Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is actually a synthesis of a number of important healing modalities invented in different parts of China over the millennia. These modalities include: Acupuncture and Moxibustion,Herbal Medicine, Tui Na or bodywork, Food Therapy,Feng Shui and Qigong. All of these seemingly disparate healing systems are unified by an underlying theoretical framework.
These concepts are not just theoretical, they are practical, may be diagnostic and suggest treatment principles. For example, a cat with a western biomedical diagnosis of hyperthyroidism would usually have a red tongue, thin body, high metabolic rate, and rapid pulse. These are Yang characteristics. TCVM treatment principles are based upon Heteropathy (treat to create the opposite condition that is diagnosed), so this Yang hyperthyroid cat would be benefited by Yin-nourishing Foods, Herbs, and Acupuncture and Feng Shui treatments. The Eight Principles are essentially an expansion of Yin and Yang to help us determine the Location, Quality, and Quantity of the animal's disharmony. We can ask : Where is the pathogenic factor in the body? Exterior or Interior?; What kind of pathogenic factor (Xie Qi) is present or how does the body respond to that factor? Hot or Cold?; and How strong is the pathogenic factor and how strong is the antipathogenic response (Zheng Qi)? Excess or Deficient? As with Yin and Yang, understanding a disease process with respect to the Eight Principles can help us consolidate our diagnosis and determine the correct heteropathic treatment. For example, we can release or clear the Exterior and harmonize the Interior, dispel Hot and warm the Cold, drain Excess and tonify Deficiency.
The Five Phases, or Five Elements as they are sometimes referred to in the West, describe a complex relationship between the organ and energetic systems of the body. Metaphorical correlations of our body systems, organs, tissues and even emotions with Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood phases can help us both treat current disharmonies and predict future problems unique to each individual. For example, the Wood Phase is correlated with pushy, easy to anger individuals, the Liver, the eyes, and the tendons and ligaments. So dogs such as Rottweilers with “Wood-Type” personalities are prone to ocular problems and ligament and tendon tears. We can also understand which types of herbs and foods may benefit such an animal and either help them heal more rapidly or even prevent such problems from occurring based upon the Generative Cycle between the Five Phases.You can see that TCVM has a few important advantages over conventional medicine. This is not to say that conventional western medicine is not good, it just has problems with truly diagnosing what is wrong with each individual animal with respect to their energetics. Conventional medicine is excellent at making anatomical or structural diagnoses, but currently lacks the finesse of TCVM with respect to functional problems in the body. Understanding Yin and Yang, the Eight Principles and the Five Phases offers us a new level of both diagnosis and treatment opportunities.
The theoretical framework which brings unity to TCVM is based upon the concepts of Yin and Yang, the Eight Principles, the Five Phases and the Zang Fu organ systems of the body. Yin and Yang are the most fundamental principles. Yin refers to the dark, moist, cool, consolidating, nourishing aspects of the universe and thus the body. Yang suggests the light, dry, warm, expansive and energetic aspects of the body.