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What is Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used in China for more than 2000 years. Its three main branches are herbal medicine, nutrition as well as acupuncture and acupressure respectively, all of which are already very widespread in the West. The principles of TCM serve as an important basis for almost all Tao Hamburg courses.

The basis of TCM is a holistic view of the human being. This means that both mental sensations and physical conditions are considered to be equally important. From the Chinese point of view, diseases are mainly caused by unhealthy living and eating habits, negative climatic influences such as heat, cold or humidity as well as by emotional stress.


Traditional Chinese medicine does not only aim at harmonizing the flow of life energy and thus at regaining physical and mental health. It also strives to build up vital energy (Strengthening the Center, Cultivating Kidney Energy) or to release negative energies such as phlegm and cold from the body.
Consequently, the three important fields of application of TCM are:

1. Treatment of diseases

2. Prevention – the prevention of diseases

In TCM, symptoms such as lack of energy, fatigue, cold feet, sleep disorders, dizziness, night urination etc. are considered to be precursors of disease. If these symptoms persist over a longer period of time, they lead to a weakening of the body and in many cases even to chronic diseases. The prevention of diseases is therefore an important aspect of TCM.

3. Building and maintaining vitality

This aspect of Chinese medicine is generally not very well known. But it is one of the essential key points of TCM. Taking care of and developing of life energy are central to all Taoism and especially to Qigong (article: Taoism). The ancient Chinese compared a man’s life to a burning candle giving rise to two questions:

1) How do I make sure that the candle burns evenly and does not flicker – how do I live in inner harmony?

2) What do I have to do to prevent the candle from burning quickly and losing substance – how can I be strong, energetic and healthy into old age?


As a result of this view TCM developed lots of methods to strengthen vitality and constitution. Two of the most important methods are “strengthening of your center” and “taking care of your kidney energy”. In TCM, kidney energy is seen as the carrier of the “Jing” – the essence of life. We receive most of this essence of life from our parents. And we should use it up as sparingly as possible.

Many Taoist mystics or Qigong masters have written about this aspect of TCM or developed practical exercises. On the one hand, “longevity” is one of the most important goals in Taoism. On the other hand, every person who embarks on the path of spirituality needs vitality as a basis for their practice.

Therefore, all methods of TCM, which serve the development and nourishment of a person’s life force, are a blessing for anybody who either practices Qigong, is on the path of mysticism or is spiritually interested. Profound inner development will typically be achieved through a combination of “methods for building and maintaining the vital energy” as well as Qigong or meditation.