TCM and Medical Science are totally different system

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

TCM and modern medical science are totally different systems.

To learn more about TCM system, we highly recommend you read this research article first:

Open complex giant system and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Shuyun Wang et al., Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine. Vol. 1, No. 3 (2018) 193–197.


 Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM’s) categorization is totally different from Western Medicine (modern medicine), with different categorization and different approach.

In the research article of Understanding Chinese Medicine Patterns of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Related Biomarkers” by Susana Seca andGiovanna Franconi, Medicines 20185(1), 17:

“Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses an individualized approach based on the unique combination of symptoms and signs of each patient.”

“TCM pattern diagnosis is an approach that takes into account a broad spectrum of symptoms and signs. Constitutional, behavioural and social aspects are also considered in both the diagnosis and in the selection of treatment.”

“In TCM clinical practice, patients with the same disease can be divided into different groups according to their syndromes.”

Here’s another great sample:

A research analysis on insomnia identified by TCM, which has categorized “insomnia” into different sub-groups according TCM’s methodology (“Zheng” or symptoms), and also showed very effective in treatment by TCM.

Reference: Classification of Insomnia Using the Traditional Chinese Medicine System: A Systematic Review. Maggie Man-Ki Poon etc. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012, Article ID 735078, 9 pages

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a sophisticated diagnostic system called pattern differentiation, which allows for the tailor-made treatment of individuals.

Here’s another research paper studying elbow pain that has showed the difference of categorization between TCM and current modern medical science, and TCM system works very well.

Reference: Pattern Differentiation of Lateral Elbow Pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Systematic Review. Marcus Gadau, etc. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Vol. 22, No. 11.

There’s another research paper on Rheumatoid Arthritis that compared different categorization by TCM and Modern Medical Science (or called Western Medicine). It also showed both methodologies would work well.

Reference: Principal factor analysis of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and their correlations with efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Yi-ting He etc. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2008, Vol. 6 ›› Issue (1): 32-36

Scientists are also working on the studying the categorization of cancer by TCM’s standard, and even at molecular level, and do recognize that the TCM categorization has its feasibility in practice and can guide the effective treatment by TCM:

Clinical Distribution and Molecular Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine ZHENG in Cancer. Zhen Chen. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012, Article ID 783923, 8 pages.

So, we can see, TCM and modern medical science are two totally different system with different methodology to study the human body, and both showed the effectiveness. However, TCM is more about on experience-based (practice-based), or evidence-based approach, with 3000-5000 years of practice, and is gradually being recognized by current scientific study.


Let’s look at the Arthritis as a more detailed example.

According to, there are “more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions”. Come on! If you check other diseases, you can see, there are more and more disease’s names nowadays than 100 years ago. WHY? Because there’s no clearcut for any standardized categorization method. As long as scientists/doctors find something different from recorded disease name by some biomarkers, then they come up a new name. From the description of the symptoms, seems like they understand very well about the disease, but the fact is, they even don’t know the cause. EACH person’s body is slightly different, and even with the same cause (e.g. the same virus infected), different people may have different symptoms. How can they come up so many different Disease Names? Even for Vocid-19 virus infection, I’m sure there can be divided into many different disease names with different biomarkers, if not using virus strains.

In TCM system, the Arthritis (or Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other arthritis), can be divided into two main group: cold and hot.

The cold pattern is described as an attack from the external pathogen agent algor “cold”, showing symptoms such as a cold feeling in the limbs and joints; stiffness or pain in a joint or muscle which is relieved by applying warmth and increases with the patient’s exposure to cold; local reduction of the microcirculation; thin white tongue coating; wiry and tight pulse; facial pallor; loose stools; clear profuse urine; and absence of thirst.

The heat or hot pattern is related with hot, red, swollen and inflamed joints; severe pain generally relieved by applying cold to the joints; red tongue with a yellow coating; pulse may be rapid; flushed face; constipation and deep-colored urine; thirst; and irritability.

In TCM, yes, it is a little vague system, but it uses a totally different categorization system, paired with disease cause, and treatment method. That’s why a lot of people don’t understand, why TCM can use same herbal formula to treat “different diseases” (may have similar symptoms) and use different herbal formula to treat “same diseases” (may have totally different diseases).


Let’s dig a little deeper here to see the difference.

For example, COVID-19 is a pandemic disease we are currently facing in last three years. It is caused by same virus, obviously (let’s assume with the same strains of virus situation).

However, even with exactly same virus (i.e. same disease), why someone had mild symptoms, someone had more serious symptoms, someone had life-threatening situation? Yes, because people’s bodies are different. In TCM, those three kinds of people would use different herbal formula for treatment. Isn’t it scientific and logic?

Even for the same people infected with one virus, at the beginning, this person would have little symptoms, maybe sour throat, fever, headache. With time going forward, this person may become more serious, and have lung damage, with difficult breathing. If not treated well, this person may have other organ’s damage and need go to ICU and will die if it becomes worse.

In TCM system, it categorizes all stages as difference diseases, and will use different herbal formula for treatment, and the dose may be stronger and stronger. Isn’t it very scientific and logic thinking?

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