Introduction to TCM

Basics of TCM

  • Yin-Yang | Five Elements

Zang-Fu Theories

  • Zang Organs | Fu Organs

Classification of Antineoplastic Herbal Medicines

Characteristics of Herbal Medicines


  • By Auscultation & Olfaction
  • By Inspection


Theories of Channels (Meridians) and Collaterals

Reference: A Modern View of the Immune System

Differentiation of Syndromes

  • 8 Principles
  • 6 Channels 4 Stages
  • Syndromes of Zang-Fu Organs


  • Exogenous | Pestilential
  • Pathogenic Factors
  • Emotional

Materia Medica

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Diagnosis Methods in TCM

The human body is an organic entity, so local pathological changes may affect the whole body. Moreover, the pathological changes of the internal organs may reflect on the body surface.

Diagnostic methods in traditional Chinese medicine include four basic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiry and palpation. The case history, symptoms, and signs gained through those four diagnostic methods are analyzed and generalized to find the causes, nature, and interrelations of the disease, and to provide evidence for the further differentiation of syndromes. The four diagnostic methods are therefore indispensable and important steps in the differentiation and treatment of syndromes.

More about Inspection and Auscultation and Olfaction.

Therapeutic Principles

Therapeutic principles are the basis for guiding clinical practice. They include biao (branch or surface symptoms) and ben (root or root cause), that is, the principle of treating a disease by analyzing both its root cause and symptoms. Thus, factors such as climatic and seasonal conditions, geographic localities, and the patient's personal conditions must be considered in treatment, along with strengthening the zheng qi (the patient's body resistance or anti-pathogenic factors) and dispelling the xie qi (pathogenic factors).

1. The Principle of Biao and Ben

Biao and ben are contrasting concepts used to indicate the primary and secondary relationships of contradictory sides in various kinds of diseases and syndromes. For example, body resistance (or anti-pathogenic factors) are considered ben (root) while pathogenic factors are biao (branch); etiology is ben, symptoms is biao; primary disease in ben, secondary disease is biao; pathological changes of internal organs are ben, body surface is biao, etc.

The principle of biao and ben is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the symptoms at the acute stage and to treat the root of disease at the chronic stage. If biao and ben have the same severity, treatment should then be applies to both ben (root cause) and biao (symptoms).

2. Strengthening the Zheng Qi and Dispelling Xie Qi

Zheng qi is the ability of body resistance against disease. Xie qi are the pathogenic factors. Strengthening the zheng qi and dispelling xie qi are two differing therapeutic principles. Generally, strengthening the zheng qi is used where body resistance is weak and pathogenic factors are not strong; dispelling xie qi is applied to cases which have excessive pathogenic factors, and also an unweakened body resistance. First, strengthening zheng qi and then dispelling xie qi is used in cases where the zheng qi and xie qi are not weakened. The simultaneous strengthening of zheng qi and dispelling of xie qi is applied in cases of weak body resistance where pathogenic factors are in excess. When this principle is employed, one must differentiate between what is primary and what is secondary. In strengthening zheng qi, allow for unforeseen pathogenic factors, and when dispelling pathogenic factors, do not influence the body resistance. It is necessary to make the principles of "strengthening body resistance" and "dispelling pathogenic factors" complement each other.

3. Principle of Treatment Based on Climatic and Seasonal Conditions, Geographic Localities, and Patient's Personal Conditions

Disease is the outcome of the struggle between body resistance and pathogenic factors. Therefore, in the treatment of a disease certain factors and conditions should be considered, that is, time (seasonal and climatic conditions), place (geographical location and environment), and personal characteristics (living customs, age, sex, and body constitution). In the clinical application of medicinal herbs these factors are also very important. This is an important therapeutic principle guiding clinical practice in traditional Chinese medicine. Examples follow:

In summer, the surface pores on the body are open or loose, while in winter they are closed and tight. If the body is affected by the same exogenous pathogenic wind and cold both in summer and winter then pungent drugs having a warming property of relieving exterior syndromes should not be administrated in summer, but should be used in large dosage in winter. Because summer is humid, the pathogenic factors which cause diseases in this season always mix with damp. Therefore, medicinal herbs used for summer diseases should be combines with herbs having properties of dissolving or removing damp.

The weather in mountainous regions and on plateaus is dry and cold, medicinal herbs having cold, cool, bitter, or dry properties should not be prescribed in large doses. White the climate in low-lying country is warm and humid, so drugs having cool and damp dissolving properties can also be used in large dosages.

Children have a body constitution of young and tender yang, for which qi and blood are not yet abundant, and a flourishing vitality. The vitality of aged people, however, is declining and qi and blood are insufficient. Therefore both children and elderly patients should not be prescribed drugs having strong properties, nor be given large dosages.

Obese patients are liable to have diseases caused by internal pathogenic damp, so drugs with cool, moist properties must not be given. Most this patients are suffering from illness due to pathogenic fire, thus medicinal herbs with warm dry properties are not suitable.

The same disease, but with different sexes, different physiological characteristics, and different body constitutions should be treated accordingly.

Chinese medical theory, as a product of traditional Chinese culture, reflects an extraordinary sensitivity toward Nature. Throughout the world, traditional Chinese medicine is praised for its holistic attitude in the understanding and curing of disease. With a 2,000-year written tradition, Chinese medical culture has accumulated an impressive body of theoretical and practical experience.

Traditional Chinese Medicine pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

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With over 3000 years of experience, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has remain one of the many fascinating areas in ancient Chinese culture. First known to be documented in the Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine, TCM is believed to have been practised in as early as 475 to 221 B.C. The field of working knowledge of TCM stretches from anything related to general healthcare practice to the philosophy of the mind, the logic of life, religion, and even to as far as cosmology and astronumerology. This is why in order to thoroughly understand the concepts behind TCM, one must be comprehensive in learning and embracing the Chinese culture as a whole.

Just as Douglas Hoff put it when he explained about accupuncture, "The systems of TCM uses the concepts of elements and meridians and are completely immersed in the Asian cosmology which takes shape through the religions." The meridian-brain mechanism, the fundamental working concept of acupuncture, in which the pain block from the message that the needle or burning cone of herbs gives to the point of stimulus, was only found centuries later by the West through science and technology.


Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA Thank you for visiting this TCM and acupuncture information website. If you have previously been to this website, you might have noticed that some of the pages on ancient historical ideas and holistic thinkings related to Chinese metaphysics are temporarily taken offline. This is because I will be revamping the whole website and be moving those information into a new \"Ancient Chinese Culture\" section so as to reflect a more current perspective on the interpretation of some of the fundamental concepts as well as to include some of the latest information in the area. But if you have just found this website for the very first time, I welcome you again and wish you could find what you require and, hopefully, you could also be benefitted from reading the articles I published on this website.

Please be patient and do come and check out this website frequently as it's being revamped.

Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

March 28, 2020.


This website is published, edited and designed by Raymond Cheng, and reflects only and only his personal views and opinions in his individual capacity. The information available at this website is not intended directly or by implication to either diagnose or treat any medical, emotional, or psychological condition or disorder. It is also not intended to create a physician-patient relationship between you and I or between you and Wyith Institute™ and The Office of Dr Raymond K K Cheng. The information here is not a substitute for advice and treatment provided by your physician or by another healthcare professional. It is always recommended that consultation with local healthcare providers be obtained for any of your specific health or medical concerns. Furthermore, any products that can be purchased (yet you can see I don't have much to sell here) through advertisers' banners or through links to other websites are not either explicitly or implicitly given any warranty or endorsement by me, my colleagues, Wyith Institute™ or any of its associated businesses.