What is Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a global and energy medicine developed in China. It has been used for thousands of years. Already 3000 years ago, the Chinese culture expressed the concept according to which matter and energy are the same thing. Our body is considered as an energy system. In TCM health is an energetic balance among the different parts of the body, and between the body and the environment. On the contrary, disease is the loss of that balance. TCM is also a global medicine in that it considers the human being globally, as a whole. The body is seen as an integrated system, so if an organ falls ill, the other organs must be treated too, because they are all connected.

The theory that constitutes the TCM is closely related to the Chinese thought. From the theory, empiric data were organized in a medical corpus that forms the TCM as we know it today. The only way to understand it is to study the theories on which it is based on. Those theories do not have a correspondence to western culture.


TCM uses four main therapeutic methods:

Other methods are cupping, auricolotherapy, food therapy, self-massage, guasha, ect.

The study and practice of TCM had ups and downs during the centuries. For example, after the War of Opium (1839-42), western medicine began to spread all over China, and this led to a repression of TCM. In 1922 it was even banned. Acupuncture survived among the people until 1945 when the Popular Republic of China restored the principle of coexistence of Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Nowadays TCM is recognized in China as an important factor in prevention and health development, together with western medicine. Although regarding herbal medicine we still lack proper studies about its effectiveness, acupuncture is recognized as a proper therapy by the World Health Organization for dozens of diseases, like headache, dysmenorrhea, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

It has always had an enormous importance all over the East. In fact, acupuncture spread not only in China, but also in South East Asia, Korea and Japan. Some other subjects, such as Shiatsu massage clearly refer to TCM theory and practice.

At present, different Countries have different laws to regulate TCM.

In Italy, only western physicians can practice acupuncture, but in other Countries, such as Great Britain, it can be practiced also by other operators, after specific courses of studies and certifications. On the contrary, Tuina massage and Moxa can be practiced freely in Italy. There are not public schools or university to learn them and all the courses are organized by private schools that in the latest years have started to unify in national association, also unifying syllabi and certifications.

(January 2014)