Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a different type of language to describe its medical theory. Chinese medical terminology was developed in ancient times based on a holistic view of the body working in harmony with the cycles and seasons as observed in nature. It is often very poetic and looks at the relationship or web–like connection between all of the working parts of the body.



Yin and yang are dual forces in the universe that explain constant changes seen in nature, and within the human body. Nature appears to group everything into pairs of opposites. Each gives meaning and balance to the other:

  • male and female
  • day and night
  • hot and cold
  • back and front
  • dry and damp

When the patterns of yin and yang within the body go out of balance, the result is disharmony or disease. A rebalancing of yin and yang promotes harmony and health.


TCM is based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital life-force or energy contained in all life forms and life processes seen in all of nature. Qi is the source of movement and growth. It directs all of the systems in the body. It warms and protects the body from outside invasions. It transforms food into usable substances. Qi is used to describe the functions of any organ, such as Liver qi, Lung qi, etc.


Meridians are a system of channels or pathways through which the body's energy flows. Each meridian is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ. Disease is considered to arise due to an imbalance of energy in the meridians and their associated physiological systems.

Most of the acupuncture points are located along these meridians, and will have a specific effect on the body's energy . Modern science has been able to measure the electrical charge at these points, thus corroborrating the locations of the meridians mapped by the ancients.



The 5 Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

They describe dynamic interactions seen in nature throughout the changing seasons. Chinese medicine can also use the 5 element language to describe interconnected relationships between the internal energetic systems in the body, and to analyze health problems.

For example, the liver is associated with the wood element and the spring season. What happens in nature in the springtime? The weather is starting to warm and the plants are pushing upward out of the soil. Trees are leafing out, and there is a lot of birth and new life in the animal kingdom. Energy levels are rising . There is an explosion of newfound energy released in new growth. This describes the Wood element. The spring is the time of increasing Yang (warm, upward, outward, rapid). These same words can be used accurately to describe how the energy moves internally.