What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been and continues to be an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries. It has cemented itself in people’s long struggle against diseases, and made enormous contributions to healthcare and prosperity. It enjoys a high reputation, not only because of its unique Oriental characteristics and remarkable therapeutic effects, but also because of an increasing role in promoting health and well-being, and longevity. 

The origins can be traced back to remote antiquity in China with the formation and usage of  the Yin-Yang theory, Qi and the Five Elements. These distinctive theories were the framework used in ancient China to understand and explain natural phenomena.

  • Qi possesses extraordinary energy and is the source of all things; characterized by ceaseless motion and change. 
  • Yin-Yang was a worldview and methodology in ancient China. It was a rational system to understand and explain nature, through opposites: ex. in time, Yang is daytime and Yin is night. Yin-Yang is pervasive in meaning it is not restricted to any specific thing, but is present in every thing and every phenomenon in the universe. 
  • The Five Elements concerns the movement and changes of the five basic matters of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. This theory came to life when the ancients used the properties and characteristics of the five mentioned substances to represent those of all material things in the universe. Also to use the interrelationship between them to interpret and describe the evolution and complex interrelationship of all material things.

It is said that to learn and practice Chinese Medicine without understanding the philosophical basis is akin to using antibiotics without understanding physiology, pathology or pharmacology. And in doing so will only produce erratic results.  

What is Traditional Thai Medicine?

In Thailand, the Thai healing Arts are officially defined as Thai Traditional Medicine. By Thai law TTM is defined as:

“the medical processes dealing with examination, diagnosis, therapy, treatment, or prevention of diseases, or promotion and rehabilitation of the health of humans or animals, Midwifery, Thai Massage, as well as the preparation, production of Thai traditional medicines and making of devices and instruments for medical purposes.”

TTM is considered a holistic medicinal system where treatments emphasize the balancing of body elements and various other factors, such as seasons, where one lives, and other external elements. It is not considered a major traditional medicine in the world, but it does have a lot of comparability to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It dates back to the Sukothai period from 1238 to 1377. It originated in Thailand but has many different influences from other cultures and practices from around the world. 

I won’t dive into TTM much for Martial Qigong as the theories differ from TCM and will cause confusion, but I’ve added it because I will be utilizing one of the branches of TTM with training, Thai Yoga. (Note: Thai Massage and Thai Herbal medicine are additional branches).