Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of medicine based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of Western medicine.
Holistic means that no single part of a person can be understood except in its relation to the whole. A symptom is not traced back to a single cause, but is viewed in its relation to the whole body.
Energetic means that vital energy (called Chi or Qi in Asian culture) is the foundation of life and health: it is the life energy animating our physical body.
The ancient Chinese recognized the vital energy behind all life forms and life processes. In developing an understanding of the prevention and cure of disease, ancient physicians studied this system of cyclic energy flowing in the human body along specific pathways (meridians). Each pathway is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ: this system of energy is the foundation of acupuncture theory.
Disease is considered to arise from a deficiency or imbalance of vital energy (Chi) in the meridians and their associated physiological systems. This imbalance or diagnosis is determined by taking into account all circumstances in a patient's life: all physical, mental, and emotional components are considered. Western medicine by contrast usually isolates a disease to a specific organ, system, or region of the body.
The pathways or meridians of energy communicate with the surface of the body at specific locations called acupuncture points. Each point has a predictable effect upon the vital energy passing through it. Modern science has been able to measure the electrical charge at these points, thus corroborating the locations of the meridians mapped by the ancients.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has also developed methods of determining the flow in the meridian system using an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis. Findings from these methods are combined with other signs and symptoms to create a composite diagnosis. A "personalized" treatment plan is then formulated to induce a balanced state of health.