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Is there a difference between TCM and Classical Chinese Medicine?

November 10, 2014

Many people find this very confusing.  To illustrate the differences,  I have included the following from the Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine: 

 

"Classical Chinese Medicine is based on the ancient Daoist medical texts of China (the Ling Shu, Su Wen, Nan Jing, Zhenjiu Dajing, Maijing, and Shang Han Lun) many of which were written as early as 3,000 years ago. 

 

This medicine was not "invented" by the ancient Daoists, it was discovered. It is about the undistorted way the universe already works. Unfortunately, like so many works of art handed down through the generations, Chinese medicine has undergone many personal interpretations, mistranslations, assumptions, and fragmentations, resulting in a wide array of different "schools of thought" of energetic medicine. 

 

Much of the classical information has been lost or discarded over the millennia, as China has undergone many cultural and political upheavals. Some examples of this are the rise of Confucianism in the 11th century BCE, where the old Daoist ideas and medical texts were banned, and even destroyed, and again in the 19th century with the "Cultural Revolution" and introduction of Western medicine in China, when the Chinese were actually embarrassed by the “primitive” medical techniques they were using and attempted to “Westernize” Chinese medicine.  

 

What is taught in mainland China today, and therefore in many schools in the west, is Chinese medicine as it has evolved in China throughout these periods of immense change. Much of the original information on the art of acupuncture has been lost to modern China, which is one reason why herbal training has become so prevalent there."

 

Therefore most Chinese medicine schools teach something called Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. TCM by comparison has lost the true nature and ancient knowledge of Chinese medicine in favor of a Westernized version of it that uses point protocols for western conditions instead of individualizing treatments based on underlying energetics.

 

Some also feel that TCM is moving steadily away from learning the theories presented in the Classical literature in favor of learning the medicine based on diseases, as they do in the West. (for example, a patient has a Western Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, therefore differentiate what type of UC this is in Chinese Medicine and give the point prescription).

 

Classical Chinese Medicine, or CCM, however, strives to retain and use the wisdom of the Classical literature and to preserve the knowledge that has been refined over thousands of years. CCM rejects the modernization/westernization of Chinese medicine in favor of the more ancient and, some would say, effective classical way of understanding and applying Chinese medical theory.

 

Heiner Fruehauf has written a great article about the changes in Chinese Medicine and distinctions between Classical CM vs TCM.  Here is a list he comprised.  

For the complete article please visit: http://www.classicalchinesemedicine.org/2009/04/chinese-medicine-in-crisis-tcm/

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Based on naturalist philosophy (Daoism)

 

"TCM"

Based on pragmatist philosophy (Confucianism, scientific materialism, communism)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Alchemical (synthetic) approach: scientific endeavor defined as acknowledgement and exploration of the complexity and multi-dimensionality of nature and the body

 

"TCM"

Analytical approach: scientific endeavor defined as elimination of complicating factors and unpredictable occurrences

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Based on traditional parameters of Daoist science (yin/yang, wuxing, bagua, wuyun liuqi, jing-qi-shen, etc.)

Views medicine as a branch of the Daoist mother sciences (HuangLao, zhouyi, fengshui, etc.)

Source oriented: reliance on tradition

(experience)

 

"TCM"

Primarily based on parameters of modern science (virus, inflammation, blood pressure, etc.)

Views medicine as a branch of modern science

Branch oriented: reliance on progress

(experiments)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Requires broad base of knowledge due to intimate relationship to other traditional arts and sciences

 

"TCM"

Technical and highly specialised trade

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Body is treated as a microcosm that follows macrocosmic laws and is continually informed by macrocosmic influences (totality of cosmic/calendric/ seasonal patterns created by conjunctions of sun, moon, and stars)

 

"TCM"

Body is treated as an independent entity

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Based on experience of human "subject" in environment of geocentric universe

 

"TCM"

Based on "objective" heliocentric world view

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Based on dualistic cosmology of becoming (process oriented world view observing the continuous change of physical phenomena, symbolised by the changing pattern of the moon)

 

"TCM"

Impartial view of reality as continuous interplay between heaven and earth, light and shadow, "demons" (gui: lunar influences) and "spirits" (shen: solar influences), birth and death, male and female, yin and yang

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

"Sexual" world view (life is product of ceaseless intercourse between heaven and earth; human beings are principally sexual beings)

Based on cosmology of being

(concept of singular, meta-physical truth, symbolised by fixed position of the sun)

 

"TCM"

Confucian/materialist method of dividing heavenly and earthly spheres and "rectifying the names" (zheng ming: convert the binary symbols of lunar mythology into the immutable and one-sided terminology of the solar perspective, and dignify an absolute position as "right/good/ correct")

Monistic world view (human sphere is separate from heaven; human beings are principally individuals); astrology, sexuality and ecstasy taboo

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Communicates through symbols which contain and correlate multiple layers of meaning

 

"TCM"

Preserves the lunar element of complexity and "obscuring" mystery that defies exacting definition (wuwei maxim: "do not define categorically")

Communicates through words and terms which refer to narrowly defined contents

Demystifies and demythologises the traditional record by "illuminating" aspects of lunar ambivalence, and by creating "clear and simple" textbook definitions (youwei maxim: "define as firmly and precisely as possible")

 

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Views body as field

(traditional zang/xiang theory: zang/fu are primarily viewed as functional systems)

 

"TCM"

Views body as materiality

(influence of modern anatomy: zang/fu are primarily viewed as structural organs)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Body - mind - spirit medicine

 

"TCM"

Body - (mind) medicine

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Physician is intermediary to the sacred, cultivating the dual roles of the shaman (master of intuited knowledge) and the sage (master of scholarly knowledge), connecting above and below, inside and outside, energy and matter

 

"TCM"

Physician is skilled technician who rectifies imbalances between bodily humors and calibrates the structural composition of the body (eliminate viruses, etc.)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Physician aspires to the Dao of medicine, a process which requires the actualisation of his/her individual path by working to become a self-realised being (zhenren)

Major tools: qigong meditation, music, calligraphy, painting, poetry, ritual journeys

 

"TCM"

Physician is part of a legally defined profession with standardised ethical standards

Major tools: mandatory courses/tests on legal responsibility and liability issues

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Highly individualised discipleship based training

Teachers are individual "master" figures who emphasise the creation of a lineage-inspired atmosphere/culture

Transmission of "understanding"

(may include qi transmission from master to disciple)

 

"TCM"

Highly standardised institutionalised training

Teachers are assigned to standardised curriculum items, and thus in principle exchangeable

Transmission of cerebral knowledge through "words" and "terms"

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Multi-directional memorisation:

Memorisation of classical texts that are interpreted situationally according to individual circumstances

 

"TCM"

Mono-directional memorisation:

Use of standardised textbooks that prepare for testing of knowledge in multiple choice format; classics are placed in museum

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Health defined as the active process of refining body essences and cultivating vital forces: concept of "nourishing life" (maximising physiological functions)

 

"TCM"

Health defined as the absence of pathology

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Clinical diagnosis primarily based on "subjective" experience of the senses

 

"TCM"

Clinical diagnosis primarily informed by "objective" instrumental data (as provided by prior Western medicine diagnosis)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Clinical outcome primarily based on patient's subjective feeling of well-being and physician's collation of sensory information (tongue, pulse, etc.)

 

"TCM"

Clinical outcome primarily monitored through instrumental data (reduction of viral load in blood, disappearance of lump on x-ray, etc.)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Highly individualised diagnosis: emphasises bianzheng (diagnosis by symptom pattern)

 

"TCM"

Standardised diagnosis: emphasises bianbing (diagnosis by disease name)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Highly individualised treatment: favors flexible therapeutic approach which freely chooses from a wide variety of modalities, and within them, favors a flexible usage of prescription items

 

"TCM"

Standardised treatment: favors fixed modalities (herbs or acupuncture), and within them, promotes fixed herb regimens (patent medicines) and fixed point recipes

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Use of wide range of clinical modalities, including the external application of herbs to acupuncture points, umbilical therapy, qigong exercises, wai (external) qi emission, five-phase emotional therapy, alchemical dietetics, ziwu liuzhu acupuncture, etc.

 

"TCM"

Selective ratification of certain modalities that have a measurable effect on the physical body and that can be explained from the perspective of modern science, such as the internal administration of herbs and ashixie acupuncture

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

All-inclusive scope of practice (includes emergency medicine, bone fractures, serious diseases such as cancer, etc.)

 

"TCM"

Selective scope of practice (chosen areas in which modern studies have shown an advantage of TCM over Western medicine, such as chronic pain or allergies)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

All encompassing training

(may lead to clinical specialisation in a traditional field, such as external medicine, if inspired by the clinical expertise of a specific teacher)

 

"TCM"

Progressive clinical specialisation according to the model of Western medicine (acupuncture, internal medicine, external medicine, gynaecology, pediatrics, tumours, cardiovascular diseases, digestive diseases, etc.)

 

CLASSICAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Combination of Western and traditional modalities, if employed, is performed according to Chinese medicine criteria (e.g. Zhang Xichun's method of energetically classifying aspirin and integrating it as an alchemical ingredient into traditional formulas)

 

"TCM"

Combination of Western and traditional modalities is recommended in most cases; combination follows Western medicine criteria (e.g. abdominal surgery plus post-operative administration of herbs with anti-adhesive effect such as magnolia bark)

ZhiNeng QiGong Byron Bay - Bangalow Australia

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