Evaluating Chinese medicine's theoretical foundations - do ancient paradigms merit a place in modern medicine?

By Charles Buck


Although many investigations have demonstrated acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine’s (tcm’s) value in medical treatment, there is limited formal scientific appraisal of its associated models and paradigms to support their adoption in professional medical practice1. Consequently, alongside the increasing utilisation of the techniques of tcm there is a simultaneous denial of its traditional systematic rationale. This dissertation offers a thematic literature review, searching out and critically examining research literature which explores tcm theory using biomedical parameters. Focusing primarily on literature available in English language sources, a concise survey of the field as a whole is presented first, followed by a more focused critical evaluation of the literature attempting to offer biomedical descriptions of yin and yang deficiencies. From this follows an examination of the various possible approaches to the study of tcm paradigms thereby offering initial orientations for future work. It is argued that such evaluation is important if the holistic tradition is to survive and remain credible alongside widespread adoption of tcm treatment techniques by practitioners who are primarily biomedically orientated.