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Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Chinese System of Medicine

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is a section of Chinese traditional medicine. The majority of its therapies have been regarded as having no logical mechanism of action, and it has been categorized as "fraught with pseudoscience."

The Compendium of Materia Medica and the Huangdi Neijing is said to be the foundations of TCM. Herbal treatment, exercise (qigong), cupping therapy, acupuncture, gua sha, bonesetter (die-da), massage (tui na), and nutritional therapy are also part of the activity. TCM is commonly practised in the Sinosphere, which has a rich history. As a result, it is now practised in other countries as well. One of TCM's essential tenets is that the body's vital energy (ch'i or qi) circulates across meridians, which have branches that bind to various bodily organs and functions. Vital energy is a pseudoscientific term. TCM's body and disease concepts are based on its ancient roots and emphasise complex processes over material structure, close to Ancient Greece and Rome's humoral theory.

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History of Chinese Herbal Medicine

In the Sinosphere, which does have a long ancient Chinese medicine history, TCM is commonly used. The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon and the Treatise on Cold Harm, and also cosmological concepts like yin–yang and the five stages, are the foundations of Chinese medicine. Such precepts became standardised in the People's Republic of China beginning in the 1950s, and attempts have been made to combine them with modern notions of pathology and anatomy. The Chinese government introduced a systematised model of TCM in the 1950s.

Shang Dynasty: The Shang dynasty left traces of therapeutic practises in China. Even though Shang might not have such a distinct definition of "medicine" from all other areas. Oracular inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells relate to diseases that afflicted the Shang royal family, such as toothaches, swollen belly, eye disorders, and other ailments that Shang elites generally would relate to curses sent through their ancestors. There is no proof that the Shang aristocracy employed herbal medicines at this time. "Documentation of Chinese materia medica dates back to about 1,100 BCE, when only hundreds of drugs had first been identified," according to a 2006 overview. The number of medications recorded had risen to nearly 1,900 by the end of the 16th century. And by the turn of the century, CMM had amassed a total of 12,800 drugs in its database."

Han dynasty: The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon (Huangdi Nei Jing), the ancient research of Chinese medical theory, has been done on the basis of shorter texts from various medical lineages during the Han dynasty from around the 1st century BCE. It is expressed in the form of conversations between the legendary Yellow Emperor and his ministers, and it explains the relationship between humans, their world, and the universe, as well as the nature of the body, human vitality and pathology, disease symptoms, as well as how to render diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in view of each of these factors.

Ancient Chinese Treatment in Women

Pregnancy: Pregnancy has been recognised in Western medicine since the publication of the Hippocratic Corpus in the gynaecological treatises On the Diseases of Women, On the Nature of the Woman, Generation, On the Nature of the Child, On Fistulae, On Sterile Women, and On Hemorrhoids, between the mid-fifth and mid-fourth centuries BCE. The word ‘Caesarean section’ comes from an ancient Roman (from Caesar) rule that stated that if a pregnant lady expired, her body could not be buried until the unborn child was expelled. However, it was prohibited for ancient Roman doctors to treat this operation on living women.

Postpartum: If both the baby and the mother made it through the pregnancy, childbirth would have been the next step. Towels to collect the blood, a tub for the placenta, a maternity sash to protect the uterus, and an infant swaddling wrap were among the birthing supplies. The child was born, washed, and swaddled with all of these tools; nevertheless, the doctor right away focused on the mother to replenish her qi (i.e. vital energy which is believed to circulate the body in currents). 

Dr Cheng emphasises the Four Diagnostic Methods for dealing with postpartum problems in his writings, and advises all physicians to "not ignore any [of the four methods]." Since it was believed that giving birth depleted a woman's blood and qi, the most popular postpartum remedies were diet (usually garlic and ginseng), medication, and rest. This was accompanied by a month-by-month check-in with the doctor, a procedure known as zuo yuezi.

Infertility: Infertility was still poorly understood in TCM, but it had significant social and cultural consequences.

Sun Simiao, a 7th-century scholar, was among the most cited scholars when it comes to female health. "Anyone who has prescriptions for women's distinctiveness uses their disparities of childbirth, pregnancy, and bursting accidents as their basis," he is quoted as saying. Sun's findings regarding female reproductive roles are still relevant in today's world, and it is an important feature of women's health. The tendency to put a greater focus on reproductive functions than on a woman's overall health suggests that the primary role of fu ke is to make babies.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Although plant elements seem to be the most widely employed products in TCM, other, non-botanic substances are often used, including human, animal, and mineral items. As a result, the word "medicinal" (rather than "herb") can be used, despite the fact that no empirical evidence exists that either of these compounds possess medicinal properties.

Raw Materials:

In China, approximately 13,000 compounds have been used, with over 100,000 TCM recipes documented in ancient literature. Plant extracts and elements are perhaps the most commonly used elements. There were 517 drugs mentioned in the 1941 Handbook of Traditional Drugs, 45 of which have been animal parts and 30 minerals.

Animal Substances:

Cow gallstones, leeches, hornet nests, and scorpions are only a few of the unusual animal parts included. Animal parts comprise antelope or buffalo horn, dog testicles, deer antlers, and penis bone, and snake bile, among others.

While some TCM textbooks often recommend animal-tissue preparations, there seems to be little evidence to support the alleged clinical efficacy of several TCM animal products.

Human Body Parts: 

The classic Materia medica (Bencao Gangmu) defines (and criticises) the use of 35 human body parts and excreta in medicines, namely faeces, bones, fingernails, skin, earwax, dandruff, impurities on the teeth, saliva, urine, and organs, but the majority are not currently in use.

The human placenta is often used as an element in some traditional Chinese medicines, such as the treatment of impotence, infertility, as well as other disorders with dried human placenta, classified as "Zieche." The ingestion of the human placenta poses a risk of infection.

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FAQs on Traditional Chinese Medicine

1. Is it True That Chinese Medicine Has Side Effects?

Ans. Few TCM herbs, such as bitter almond and apricot kernels, produce poisonous compounds that, if not used properly, might cause damage. Here are some pointers on how to use TCM in a secure manner. Body bruising, swelling, yellowish skin, diarrhoea, and other side effects should be avoided.

2. Can Chinese Herbs Damage Your Liver?

Ans. Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been linked to a growing number of adverse reactions. Clinical cases and laboratory evidence from recent years has shown that the CHMs and their formulations can cause different degrees of liver damage.

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