Traditional Chinese Medicine — Overview
by Dr. Robert Kienitz, D.Ac., DTCM
Equilibrium is a dynamic state of harmony and balance. In the fast paced, high stress environment of North America in the twenty first century, there are many factors that cause disharmony and imbalance. Dis-equilibrium is any mind/body disharmony that eventually leads to disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM, has been in continuous use for over three thousand years by the worlds largest population. The main concepts of TCM are that your mind and body are an integral and holistic system and that disease is the natural by product of Dis-equilibrium within that system.
The factors that cause imbalances and disease can be internal or external in origin. The internal factors usually involve inappropriate diet and an inability to manage stress. These factors result in a weakened immune response and disease inevitably occurs. The external origins of disease are the various viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that prey on a weakened immune system. The most significant external cause of disease in North America is the polluted and stressful urban environment that most of us inhabit.
Another concept that is fundamental to TCM is the meridian system. The bioenergy of your body, called Qi (chee), flows through a network of pathways called the meridian system. This systematic flow of energy is similar to the flow of blood through the vascular system. The main meridians, of which there are twelve, flow from the chest to the hands, from the hands to the head, from the head to the feet and from the feet to the chest. Then the cycle starts again, along slightly different trajectories, from the chest to the hands, et cetera.
The main meridians have branches called collaterals that serve to carry energy from the main pathways on the trunk, limbs and head to other areas of your body. Like the vascular system, the collaterals continue to branch into ever smaller segments so that eventually every cell of your body is nourished with the bio-energy of Qi.
As long as the meridians are full of Qi energy and their flow is unobstructed, you will remain in good health. If the meridians become deficient of Qi or the flow is blocked, imbalance and disease soon follow. In following issues, we will explore how TCM helps keep your body balanced and how you can take a more active part in keeping yourself in a state of optimum health.