Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on a pre-scientific paradigm of medicine that developed over several thousand years and involves concepts
that have no counterpart within contemporary medicine. In TCM, the body is treated as a whole that is comprised of several "systems of function" known as the zang-fu (
). These systems are named after specific organs, though the systems and organs are not directly associated. The zang systems are associated with the solid, yin organs such as the liver while the fu systems are associated with the hollow yang organs such as the intestines.
Health is explained as a state of balance between the yin and yang, with disease ascribed to either of these forces being unbalanced, blocked or stagnant. The yang force is the immaterial qi, a concept that is roughly translated as "vital energy". The yin counterpart is Blood, which is linked to but not identical with physical blood, and capitalized to distinguish the two. TCM uses a variety of interventions, including pressure, heat and acupuncture applied to the body's acupuncture points.
The acupuncturist decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient in order to make a diagnosis according to the tradition which he or she utilizes. In TCM, there are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation.
Classically, in clinical practice, acupuncture treatment is typically highly individualized and based on philosophical constructs as well as subjective and intuitive impressions, and not on controlled scientific research.