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Traditional Chinese Medicine Terminology

Aromatic Stomacic - herbs that are aromatic and promote digestion by moving dampness.

Blood - used as a broad term to describe the physical blood in the body that moistens the muscles, tissues, skin and hair, as well as nourishing the cells and organs.

Blood Deficiency - a lack of blood with signs of anemia, dizziness, dry skin or hair, scant or absent menstruation, fatigue, pale skin and poor memory.

Calmative - a sedative or calming effect on the mind and the nerves.

Cold - the term used to describe decreased functioning of an organ system and presents as any of the following: body aches, chills, poor circulation, fatigue, lack of appetite, loose stools or diarrhea, poor digestion, pain in the joints, slow movements and speech, aversion to cold and craving for heat. Is present in all "hypo" conditions such as hypoadrenalism, hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism.

Damp, dampness - excessive fluids in the body with symptoms of abdominal bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, lack of thirst, feeling of heaviness or being sluggish, and stiff, aching or sore joints.

Damp Heat - a condition of dampness and heat combined with symptoms of thick yellow secretions and phlegm such as jaundice, hepatitis, urinary problems, or eczema.

Decoction - a combination of herbs which is cooked or brewed to make a soup or medicinal tea.

Deficiency - any weakness or insufficiency of qi, blood, yin, yang or essence.

Deficiency Heat - heat due to yin deficiency. Results in weakness and emaciation because of the lack of moistening fluids (yin).

Diuretic - rids the body of excess fluid.

Dry/Dryness - characterized by dry hair, lips, mouth, nose, skin and throat, extreme thirst and constipation.

Eight Principles - four sets of factors used by TCM practitioners to assess a person's health. Represented by internal/external, cold/heat, excess/deficiency, and yin/yang (they should all be in balance with their counterpart).

Empty Heat - a deficiency of yin energy resulting in symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and other changes in hormonal levels. Also known as empty fire.

Essence - a fluid substance that provides the basis of reproduction, growth, sexual power, conception and pregnancy. It is the material foundation of qi and is stored in the kidney. Also referred to as Jing.

Excess - generally refers to too much heat, cold, damp, yin or yang.

Excess Yang - similar to excess heat with symptoms of rapid pulse, hypertension, agressive actions, loud voice, high fever, red complexion or restlessness.

Excess Yin - an imbalance of excessive fluids in the body with symptoms of fluid retention, a plump or swollen appearance, lethargy and overall signs of dampness - although those with excess yin may still have adequate energy levels.

External - the location of illnesses such as fevers and skin eruptions / on the surface of the body.

Fire - results from malfunction of the internal organs or from extreme mood swings. Symptoms include fever, red or bloodshot eyes, swelling, sore throat and flushed face. May also include dry mouth, bleeding or inflammed gums, and a desire for cold drinks.

Five Elements - the five energies of wood, earth, metal, water and fire which exist in nature. Each transforms and controls one another to maintain a harmonious balance.

Internal - the location of illnesses such as those that affect qi, blood, and organs inside the body.

Meridians - the 12 major pathways through which qi flows, supplying energy and nourishment to the body. Acupuncture needles are placed in points along these pathways to assist in correcting imbalances.

Organs - a major source of confusion in understanding the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although the organ names in TCM are the same as in Western Medicine, they cover a wide range of systems and functions:

Phlegm - may be a visible, sticky substance such as mucus or metaphorical to indicate a disorder that causes a reduction in the flow of qi.

Qi - pronounced "chee", this is the vital energy or life force which flows through the meridians and is used to protect, transform and warm the body.

Qi Deficiency - a lack of qi which is seen with symptoms of lethargy, weakness, shortness of breath, slow metabolism, frequent colds and flu with slow recovery, low or soft voice, palpitations and/or frequent urination.

Qigong - a set of exercises including medatative and physical movements. Used to move qi, thereby maintaining and regaining physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Seven Emotions - the seven emotions are sadness, fright, fear, grief, anger, joy (extreme excitability) and pensiveness. These are all considered as potential causes of illness.

Shen - the spirit and mental faculties of a person which include the zest for life, charisma, the ability to exhibit self control, be responsible, speak coherently, think and form ideas and live a happy, spiritually fulfilled life.

Six External Evils - the six external evils, like the seven emotions, are causes of illness and disease. Also known as the six climatic factors, the six excesses and the six evil qi. The six external evils are terms from nature that are used to describe the condition. These include wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness and fire. Terms are also used metaphorically to indicate the behaviour of a particular ailment or condition.

Stagnation - a blockage or buildup of qi or blood that prevents it from flowing freely. Is a precursor of illness and disease and is frequently accompanied by pain or tingling.

Stomach Heat - too much heat in the stomach is represented by bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums, burning sensation in the stomach, extreme thirst, frontal headaches and/or mouth ulcers.

Summer Heat - overactive functioning of an organ system resulting in symtoms of thirst, aversion to heat and craving for cold, infection, inflammation, dryness, red face, sweating, irritability, dark yellow urine, restlessness, constipation and "hyper" conditions such as hypertension.

TCM - the abbreviation for Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Tai Chi - a set of smooth, flowing exercises used to improve or maintain health, create a sense of relaxation and keep qi flowing.

Tao - the ancient philosophy of oneness in all creation.

Tonification / Tonify - to nourish, support or strengthen the condition of qi, blood or weak organ function.

Toxicity - applies to any inflammation, infection or severe heat disease.

Triple Burner or Triple Warmer - represents the three production centres for warm energy and water. The upper burner is the heart/lung system, the middle burner is the spleen/stomach, and the lower burner is the kidney/bladder/intestines.

Tuina - Traditional Chinese massage technique that focuses on meridians and acupoints.

Wei Qi - defensive energy, the TCM equivalent of the immune system.

Wind - causes the sudden movement of a condition. Examples are a rash that is spreading, onset of colds, fever, chills, vertigo, spasms or twitches.

Yang - represents heat and the body's ability to generate and maintain warmth and circulation.

Yang Deficiency - a cold condition due to lack of the heating quality of yang. Symptoms include lethargy, poor digestion, cold, lower back pain and decreased sexual drive.

Yin - represents cool and the substance of the body, including blood and bodily fluids that nurture and moisten the organs and tissues.

Yin Deficiency - a heat condition that results in symptoms of night sweats, fever, nervous exhaustion, dry eyes and throat, dizziness, blurred vision, insomnia and a burning sensation in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the chest.

Zangfu - describes the solid organs (zang) that store vital substances and the hollow organs (fu) which are responsible for transportation.

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