Etiology, Pathogenesis, Function States, and TCM Diagnoses(1)

The essence of clinical TCM is its selection of treatments according to differential syndromes of diagnoses (a special TCM holistic process) based on the Yin–Yang theory and the five phases theory. According to these theories, each system exists to adapt to changes in its surroundings. The existence or development of each system is dictated by the changes of the outside world. Therefore, TCM attributes diseases essentially to the conflicts between the human body and nature or between any of its parts and the entire body, regardless of internal or external factors. The human body is a balanced system centered in the five organs and augmented with six organs. The whole will exerts its influence on the whole body through the internal environment. If one part does not stay in balance with the changes of the whole body, the information transferring to or from the brain is distorted or deformed. Therefore, the physiological activity and coordination of the body may be disturbed or perhaps destroyed. Essentially, all diseases are caused by the partial or entire body imbalance, such as stasis of partial energy circulation.

The internal driving force for the development of the system is a conversion from imbalance to balance. A system would perish if it were in a fixed state. The continuous changes in the outside world drive the development of the system, and so does the human body. When changes in the outside world are sensed by a part of the body, the information is sent to the brain through the nervous system. The information in accordance with the whole will through competition would guide the movement of the entire system. The new activity would again determine a new competitive round of information. The whole will continuously produces adaptability to the outside world. Therefore, life is continual change within the outside world.

In modern science, people often use the term “functional state” to describe a process and state of the human body adapting to the change of nature. The idea of one’s heart is the consciousness coming out of the mind. Obviously, different functional states embody different consciousnesses of the brain as well as central activities of the whole will. Consciousness is reflected by the human body as against, or unified with, the outside world. Although the connection of the human body with the outside world is extensive and profound, we can still categorize factors that influence consciousness into three types. The first type is the influence on activities at microcosmic scales, such as the gravitational effect that connects each atom of the human body to the development of the cosmos. This category includes electromagnetic waves connecting the human body with natural phenomena in near proximity, such as the brightness of sunlight, the periodic revolution of the earth, and the change of weather. The movement of the moon around the earth clearly influences the metabolism of matter and energy, which is based on the continuous water environment and influences the human body’s functional states. For example, the functional state of sleeping and the woman’s menstrual period are caused on a microcosmic scale by the movement of the moon. The second type of influence is the exchange of substances between the human body and the outside world, such as medicine, food, or respiration. These factors influence the consciousness by changing the internal environment — for example, the hypnotic. The third type of influence is change in the social environment. The most distinctive difference between human beings and animals is a completely new nonlinear system in human beings. Any changes in social relations and information gathered by the senses of sight, hearing, and smell have a direct influence on the consciousness of the human body, hence influencing changes of the functional states of the body, such as joy, anger, sadness, worry, and euphoria.

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