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TCM - history, diagnostics and therapeutics

The History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Just as thinking in terms of doshas, ​​which should be in balance, is unfamiliar to us in the West in Ayurveda, this also applies to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in which a disruption in energy flows is understood to be the cause of diseases . And when considering the balance or imbalance of the energy flows, not only the organism itself, but also its social environment up to the entire cosmos is explicitly included. The life energy "Qi" plays a central role in TCM and has several functions: It protects, nourishes, warms, transports, controls and transforms. The Qi is kept in flow by the two life poles Yin and Yang: the white Yang stands for hard, hot, light, male and active, while the black Yin is associated with the characteristics dark, soft, cold, female, passive and calm. When the yin and yang of life are in balance, we feel healthy. On the other hand, if there is disharmony between these two poles of life, this results in a reduction of Qi.

An old Chinese proverb says "Pain is Qi's cry for free flow".

People are healthy when Qi can flow unhindered. If the flow of energy is disturbed, for example by environmental influences such as cold, heat, drafts, poor nutrition, mental stress or overexertion, health problems can arise.

What is Qi in TCM, which flows through the meridians as life energy, is the biological digestive fire "Agni" in Ayurveda. When Agni is extinguished, man dies. If the Agni is strong, in Ayurveda this is synonymous with energy, joie de vivre, strong charisma, clear thinking, healthy body heat and digestion.

In TCM there are no organs, but the various physical and psychological symptoms are associated with organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys, bladder or large intestine and are described as functional circuits (there are a total of 12 of these functional circuits), e.g. the colon or liver circulation. In turn, points, pathways (“meridians”) and body regions are assigned to these functional circuits. These imaginary channels, which are called meridians in TCM, have their counterpart in Ayurveda in the so-called "Nadis", which are assumed to have connections to organs and the psyche.

Contrary to what is often assumed, the meridians do not correspond to the nerve cords according to our Western understanding of the body, but they describe channels in which the Qi flows.
Connections are made via imaginary channels, which are called meridians in TCM and nadis in Ayurveda postulated on organs and the psyche. The expression "Marma", which translated from Sanskrit means "energy point" or "energy field", is used particularly in Ayurveda, in Kundalini Yoga they are called "chakras".

TCM - diagnostics

The two central diagnostic tools in TCM are the pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnostics.
Here too there is a great deal of agreement with Ayurveda, even if there are some clear differences in the execution of these two diagnostic tools.

Pulse diagnostics are primarily used to find out whether the yin or the yan is dominant. The index, middle and ring fingers are alternately measured on both sides of the thumb-side artery just above the wrist. The frequency, rhythm, shape of the pulse wave and the flow between the fingers are felt. In total, 28 different pulse qualities are distinguished in TCM.

The tongue diagnosis ("She-Zhen") is of particular importance in TCM, as it is seen as a connection between the inside of the body and the outside world.According to this logic, the tongue can be used to tell whether and if so what is wrong inside the body. The various organs are connected to specific areas of the tongue: at the tip of the tongue are, for example, the heart and lungs, in the middle are the spleen and stomach, and at the back are the kidneys, intestines and bladder. On the left and right are the gallbladder and liver.

The shape, colour, moisture, cracks and the type and color of the coating on the tongue provide information about potential diseases. The tongue coating, which is made up of bacteria, mucus, and food debris, should normally be a thin, white layer. If the tongue coating is thick and yellow, then the disease is more advanced.

TCM - therapeutics

Since, according to TCM, illness is the result of an energetic imbalance - a dysfunction of the meridians - the therapy starts with restoring the balance accordingly.

Since there are no organs or comparable self-contained tissue formations in TCM, but only connected functional circuits in which the Qi flows, treatment on the knee, for example, can affect the stomach, therapy on the little finger can affect the heart etc.
Our Western medicine is also familiar with such effects: for example, it is known from internal medicine that a disease of the gallbladder can also cause pain in the right shoulder blade.

TCM includes five different therapy methods: nutrition, herbal medicine/medicines, massage (Tuina), meditative forms of movement such as Qigong and Tai Chi, and acupuncture.
TCM is not just a therapy method, but many of the above-mentioned components such as e.g. nutrition or meditative forms of exercise are of a preventive nature.


Acupuncture is the most well-known pillar of the above TCM forms of therapy, although it does not play a central role in China. But because it is the form of therapy whose complexity can be most easily reduced to our Western understanding, it has now become firmly established in our country and is now also used by many conventional physicians, mostly alongside therapy.

In acupuncture, the disturbance in the flow of Qi is eliminated by activating so-called “trigger points” in the body with acupuncture needles. This is done with acupressure using finger pressure. TCM describes over 700 such trigger points. Here, too, there is a great similarity to Ayurveda, where these trigger points are called "marma points" and play an important role, especially in massages.

It is assumed that acupuncture was already fully developed in 200 BC. The first acupuncture needles were pieces of metal coated with verdigris. A round side was used to press and massage the skin's surface at different points. The pointed end was used for piercing under the skin. The points/body paths that were described at that time largely correspond to the meridians known today.

According to our Western understanding, the undisputed positive influence of acupuncture in many diseases is not explained by the flow of Qi, but by the increased release of pain-relieving endorphins, neurotransmitters and tissue hormones that promote relaxation.

Medicinal plants, especially medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal plants play an important role in TCM, which are tailored to the individual constitution of the patient in complex recipes with numerous active ingredients and are often administered as tea.Similar to Ayurveda, every medicine in TCM has certain properties, which are made up of the flavors (sweet, sour, salty, hot, bitter, etc.), the meridian on which it acts, and the temperature

The medicinal mushrooms, which have been used in TCM for thousands of years, are of particular importance among medicinal plants. The oldest official list of medicinal substances from the 29th century BC contains several types of mushrooms that were used for therapeutic purposes even then. Reishi in particular was revered for its diverse therapeutic uses.

In 2013, the two authors Wu Xingliang and Mao Xiolan published the medicinal mushrooms of China with 835 types of medicinal mushrooms, more than 500 with antitumor effects. They refer to over 2400 scientific articles. Unfortunately, this work is still only available in Chinese.
An excellent overview of the relevant medicinal mushrooms with many explanations and studies can be found at

Qigong and Tai Qi

These are meditative movement techniques that consciously combine movement, breathing and mind and are intended to solve Qi disturbances. In Ayurveda, these techniques have their counterparts in yoga and meditation.

Massages (Tuina)

As in Ayurveda, massages also play a major role in TCM - even if they are significantly less "oily" - and also serve to dissolve energy blockages.


Here too there is a great parallel to Ayurveda - because both teachings understand food as medicine. In detail, however, differences become clear: while in Ayurveda the type-appropriate food is decisive in terms of balancing the doshas, ​​in TCM everything revolves around energy flows. TCM assumes that food can have energetic healing effects. Some foods have a cooling effect (e.g. yoghurt), some have a heating effect (e.g. chili); some foods reduce, some increase qi.

Certain tastes affect certain organs: acidic foods, for example, stimulate the liver, bitter foods stimulate the heart. Spicy foods stimulate the lungs, salty stimulate the kidneys, and sweet stimulate the pancreas and spleen.

Legal consumer information

German and European case law wants to protect consumers from supposedly misleading claims. The statements made here refer to the original Ayurvedic and TCM texts. This knowledge, which has been handed down for thousands of years, is based on experiences that are passed on from generation to generation. It should not be claimed that the products described here have any effect in the sense of western medicine. All products are dietary supplements; they are not medicines and have no medicinal effect. If you are ill and require medical attention, please contact your doctor or pharmacist.


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