What Is Your Fundamental Practice — Chinese Medicine or Yi?

Australasian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Annual Conference

Dr. Rhonda Chang

Most of us call ourselves practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but many of us aren’t fully aware that so-called TCM has different theoretical foundations to how Chinese medicine was practiced before the communist revolution. To make delineation, I want to call Chinese medicine before the communist revolution by the name Yi, and Chinese medicine after the communist revolution I will call TCM. In this lecture I want to point out and discuss the fundamental differences between traditional TCM and Yi, and how I hope we can re-establish the practice of Yi.


TCM is based on a system called Bianzheng Lunzhi (BZLZ), which was developed in the late 1950s to 1970s and in some respects is an ongoing development, and which heavily relies on a biomedical perspective of the body and illness. Yi on the other hand relies on the principles of yinyang wuxing. The developers of TCM were tasked by the government with eliminating the “unscientific” elements in the the practice of traditional healing, i.e. yinyang, wuxing and notions of the spirit. These developers compared the treatment methods recorded in the ancient texts and allocated these methods to treat biomedical diseases. However practitioners of TCM don’t have a thorough understanding of how these methods were developed in the first place, and can’t judge adequately the appropriateness of their use. For simple problems the treatments can often be effective, but when matters become more complicated or aren’t covered in the TCM textbooks the methods just as frequently become ineffective, and worrisome to the practitioner if a patient has an adverse reaction to the treatment.


On the other hand, within the system of Yi the principles of yiyang and wuxing provide the diagnostic and healing methods. The primary goal of an Yi physician is to balance or regulate the yinyang wuxing condition of the patient with the appropriate herbs or acupuncture. This gives a practitioner the flexibility to create healing methods to deal with any kind of illness and provides the reasoning system to understand the causes when a treatment method is unsuccessful or has an adverse reaction, and to create alternative methods.


17 May 2018 | Holme Building, Science Rd, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006 Australia


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