The Value of TCM
The value of TCM is judged by its potentialities as well as its present applications, and the evaluating work should be based more on the TCM theory-based method than merely on scientific-based standard. TCM originated from the ancient times and collected various kinds of techniques under the directing of its theory. TCM theory has the character of holism, and is told mainly by concepts related to Chinese philosophy and culture. Those classic canons of Chinese culture, such as The Book of Changes and Laozi or Taodejing, have their deep relationships with NeiJing that lays a foundation of TCM theory. All these books acknowledge of that everything in the world is movable and changeable, so do the health and disease of a man. Besides of that, Taodejing points out that both the man and nature are originated and deep-rooted from Tao, and our actual world cannot keep away from Tao or the natural law. TCM theory does its best to make use of the natural law, and finds out that the body of a man is in unity with his mind and should not be apart from each other anytime and anywhere. To do like this, the mind must play its active role in dominating the body, and the holistic medical pattern of TCM declares the original meaning of wholeness that nature, society and man are joined together by something invisible.
TCM theory has never changed its holistic character in comparison with modern Western medicine, and the knowledge about this character is the core value TCM contributes to our modern times.
TCM theory emphasizes on the self-healing power of man for curing diseases and keeping fitness, and many of its therapies are employed for enhancing this power. Without it, TCM cannot do anything for health promoting and disease curing, and the mechanism of TCM would remain a mystery to us. The cultivation of mind or spirit is the basis of those methods for flourishing self-healing power, and thus TCM theory has the character similar to that of religions that ask people depend on themselves. Being independent, TCM theory thinks of that everyone has his own potentialities for living a good life, and “health for one” is possible if everyone could be taught the knowledge about the self-healing power. This is a different idea from what WHO has proposed, and serious consideration must be taken of it because we have already lived in a knowledge-based society. The non-medication therapies and medication therapies of TCM are just the knowledge serving for the individual, and both of them are procedure-based therapies that can be manipulated by doctors and patients. In fact, the medication therapies of TCM are developed from the non-medication therapies in the TCM history of development and only the complementary of the latter, and the concerned herbals, minerals and animal parts have their properties judged by TCM theory. Seeking for the active ingredients cannot be used to replace the usage of TCM theory-based knowledge, and the present scientific-based standards are not sufficient for evaluating the values of TCM medication therapies. The reason is that TCM theory thinks of materials transformable in a time related way and thus inseparable by the prevailing research methods. Similarly, TCM theory lays the preventive work in advance, and the curing must be based on it, otherwise, TCM doctor will be looked down upon even though he is good at the curing work. TCM theory encourages doctors considering results in a holistic way, and thus the cost may be lowered and the health level may be raised at the same time. This is different from the allopathic medicine.
After the general introduction of TCM theory and therapies, we find out that mastering its knowledge and using it actively in practical work is the most convenient and valuable way to preserve and develop TCM, and without the usage being directed by TCM theory, its characters such as being simple, convenient, cheap and effective will disappear because of the misuse of TCM therapies and products. The medication therapies of TCM have the effect of avoiding those so-called side effects theoretically, and thus have the meaning of deconstructing the industry of chemical drugs. To change TCM into the modern form will not bring about surely the progress, and making progress of TCM must follow the way what TCM theory asks for. Therefore, more effective therapies for preventing and curing can be applied to our modern society if TCM theory can play its directing role in the process of application. These therapies include Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, taiji, qigong and other mind-cultivating methods.
Apart from the infectious diseases, certain chronic diseases, senile diseases and psychosomatic disorders can also be cured by TCM. The most encouraging fact is that many new therapies can be invented according to TCM theory, and our modern world would not be embarrassed by those deadly diseases anymore.
Now in China, TCM accounts for around 40% of all health care delivered. Many other developing countries have learned from China the experiences of harmonizing traditional medicine and modern medicine in achieving the goal of primary health care, and TCM theory and therapies have been spread around the world. Among the therapies, acupuncture is the typical one, and Taiji is another. They are easy to learn but hard to perform and understand perfectly. The key problem is that TCM theory has not been studied and understood systematically. In some developed countries, TCM has been accepted widely as CAM and the non-medication therapies are classified as procedure-based therapies, but the medication therapies of TCM are unfortunately treated as scientific-based therapies. This classification results in many problems such as “safety, efficacy, quality, availability, preservation and further development of this type of health care”, and the methodology for evaluating work has kept people in developed countries from enjoying the profits of TCM. If we cannot develop a compromising method to solve this trouble in the future, both China and those developed countries would feel sorry about the applications of TCM.
TCM is old enough but is not something out of date, and it still has the power of getting rid of troubles of our modern society. How to employ its functions correctly and avoid disorders? China has learned a lesson from integrating TCM with modern Western medicine that TCM is uniquely both in theory and methodology, and the two kinds of medicine can be combined technically, but it is quite difficult to restate the two medical philosophies in terms of one another. So we must abandon the habits mixing them simply together. As a holistic medicine, TCM has its own strengths in solving those problems the allopathic medicine cannot solve, and this indicates not only the change of the knowledge, but also the change of the methodology and the philosophy. We should judge the value of TCM by its holistic philosophy and methodology and should not merely by its language. The classic Chinese is not the decisive factor preventing TCM from going forward, and the scientific language feels shy for expressing TCM theory explicitly. People may easily get excited when they think of the Wholeness, but the cultural diversity, conflict and pluralism need them keeping calm, peaceful and reasonable when they hope to live together forever.