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Discovering healing powers of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

11-27-2015 14:58 BJT

By Jianyu Hou, freelancer based in Cleveland, OH U.S.A.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used by the Chinese as their main medical treatment for thousands of years. Beijing has legalized its use, standardizing the criteria of treatment and pharmaceutical products.


Due to its effectiveness, TCM holds much influence in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Even though modern Western medicine was introduced to East Asia in the 19th century, TCM remains popular.

Despite facing increasing competition with modern Western medicine, TCM continues to hold a large position of the markets in Asian healthcare, even exporting its ideas to the Western world.

TCM provides better solutions to certain diseases that are considered incurable through modern Western medicine, such as mental health problems, menstrual difficulties and infertility.

According to TCM, the human body is comprised of five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Symptoms of a disease are attributed to an imbalance of the five elements. TCM seeks to regain that balance. Instead of just eliminating symptoms, TCM treats the cause of the disease.

Modern Western medicine cannot remove the ultimate cause of some mental problems. Western medicine prefers psychiatric treatment and synthetic drugs so that such induced chemicals would influence the mental state.

Nonetheless, TCM strengthens the functions of organs to balance internal chemicals. Therefore, the human body can maintain balance by itself, not relying on external synthetic drugs that can cause numerous side-effects.

TCM believes the liver is the master of the element Wood. Wood represents the plant-like-fiber parts of the human body, such as blood vessels and nervous system. Modern science has discovered that the liver is responsible for removing waste from the body. TCM tells us that an overload of waste in the liver can cause depression or irritability, since waste is toxic to the nervous system.

Unlike modern Western psychiatric treatment, which uses chemical drugs to inhibit or increase the activity of certain parts of the nervous system, TCM uses natural herbs, such as the root of thorowax, to facilitate deep cleansing in the liver. When the liver regains its normal functions, mental problems could be treated more effectively. 

TCM is compatible with modern science. When faced with doubts from those who emphasize TCM has no logical and empirical supporting evidence, TCM experts have used modern scientific methodology to verify its scientific findings since the last century. Armed with modern scientific methods, TCM experts stay up-to-date.

The Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the cannon of TCM treatment. Chinese pharmacists have conducted modern pharmacological experiments for each kind of TCM medicine and recorded the findings. They identified the active parts of those medicines and analyzed their effects via testing on mice. 

Youyou Tu, the 2015 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine, had served in the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences for many years. During 1960s-1970s, she and her research team had discovered artemisinin from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, artemisia annua, used to treat malaria, which had saved millions of lives.

She published her findings in 1977 and presented it to the World Health Organization in 1981, but her discovery was nearly forgotten by the world.

The research was intended to help soldiers in North Vietnam suffering from malaria during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975. Due to the Cold War mindset, her achievement did not receive acknowledgement from Westerners until the Cold War ended and China’s revival moved ahead.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is more than a methodology of therapy, but a philosophical system about the relationship between human beings and nature, which is independent from Western thinking. It consists of oriental wisdom passed down from generation to generation. Before scientific methods were used to convey the concepts of TCM, Westerners could not understand its methods.

Yet nowadays, with the development of China and better communication between the East and the West, more Westerners are discovering the value of TCM and applying it to their daily lives.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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