedia.