Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

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

Accept Your Flaws

By Julie Taylor Millions of self-help books are sold in this country each year, offering advice on how to be thinner, smarter, richer, more successful... the list goes on and on. Sadly, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix ourselves in one way or another. Why do we focus on the negative instead of the positive? “Most of us have been taught that we [have to] be perfect to be good enough,” says psychotherapist Dorothy Martin-Neville, Ph.D., founder of the Institute of Healing...

Read the Accept Your Flaws 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: November 14, 2014
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.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family