Skip to content

Health & Balance

Select An Article
Font Size

Topic Overview

What is Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine is a system of medicine partly based on the idea that an energy, called qi (say "chee"), flows along pathways in the body called meridians. In this belief, if the flow of qi along these meridians is blocked or unbalanced, illness can occur. In China, doctors have practiced Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and it is gaining in popularity in many Western countries.

Causes of qi imbalance are thought to involve:

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

Ready, Set, Learn!

By Aviva Patz Ballet, piano, French lessons, soccer practice. You and your child have dozens of fun-sounding classes to choose from, but how do you know which activity to choose and when to start? And how do you know if you're pushing your kid too hard? "What's most important is simply exposing kids to a variety of activities so that they'll discover what they like and are good at," says Ellen Booth Church, a Key West, FL-based former teacher and author of Everything You Always Wanted...

Read the Ready, Set, Learn! article > >

  • External forces, such as wind, cold, or heat.
  • Internal forces, such as emotions of joy, anger, or fear.
  • Lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, too little sleep, or too much alcohol.

Another important concept in Chinese medicine is the concept of yin and yang. In this approach, all things, including the body, are composed of opposing forces called yin and yang. Health is said to depend on the balance of these forces. Chinese medicine focuses on maintaining the yin-yang balance to maintain health and prevent illness.

Chinese medicine doctors look at the balance of body, mind, and spirit to determine how to restore qi, the yin-yang balance, and good health.

What is Chinese medicine used for?

People use Chinese medicine to treat many illnesses from asthma and allergies to cancer and infertility. Chinese doctors may use several types of treatment to restore qi balance.

Chinese medicine therapies include:

  • Acupuncture, which uses thin metal needles placed along the body's meridians.
  • Acupressure, which uses the hands or fingers to apply direct pressure to points along the body's meridians.
  • Chinese herbs, combinations of herbs, roots, powders, or animal substances to help restore balance in the body.
  • Cupping, which uses warm air in glass jars to create suction placed on areas of the body to help stimulate qi.
  • Diet. Yin and yang foods can help restore the yin-yang balance in the body.
  • Massage (tui na) on specific areas of the body or along the body's meridians.
  • Moxibustion, which uses small amounts of heated plant fiber (moxa, or Chinese mugwort) on specific areas of the body.
  • Qi gong, which uses movement, breathing techniques, and meditation.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 11, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
jet plane landing at sunset
Slideshow
poinsettias
Quiz
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz