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Principles of Chinese Medicine
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As the world's most comprehensive and deeply researched system of alternative and complementary medicine, Chinese medicine enjoys a large following in scientifically developed communities. Yet its concepts and principles have been shrouded in mystery and obscure language. This path-breaking book strips this ancient science of its mystique and metaphysical pretentions and interprets it to strike common ground with biomedical science. Concepts like qi and meridians are interpreted not as physical entities, but as constructs to facilitate diagnosis and therapy using heuristic models. Written for medical professionals, philosophers of medicine and discerning readers interested in holistic therapies, the book offers a unique perspective of Chinese medicine in an advanced biomedical world. It has practical chapters on cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome and cancer, and a compilation of Chinese herbs. This second edition of the acclaimed Theory of Chinese Medicine has new material on chronic diseases and the intriguing possible convergence of biomedicine and TCM.

Sample Chapter(s)
Foreword (43 KB)
The Origins and Nature of Chinese Medicine (200 KB)

  • The Origins and Nature of Chinese Medicine
  • Chinese and Western Medicine: Never the Twain Shall Meet?
  • The Causes of Disease
  • The Fundamental Ingredients of Life
  • Organ and Meridian Systems
  • Methods of Diagnosis and Therapy
  • Treating Illness: Herbs and Other Therapies
  • Scientific Evidence for TCM
  • Cultural Factors in Placebo Effects
  • Treatment of Chronic Illnesses
  • Chinese Medicine: Reinterpretation and Future Direction

Readership: Medical professionals, both Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners; librarians of TCM professional associations and teaching institutes; scholars interested in the theoretical basis for Chinese medicine, and the informed general reader seeking to understand the rationale and applicability of Chinese medical therapies to enhance their health.
Free Access
  • Pages:i–xxi


No Access
Chapter 1: The Origins and Nature of Chinese Medicine
  • Pages:1–13


No Access
Chapter 2: Chinese and Western Medicine: Never the Twain Shall Meet?
  • Pages:15–24


No Access
Chapter 3: The Causes of Disease
  • Pages:25–43


No Access
Chapter 4: The Fundamental Ingredients of Life
  • Pages:45–67


No Access
Chapter 5: Organ and Meridian Systems
  • Pages:69–90


No Access
Chapter 6: Methods of Diagnosis and Therapy
  • Pages:91–125


No Access
Chapter 7: Treating Illness: Herbs and Other Therapies
  • Pages:127–137


No Access
Chapter 8: Scientific Evidence for TCM
  • Pages:139–163


No Access
Chapter 9: Cultural Factors in Placebo Effects
  • Pages:165–173


No Access
Chapter 10: Treatment of Chronic Illnesses
  • Pages:175–193


No Access
Chapter 11: Chinese Medicine: Reinterpretation and Future Direction
  • Pages:195–203


No Access
  • Pages:205–244


Free Access
  • Pages:245–259


"Despite its efficacy in treating ailments (for some of which Western medicine offers no cure), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) continues to be regarded with skepticism in the West. To a large extent, this is due to the fact that TCM practitioners have been unable to explain TCM theories using Western scientific categories. A TCM physician who was also trained in the philosophy of science at Cambridge and the London School of Economics, Hong Hai offers a fresh and at times iconoclastic interpretation of Chinese medicine. This is without doubt the most important contribution to the field in the modern era. At last, Chinese medicine makes sense. Surprisingly accessible, this work is a must read for doctors East and West."

Michael Tai, PhD (Cambridge)
Research Associate
Cambridge University

"This is a book which should not be missed by anyone with an interest in Chinese medicine."

Emeritus Professor Donald Gillies
Dept of Science and Technology Studies
University College, London

"A fascinating book with special implications for medical professionals evaluating TCM as a genuine science and therapeutic armamentaria."

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine

"I enjoyed reading the book and applaud the seriousness with which the author tackles the difficult problem of evaluating TCM and his recognition of the amount of work that still has to be done."

Professor Sir Geoffrey Lloyd
Needham Research Institute
Cambridge University

"A scientific, historical, philosophical and at times unconventional interpretation of TCM. It is a refreshing read and highly recommended to anyone who wishes to explore and understand TCM better in order to improve and maintain one's health."

Dr Koh Hwee Ling
Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacy
National University of Singapore

"The core of this book deals with the epistemological issues concerning the scientific status of medical conjectures in Traditional Chinese Medicine, very intelligently written and bringing to bear a great deal of common sense and good philosophy. There is much that is highly original in it."

Peter J Clark
Professor Philosophy
University of St Andrews

"Lucid, brilliant explanation of the terminology and principles of TCM and its approach to the management of syndromes. This is a book that anyone with even the slightest interest in complementary medicine should read."

Dr Teoh Eng Soon MBBS, MD, FRCOG, FACS
Gynecologist and former lecturer
NUS Medical School

"Approaching the theories of traditional Chinese medicine from the perspectives of the contemporary philosophy of science, this book is an important contribution to both of these two fields. It has expanded the intellectual horizons to better understand traditional Chinese medicine."

Jing-Bao Nie, BMed, MMed, MA, PhD
Bioethics Centre
University of Otago

"This book, by far, is one of the most useful and lucid sources for understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine. In my reading of Western sources on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I would have to rate this as an essential read. The author effectively bridges Eastern and Western medicine without either losing their essential identities and strengths. The author is extremely clear on the philosophies underlying the practice of TCM and how it relates to the biomedical science and suggests reasonable ways of testing TCM that go beyond simple conclusions drawn from random control designs and the pitfalls of scientism. Let me also be perfectly clear that this is not a 'cheer leading' book blindly accepting the wisdom of the sages past and is by no means a New Age reading: it's solid, balanced, insightful and respectful.
If I had one book to recommend for a first reading of those seeking to explore and understand TCM and its relationship to Western medicine, this would be the one. Frankly this is a brilliant book written by a brilliant author and should be required reading for students studying TCM."

Robert A Figleron


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