Differences Between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine

Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Both Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have evolved for a long time and are both supported by the World Health Organization. During the last decades, Chinese government focused on TCM, the article below will show the similarities and differences between Western medicine and TCM.


In theory, Western medicine is evidenced based on scientific technology, anatomy and chemistry, whereas TCM is based on experimental technology, these techniques originates from the Yin and the Yang. TCM focuses on the whole body and the flow of QI. When the entire system is in balance, optimal health occurs.

Where does the problem come from and how to fix it?

In Western medicine, doctors believe that diseases and viruses are caused by bacterias or genetic disorder, to resolve the problem patients will use drugs or antibiotics.

In TCM, doctors belief is that diseases and viruses are caused by a lack of balance between the Yin and Yang, to cure it patients will use herbs and therapy (eaten or vaporized). This principle of medicine is called “Pao Zhi”



To propose a diagnosis, doctors in Western medicine will examines the body fluids and tissues to compare it to a normal range and will also use modern scientific instruments (blood or urine test, X-ray, ultrasound..) to check on the human body and estimates what is the problem.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, doctors uses the “Wang, Wen, Wen, Qie” which means looking, listening and smelling, asking and touching. Doctors makes diagnosis based on symptoms related to the imbalance of Yin and Yang by analyzing the patient’s pulse, posture and feelings.

Pros and Cons

Ambulance - Learn Chinese

Ambulance – Learn Chinese

In western medicine the treatment if directly targeted to the pathogen which make it more effective and therefore better for the patient, however, sides effects might happen in the same time.

TCM is healthier for chronicle problem as is it targeted to one’s whole body and can detect chronicle disease earlier. However, it can take more longer to cure a disease as the treatment is not directly targeted to it.

The question is, which one is the best?

The answer is both, they both have advantages and disadvantages. They are mutually beneficial to each other and a combination of those two kind of medicine will help you have a healthy body and mind.

Interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine? Find out more about LTL’s TCM course with Chinese language introduction.

This guest blog was provided by The Care Voice.

“The Care Voice provide an online review platform that allows users to rate and review hospitals and doctors in Shanghai whilst empowering them to make better health care decisions. With the recent launch of our English app, our mission is to enable foreigners to make better and hassle free healthcare decisions on where to get diagnosed or treated in Shanghai.”

Being sick in China: Essential Chinese Medical Terms

Imagine being sick in China and not having the words to explain how you feel. This list of Chinese Medical Terms, an essential vocabulary for illnesses, body parts, medicines, and common phrases to use at the pharmacy or at the hospital.

First of all, let’s learn four indispensable words when it comes to health:
Hospital医院 (yī yuàn)
Doctor医生 (yī shēng)
Pharmacy 药店 (yào diàn)
Pharmacist 药剂师 (yào jì shī)

Once you are face to face to the doctor/pharmacist, you might need to talk about your symptoms, so, when you’ll be asked “Where on your body are you uncomfortable” 你什么地方不舒服? (nǐ shén me dì fang bù shū fu) you might need this list of symptoms below:

Have A Cold 感冒 (gǎnmào)
Fever 发烧 (fāshāo)
Stuffy Nose 鼻塞 (bísè)
Runny nose 流鼻涕 (liú bí tì)
Chill 发冷 (fā lěng)
Cough 咳嗽 (késou)
Sneeze 打喷嚏 (dǎpēntì)
Diarrhea 拉肚子 (lā dùzi)
Dizzy 晕眩 (yūnxuàn)
Nauseous 恶心 (ěxīn)
Vomit 呕吐 ( ǒutù)
Heartburn 胃灼热 (wèi zhuó rè)
Injured 受伤 (shòushāng)
Swollen 红肿 (hóng zhǒng)
Sore Throat 喉咙痛 (hóulóng tòng)
Headache头痛 (tóu tòng)
Backache背痛 (bèi tòng)
Stomachache 胃痛 (wèi tòng)
Earache 耳朵痛 (ěrduo tòng)
Toothache 牙痛 (yá tòng)
Rash 疹子(zhěnzi)
Allergy 过敏 (guòmǐn)
Be Sick 生病 (shēngbìng)

Once the doctor understands what’s going on with your health, you might get a prescription 药方 (yào fāng) and might need to buy some drugs/ medicine 药 (yào)

You can be prescribed …
capsule 胶囊 (jiāonáng)
pill/tablet 药丸 (yàowán); 药片 (yàopiàn)
drops 药水 (yàoshuǐ)
ointment软管 (ruǎngāo)
syrup 糖浆 (tángjiāng)
such as…

antacid 解酸剂 (jiě suān jì);胃药( wèi yào)
antibiotic 抗生素 (kàngshēngsù)
antipyretic 退烧药 (tuìshāo yào)
cough drop 喉糖 (hóu táng)
cough syrup 咳嗽糖浆 (késòu tángjiāng)
eye drops 眼药水 (yǎn yàoshuǐ)
painkiller 止痛药 (zhǐtòng yào)
vaccine 疫苗 (yìmiáo)
vitamin 维他命 (wéitāmìng)

Finally, you might also need Band-Aid OK绷 (O.K bēng) and a thermometer 温度计 (wēndùjì).

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