As a young child, I’ve been awed by nature and everything in it. Be it the mountains or the seaside, bring me there and I’ll never return. My grandfathers have to literally “pull” me home because I’ll be so drawn to the place and be in the moment that time ceases to exist as a function. I would go back to the same place time after time and still be as curious as though it’s my first time being there, that’s also when I started to have a glimpse of the laws or flow of nature. It is under the influence of my maternal grandfather that I know of the relationship of following the flow of nature based on your body type and yin/ yang balance to achieve a healthy life. This is surprising similar to what was taught in class during the Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine) lesson hence I went to search up more on both type of systems and here’s what I found out.
TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) VS Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine)
Both traditions are believed to be dated back to BCE 5000 as confirmed by written records around BCE 2000.
Ayurveda considers the universe being made up of combinations of the five elements (pancha mahabhutas): akasha (ether), vayu (air), teja (fire), aap (water) and prithvi (earth).
TCM has a similar 5 elements theory as part of the bigger picture of the universe and its corresponding qualities/ phases: seasons, colours, cardinal directions, Celestial Body, taste, mental quality, smell, sensory organs, emotions, body parts, life stages and so on.
TCM emphasises on the balance of the Qi, yin, yang energies for a healthy body which in Ayurveda translates similarly as Prana, Ojas Tejas.
Ayurveda have 8 specialities
- Kayachikitsa – internal medicine
- Kaumarabhritya – paediatrics and gynaecology
- Shalyatantra – surgery
- Shalakyatantra – ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology
- Grihachikitsa – psychiatry
- Agatatantra – toxicology
- Rasayanatantra – geriatrics / rejuvenation therapy
- Vajeekaranatantra – sexology / virilification
TCM has seven:
▪ 内科Internal medicine
▪ 针灸科Acupuncture and moxibustion
Ayurveda has eight signs to look out for when diagnosing illness, they are Druk (vision), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Nadi (pulse), Mootra (urine), Mala (stool), Sparsha (touch), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurveda healers come upon a diagnosis through the five senses. For example, sense of hearing is utilised to listen for anomaly in breathing and speech. The touching of marman marma (vital points) is of special importance to sense for illnesses.
TCM uses a holistic 4 step method:
1 望诊 Inspection
Observation of the body anatomy, colour and radiance of the face, tongue shape, colour and coating.
2 闻诊 Auscultation and Olfaction
Listening for unusual sounds and body or mouth odours.
3 问诊 Inquisition
Inquisition puts focus on the “seven inquiries”, involving asking about the patient’s regularity, severity, other characteristics of: chills, fever, perspiration, appetite, thirst, taste, defecation, urination, pain, sleep, menses, leukorrhea. There’s also the “10 asks” method with more extensive questions which also will be asked to the patients’ family members.
4 切诊 Pulse feeling
Palpation includes feeling pulses on both wrists’ radial arteries which correspond to various organs, and the palpation of the wrist pulses as well as various other pulses.
Treatment and prevention
Contemporary Ayurveda emphasize on the upkeep of healthy metabolism and maintaining good digestion and excretion to attain vitality. Sattvic diet is a recommended type of prescription. Exercise, yoga asanas, and meditation are also the main focuses.
Ayurveda also attend to the concept of Dinacharya, a daily self-care ritual stressing on the importance of natural cycles (waking, sleeping, working, meditation etc.) for health. Hygiene, including regular bathing, cleaning of teeth, skin care, and eye washing, is also a central practice, this falls under the Niyama of Saucha.
Plant-based treatments in Ayurveda are derived from roots, leaves, fruits, bark, or seeds. Animal products used comprise of milk, bones, gallstones and fats (ghee) are prescribed both for consumption and for external use. Rasa shastra is the consumption of minerals such as sulphur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold, this addition of minerals to herbal medicine is also prescribed, though some are poisonous just like those used in TCM.
Madya, which are alcoholic drinks believed to adjust the doshas by reducing Vatta and Kapha and increasing Pitta (just like the ayurvedic use of opioids). They are classified by the raw material; sugar-based, fruit-based, cereal-based, cereal-based with herbs and fermentation process; fermented with vinegar, and tonic wines. These drinks causing purgation, improve digestion or taste, creates dryness, and loosening joints. Ayurvedic texts describe Madya as non-viscous and have fast actions on the body, cleaning the minute pores.
There is also Pancha (five) karma (treatment) (Devanāgarī: पंचकर्म)) get rid of toxins from the body using five methods. Panchakarma includes Vamana (forced, controlled vomiting to get rid of Kapha dosha that causes cough and cold), Virechana (purgation is induced by drugs and it specifically aims at the elimination of excessive Pitta Dosha), Basti (introduces herbal oils and decoctions into the rectum in a liquid medium to targets Vata dosha imbalance), Nasya (inhaling herbs and oils to removes ‘kapha’ toxins from the head and neck region) and Raktamokshana (using leeches to purify the blood and preventing gangrene formation as they improve circulation and remove congestions). These five steps are preceded by Poorvakarma (Snehan (taking of ghee) reduces the dryness of body tissues (dhatu) and body passages (srotasa), followed by taking of triphala as a mild laxative) as a preparatory step, followed by Paschatkarma (diet and lifestyle) and Pedikarma (foot reflexology).
TCM prescribe Qigong or Taichi (a mind and body practice involving gentle, dance-like body movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation) and Chinese food therapy (barely minimal to no side effects) as preventive methods.
Next comes treatment methods which are not invasive, Tui na (massaging through acupressure), Gua Sha (skin abrasion with pieces of smooth jade, bone, animal tusks or horns or smooth stones till red spots appear, followed by bruising in the intended area), Die-da (bone- setting, treating trauma and injuries to bones, tendons, ligaments and joints) and Cupping (glass hemispheres placed on acupoints with vacuum suction).
Then comes acupuncture (needle insertions into superficial structures of the body; skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles), moxibustion (mugwort burning on or near the skin at an acupuncture point) and Chinese Medicine (of plant origin, of animal origin, minerals, metals, human body parts prepared by different methods; washing, soaking, boiling, steaming, fermenting, drying, roasting, honey frying, wine frying, earth frying, vinegar frying, calcining, etc.).
This summary is only a minute tip of the iceberg, there are many more similarities and differences between TCM and TIM that I have not covered and do not know. Please point out any misconceptions I’ve written down or other things I have missed. Please to be on this Yoga discovery journey with you guys.