Dr. Shen's Introduction to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).. Yin Yang? Meridian Points?

A Brief Introduction To TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM, is a branch of medical practice from China with more than 3,500 years of history.  TCM emphasizes on the holistic approach to understanding normal body function, processes of diseases and the prevention of diseases.  This is achieved by observing and identifying the symptoms and signs with TCM Diagnostics, and then treat with different forms of TCM Practices.  

The Philosophy of TCM is based on Yinyangism and it is best explained with the Yin and Yang Symbol.  Let’s take a look at the symbol.  

yin yang logo


The Black Color represents Yin and the White Color represents Yang.  Yin and Yang are complements of one another and they represent complementary agents in nature.  “Yin“ means to be in the shade or dark therefore it represents anything dark, cold and negative; “Yang” means to be in the light therefore it represents anything light, hot and positive. 


The Yin and Yang in the symbol are in equal parts and it represents a Balance.  Within them are elements of the opposite, meaning neither can exist without one another.  Let’s put this into perspective!  A good example is Wake (Energy) and Sleep

  • Wake is Yang, we are active when we are awake. Sleep is Yin, we all need sleep after being active all day long.
  • A good balance of Yin and Yang is to expend energy we stored from our sleep and then restoring it in our sleep. Just like all other living creatures on Earth, our body naturally responds with changes to light and darkness in a cycle called the Circadian Rhythm.  This is why we naturally sleep at night and wake up when the sun comes up.  Therefore an interruption to our Circadian Rhythm causes an imbalance of Yin and Yang. 
  • When we don’t get enough sleep, we are not able to restore enough energy to keep us going in the daytime. With our current lifestyle, we often rely on things such Caffeine to give us a boost of energy.  Most of the time a midday Coffee Fix is enough to get us through the rest of our day.  However, over-relying on Caffeine can cause us to become tolerant because our sensitivity to it is decreased, this means our usual midday Coffee Fix just won’t cut it anymore!  The medical term for feeling tired or lack of energy is FatigueProlonged Fatigue can lead to Exhaustion or even Death
  • When we have too much energy, we find it very difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • When Yin and Yang are imbalanced, it will lead to Insomnia.


Therefore to summarize, we develop symptoms and diseases when Yin and Yang are imbalanced, hence the key to great health is to achieve balance and harmony in the body!

TCM Principles

  • TCM treats the body as an integrated whole. The body is probably one of the most fascinating thing in nature.  Each and every structure in the body is necessary to function as a whole.  In TCM, the body has a set of channels called the Meridian Channels that transports Energy “Qi” throughout the body.  Any blockages in this system of channels suggest there are underlying health issues.  The clinical manifestations of diseases are results of overall reactions in the body.  For example, when there is Heat in the Liver, other organs such as the Heart, Spleen, Stomach and Kidney may be affected too.  
  • The body communicates with the external environment. Environmental factors such as weather, geographic location and working environments influence our health.  The body is capable of adapting to these environments, but diseases may develop when the body fails to do so. 
  • Prevention is key! I mentioned earlier that the key to great health is to achieve balance and harmony in the body.  Our body often show signs when there is an imbalance, therefore it is critical to listen to our body.  Most people are not experts in identifying these signs.  TCM Experts are trained to identify them, we use the Four Methods of Diagnosis to identify these signs in our patients.  We then prescribe a plan, whether with Chinese Herbs or Acupuncture, to help regulate the body back to its harmonious state.  

TCM Forms of Practices

TCM has many forms of practices to help the body achieve balance and harmony.  These practices include Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture, Tui Na (Acupressure Massage), Cupping, Die Da (Bonesetter), Gua Sha, Qi Gong, etc.  Not all of them are used all at once, TCM Experts evaluate every individual’s condition and come up with a plan specifically catered to this individual.  Just because Michael Phelps did Cupping, doesn’t mean you need it too.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt to try Cupping if you are curious, but please consult an expert before trying as Cupping is not recommended for pregnant women and people with bleeding disorders. 


I hope this information gave you a little bit of insight into TCM.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 



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