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The basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) are rooted in the Taoist philosophy of
yin and yang. These two polar opposites organize
and explain the ongoing process of natural change
and transformation in the universe.
According to ancient lore, yang marks the sunny
side and yin the shady side of a hill. In the theory of
yin and yang, all things and phenomena of the
cosmos contain these two complementary
aspects. The traditional Taoist symbol for completeness
and harmony is the merging monad of
yin and yang.
The standard of TCM, the Huang Di Nei Jing, “The
Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine,” dates as far
back as 500–300 BC. This 18-volume classic work
has two parts, Ling Shu and Su We. The Su Wen
explains the theoretical foundations of TCM in the
form of a dialogue between the legendary Yellow
Emperor Huan Di and his personal physician Shi
The Ling Shu, the practical part of the Nei Jing,
reports on therapies and their uses in TCM: acupuncture,
moxibustion, nutritional therapy, and
the use of medicinal herbs.
TCM is rooted in the Taoist worldview employed
by physicians and philosophers for centuries as a
guide for viewing and interpreting natural phenomena.
Tao means harmony–destination–way, the “all-inone,”
the origin of the world. The teachings of Taoism
are based on the work Tao te King (Tao te
Ching), “The Book of theWay and of Virtue,” by the
famous Chinese scholar Lao Tse (600 BC).
Guided by the Taoist perspective, “natural scientists”-->
took the findings of these observations of
nature and applied them to humans. They
regarded the human being as a natural being, a
part of nature, subject to and dependent on
The main principle of Tao is represented by the
two polarities yin and yang, which, according to
Taoist belief, mirror all phenomena in the universe.
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