As a holistic system, Chinese medicine does not separate physical symptoms from those of an emotional nature. Instead, an individual is always looked at as a whole. Each symptom is looked at in relationship to all other presenting symptoms in order to find a complete health pattern. The goal of the practitioner is to bring balance to the patient — simultaneously treating both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition.
The most unique feature of Chinese medicine is that each treatment is individualized according to the specific needs of each patient. This means that every patient with a certain symptom — let’s take hot flashes as an example — will be treated differently depending on their individual constitution.
The treatment begins with the practitioner taking a detailed history of the patient. According to Peilin, such a history would include many aspects of a patient’s life, such as sleep habits, emotions, diet, exercise, previous operations, and an examination of the patient’s tongue, pulse, skin color, stool, urine, hair, and breath.
TCM therapies mainly consisted of two streams: Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture /moxibustion. These, together with other TCM therapies, like Tui-na and cupping, are a form of medicine unique from Western medicine. These TCM therapies are based on the same fundamental principles, but vary in treatment methods and knowledge. Using Chinese herbal medicine required in-depth knowledge of the specific characteristics of herbs and prescription, while acupuncture and moxibustion requires an understanding of the pathological relationship in the theory of meridians and collaterals.