Traditional Chinese Medicine For Dummies

Many of you may share my interest in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) but, like me, have trouble finding good resources to educate ourselves. I just finished a new illustrated book which makes learning about Chinese medicine almost fun. Almost. It’s called The Illustrated Book of Traditional Chinese Cultivation of Health. I recommend it as good starter material for anyone interested in TCM. Here’s the publisher blurb:

This is the first illustrated book ever published in English about the basic theories of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
It is concise, yet vivid, and easy to comprehend. Filled with hundreds of lively illustrations, Zhou Chuncai introdues the subject systematically, comprehensively and enjoyable, guiding the reader step by step through the enigmatic world of TCM.

The book covers:

  • Theories of Yin-Yang and Five Elements, the Basic Theories of TCM
  • Doctrine of Visceral Manifestions
  • The Basic concepts of Qi, Blood and Body Fluid
  • Pathogenic Factors in TCM
  • Treatment based on syndrome differentation
  • Eight Therapeutic methods in Chinese medicine


It’s As Easy As It’s Going To Get…

Readers are probably familiar with the Dummies series of books which for two decades have provided simple how-to guides for hundreds of topics. So you can consider this book as a “Dummies Guide to TCM”. It covers all the basic theory, as well as more practical issues of which famous medicines work for what diseases. The very cute illustrations make this far more readable than any other text I’ve seen on TCM, and studying TCM literally probably can’t get any easier than this. But honestly that isn’t such high praise, as it’s still very difficult reading, and understanding TCM is never easy.

After finishing this book, I must confess that I still have almost no deep grasp of TCM theories. The illustrations help a lot, but the underlying structure remains completely obscure to me. More importantly for me, I am less inclined than before to think of TCM as a serious approach to health. It’s elegant and poetic and provides nice basic instructions on good health, but the underlying scientific basis for almost any of it remains unproven. After reading this, I feel fairly done with my attempts to understand TCM. I’ve tried, and I’ve researched, and I am more comfortable than ever that TCM has little to add to my medical practice. I still will continue my attempts to find herbs that work.

Where To Buy

It’s only available in China now, but you can order it for $10 plus international shipping from the English language site Mandarinbooks.com.




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