Is TCM Really Chinese Medicine?

Is TCM Really Chinese Medicine?

Is TCM Really Chinese Medicine

“Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.” ~Lao Zi

Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) is enjoying a gentle renaissance. Much like the renewed interest in organic food, natural therapies and meditation, CCM goes back to the origins of the practice to a less standardized, more holistic and spiritually rooted approach. Many practitioners subscribe to the theories of CCM (even instinctively) but may be surprised to realize that what they do in practice is incongruent. That is, we conceptualize the theories of CCM but haven't enough training or experience in the Classics to practice that way.

CCM held sway in China for thousands of years prior to the Chinese Cultural Revolution when Mao decided to standardize and secularize the practice of Chinese Medicine, giving birth to the current face of Chinese Medicine in the west: Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM.

As Heiner Fruehauf writes: "...most of us will find that our own convictions and modes of practice follow propositions that can be found on both sides of the dividing line... it is my experience that Oriental medicine practitioners in the West often proclaim to embrace the principles stated on the left, while their modus operandi in terms of diagnosis and treatment is much more closely aligned with the attitudes outlined on the right...Others, after surveying this table, might find that although they were not aware of a "TCM issue" in the past, they certainly like the premises of "TCM" better than the mystifying conjectures of the classical path..."

Elements of Classical Chinese Medicine practice (only a few covered here!):

  1. CCM is a rich and sophisticated medical system with thousands of years of deep practice to support it. Based on ancient historical texts written before the Han Dynasty including the Nei Jing (Su Wen - Ling Shu), Nan Jing and Jia Yi Jing, it has vital relevance for contemporary society.
  2. CCM embraces interconnectedness of nature, health and life. Is based on naturalist philophy (Daoism) and  based on traditional parameters of Daoist science (yin/yang, wuxing, bagua, wuyun liuqi, jing-qi-shen, etc.).  

  3. CCM recognizes the whole person and is body-mind-spirit medicine. Practitioners look at the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of a patient’s imbalance and aim their treatments at the root cause of the disharmony. The mind-body-spirit connection is paramount, whereas TCM is mind-body.
  4. CCM believes  the "physician is intermediary to the sacred, cultivating the dual roles of the shaman (master of intuited knowledge) and the sage (master of scholarly knowledge), connecting above and below, inside and outside, energy and matter ." (Fruehauf)

  5. CCM rejects one-size-fits-all treatment protocols and instead offers individualized diagnosis and treatment, making use of all modalities available.  

Clearly, all differences between Classical Chinese Medicine vs. Traditional Chinese Medicine practice, belief and philosophy are too many to include here. 

We challenge you to take the time to read more on this topic from experts in the field. Build new understanding and skills into your practice, and bring greater healing to your patients.


Heiner Fruehauf's Chinese Medicine in Crisis

Heiner Fruehauf's Classical Chinese Medicine vs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (as shown on

More from Heiner's Chinese Medicine website.


We've got a series of useful videos and previews on our YouTube Channel to help deepen your knowledge of Classical Chinese Medicine. These videos contain great clinical pearls you can apply in your clinic to get better results right away.

Lectures from Dr. Edward Neal

ed-neal MD, L.Ac and founding director of the International Society for the Study of Classical Acupuncture

View some of his free talks on our Medigogy site:


ProD Seminars offers courses by leaders in the field of Classical Chinese Medicine including Huang Huang , Feng Shi-Lun, Sharon Weizenbaum, Rani Ayal, Heiner Fruehauf and many more. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from the best! 

Dr. Feng Shi-Lun

drfeng This online course provides a comprehensive understanding of the Shang Han Lun in an organized fashion. Students will have deep insight into the use of classic formulas for a wide variety of illnesses. Students will gain thorough knowledge into the differentiation of formula families of Shao Yang 6 channel/8 parameter understanding.. Read more>

Dr. Huang Huang


Teaches and practices classic formulas from the Shang Han Lun tradition in Nan Jing, China. Read more>

Choose any of these recorded online courses:

Heiner Fruehauf


Founding Professor of the School of Classical Chinese Medicine at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OregonRead more>

Recorded online courses - choose any:

Sharon Weizenbaum

sharonweizenbaum Sharon has incorporated into her classes form her learning experience with Dr. Huang Huang, Feng Shi-Lun, Yaron Seidman and so many of her teachers over the past 30 years.  Sharon has a gift of taking complex concepts and distilling them down to their essence so that can be easily incorporated into your daily practice.

Rani Ayal

raniayal Rani is a wonderful teacher and stays true to the classics and clearly presents Sun Si Miao's wisdom.

Check out even more online classical Chinese Medicine courses and enjoy free video previews!

We welcome your thoughts on how reading and learning about Classical Chinese Medicine has shaped your practice. Just "Add New Comment" below.