Classical Chinese medicine represents one of humanity’s richest and uninterrupted streams of traditional knowledge. It is a highly sophisticated clinical system that offers a real alternative for the serious health care needs of our time. The 21st century will see a return to the time-honored values of living in harmony with nature and the essence of being fully human. This journey toward genuine health and wholeness is precipitated by the present blossoming of the traditions of holistic medicine, with Chinese medicine blazing the trail.
–Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, LAc, Founding Professor, College of Classical Chinese Medicine, National University of Natural Medicine
Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) has been created over thousands of years through the direct experience and observations of doctors and scholars, both in and outside of China. It is rooted in the classical medical texts of ancient China, particularly the Yellow Emperor's Inner Cannon (Huangdi Nei Jing) and the Classic on Cold Damage (Shang Han Lun). In comparison, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the form of Chinese Medicine most familiar to Western society, was created by the Chinese government in the mid-20th century as an amalgamation of a handful of lineages. TCM is generally suspicious of the ancient philosophies and gives more importance to the modern scientific method. Though these two forms of Chinese medicine use similar types of treatments - acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, bodywork, herbal medicine, diet, lifestyle modification - CCM and TCM see the world and the human body differently. The following table illustrates some of these differences and helps to clarify the foundational concepts of CCM.
If you would like a more in-depth examination of the differences between CCM and TCM please see Chinese Medicine In Crisis: Science, Politics, and the Making of “TCM”, an article written by Heiner Fruehauf, where he elucidates the history and political environment surrounding the creation of TCM as well as drawing comparisons between the classical and modern approaches.