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TCM Terminology

Glossary by Your Tea

Traditional Chinese Medicine Glossary

Traditional Chinese medicine aims to restore the body's balance and harmony between the natural opposing forces of yin and yang, which can block Qi and cause disease. Traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, and massage.

Works on the same basic principle as acupuncture (see below) but the Qi is worked on by pressure and massage instead of needles.

A Chinese healing therapy intended to rebalance or unblock the flow of energy within the body. Needles are used at certain points on the body, which correspond to points on the meridians along which energy is thought to flow; see also meridians.

A condition where evacuating the bowels is infrequent or difficult. 

Persisting for a long time, a state showing no change or very slow change.

A form of treatment involving drawing the Qi and blood to the surface of the skin using a vacuum created inside a glass or bamboo cup.

In TCM dampness comes from a failure to burn off or transform moisture in the body. It is nearly always associated with a weak Spleen, often with a weak Kidney and sometimes a weak Lung – all from a Chinese Medicine perspective. In nature, dampness soaks the ground and everything that comes in contact with it, and stagnation results.

A painless swelling caused by fluid retention beneath the skin's surface.

A condition in which Qi, Blood or Fluids are imbalanced, accumulating in parts of the body.

Chinese medicine approach focuses on maximising one's fertility through balance in a TCM perspective. When a woman has difficulty conceiving, it is usually the result of some gradual, long-term changes to her body.

As in nature, heat causes expansion and in­creased activity. When out of balance, heat can lead to irritability, fever, and inflammatory conditions in the body.

That which pertains to the whole person, including physical, mind, body, and spirit, while taking social factors into consideration.

A condition where falling asleep is difficult or impossible.

The vital essence stored in the kidneys that is considered the source of life and individual development. 

In TCM, low libido and poor sexual function are often seen as an imbalance of Yin (female energies) and Yang (male energies), particularly as they relate to the Kidney organ-meridian system.

Continuous contemplation, especially on a religious or spiritual theme, to calm the mind.

Causing or producing disease.

This describes a more sticky manifestation of dampness. It often lodges in particular organs and combines easily with heat or cold. Phlegm or mucus congeals and obstructs our functioning.

(pronounced as Chi)- Qi is an invisible energy force that flows freely in a healthy person, but is weakened or blocked when a person is ill. The illness is a result of the blockage, rather than the blockage being the result of the illness. In acupuncture, the Qi is manipulated through acupuncture points. Qi must be in constant movement, and must move in the correct direction for good health.

Pronounced (Chi Kung) translates as "energy cultivation". A series of moving and static exercised designed for this function.

Shen in traditional Chinese medicine means “Spirit" or "Mind", and implies our consciousness, mental functions, mental health, vitality, and our "presence".

Stagnation is a term used in Chinese medicine when Blood and Qi are not moving freely through the channels creating blocks of energy that lead to pain and disease.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM uses different therapeutic methods, such as mind-spiritual methods, natural methods (acupuncture). These therapeutic methods are characterised by fewer side effects since they are natural healing.

Two forces in the universe, according to a Chinese theory; Yin is negative, dark, and feminine force.

Two forces in the universe, Yang is the positive, bright and masculine force.

5 Elements

The Five Elements, or Five Phases, are aspects of Qi. These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

Stomach/Spleen. When people have weak Earth Qi, they can be worriers and meddlers. They are prone to pensiveness.

Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium, Triple Warmer. When the Fire Qi is weak, a person may be lackluster or bland. They may suffer from anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.

Lungs/Large Intestines. A person with Metal Qi imbalance may be grief-stricken, steeped in sadness. They may be overly critical. They may have trouble letting go.

Kidneys, Bladder. When the Kidney Qi is weak, there can be problems with water metabolism, urination, fertility, or sexuality. This person could be anxious, fearful, and withdrawn, and in more severe cases, phobic.

Liver/ Gallbladder. When the wood Qi is weak, people can be indecisive, without strong direction in life, and stuck.