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Brief Introduction to Chinese medicine

According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, every herb has its own particular nature
corresponding with the four qi, five flavors and meridian entry.
The four qi refer to four basic properties of Chinese herbs: cold, hot, warmth, and  coolness.
The five flavors refer to five tastes of Chinese herbs namely sourness, bitterness, sweetness, pungency
and saltiness. The five flavors also represent the basic actions of Chinese herbs.


Constrict or consolidate.


Clear away heat;
purge bowels; descend qi.


Toning, improving, mitigating and harmonizing.


Disperse and circulate qi; promote blood circulation.


Soften firm masses and fibrous adhesions.


Similar function
as sour.


Drain urine.

Meridian entry is the orientation of the action of Chinese herbs according to
the meridian/channel on which the therapeutic action is manifested.

Introduction to Traditional
Chinese Medicine

Holism and syndrome differentiation and treatment are the basic concepts in traditional Chinese medicine. Holism is regarding the human body as an organic whole, which is integrated with the external environment. Syndrome differentiation and treatment is the diagnosis of the pattern/syndrome, through comprehensive analysis of symptoms and signs, which has implications for determining the cause, nature and location of the illness and the patient’s physical condition, and their treatment. The theories of Yin, Yang and Five Phases are the philosophical theories of medical practice in traditional Chinese medicine.
Yin and Yang originally refer to the shady and sunny sides of a mountain. It has developed into a concept to describe two opposite and interrelated phenomena found in all matter in nature. For examples,  up and down, active and calm, day and night, light and dark, inside and outside, fire and water, male and female, etc. By observing nature, the ancient Chinese found the law that governs the transformation and evolution of nature.

They believed that the universe consists of five transformative phases: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Accroding to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, human body is composed of microscopic substances: Qi, Blood and Body Fluid. Qi(氣) is the basic element that constitutes the cosmos and, through its movements, changes and transformations, produces everything in the world, including the human body and life activities. In the field of medicine, qi refers to the refined nutritive substance that flows within the human body as well as to its functional activities. Blood(血) is the red fluid circulating through the blood vessels, and nourishing and moistening the whole body. According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, a state of harmony between yin and yang, body and environment keeps us healthy. When this harmony is disrupted, it leads to a state of sickness or disease. The causes of disease can be external, internal and neither external nor internal. The external causes include wind, cold, summer-heat, dampness, dryness, fire ( heat).


Triple energizers/triple burners (三焦)

A collective term for the three portions of the body cavity, through which the visceral qi is transformed.

Upper energizer/upper burner (上焦)

The chest cavity, i.e., the portion above the diaphragm housing the heart and

Middle energizer/middle burner (中焦)

The upper abdominal cavity, i.e., the portion between the diaphragm and the umbilicus housing the spleen, stomach, liver and gallbladder.

Wind (風)

A pathogenic factor characterized by its rapid movement, swift changes, and ascending and opening actions.

Lower energizer/lower burner (下焦)

The lower abdominal cavity, i.e., the portion below the umbilicus housing the kidney, bladder, small and large

Cold (寒)

A pathogenic factor characterized by the damage to yang qi, deceleration of activity, congealing and contracting actions.


A pathogenic factor, occurring only in summer, characterized by hotness and evaporation.


A pathogenic factor characterized by its impediment to qi movement and its turbidity, heaviness, stickiness and downward flowing properties.


A pathogenic factor characterized by dryness and is apt to injure the lung and consume fluid.


A pathogenic factor characterized by intense heat that is apt to injure fluid, consume qi, engender wind, induce bleeding, and disturb the mental activities.


A pathogenic factor that causes heat pattern/syndrome.


A combined pathogen of external wind and heat.


A combined pathogen of external wind and cold.


Any virulent pathogen that causes a fulminating disease


A combined pathogen of dampness and heat.


(1) pathologic secretions of the diseased respiratory tract, which is known as sputum; (2) the viscous turbid pathological product that can accumulate in the body, causing a variety of diseases.

Retained fluid/ retained water (飲/水飲)

The clear and watery pathological product due to disordered fluid metabolism, also called fluid retention.

Phlegm-dampness/dampness- phlegm(濕痰)

A combination of phlegm and internal dampness as an entity to cause disease.

Static blood/blood stasis/stagnant blood (瘀血)

A pathological product of blood stagnation, including extravasated blood and the blood circulating sluggishly or blood congested in a viscus, all of which may turn into pathogenic factor.

Source: WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, 2007.