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[ PDF ] Theory of prevention
In its long course of development, TCM has established a perfect theory of prevention based on the theories of yin-yang, five elements, qi-blood-body fluid, meridians, cause of disease and pathogenesis, still effectively guiding medical practice now. The core of this theory is prevention and therapeutic principles.
TCM pays great attention to prevention and takes prevention as the essential one of therapeutic principles, emphasizing the role of reinforcing healthy qi and eliminating pathogenic factors in restoring balance between yin and yang. With full consideration of individual, local and seasonal conditions, it has established an effective system of therapeutic methods.
Principles of prevention
Prevention means to take measures to prevent the occurrence and development of disease. The principles of prevention in TCM cover two aspects: theory and methods.
Theory of prevention
Importance of prevention
TCM gives prevention the priority over treatment. Before the occurrence of a disease or at the primary stage of a disease, it is important to take measures in advance to avoid suffering or aggravation, which is helpful for protecting healthy qi and maintaining health. Though correct and timely treatment can eliminate pathogenic factors, restore healthy qi and cure disease, the attack of any disease inevitably damages healthy qi or causes sequelae. Up to now there are still some diseases incurable or irreversible. So no matter how excellent therapeutic methods are, they must be used as the last resort. That is why Huangdi Neijing says that "the best doctors are those who can prevent the occurrence of disease". It believes that resorting to treatment when disease has already occurred is just like drilling a well when one feels thirsty and manufacturing weapons when war has already broken out.
The theoretical basis of the principles of prevention
The principles of prevention are decided according to etiopathology and the transmission of pathogenesis in TCM. Etiopathology in TCM holds that the occurrence of disease results from insufficiency of healthy qi and attack of pathogenic factors, among which insufficiency of healthy qi is the key factor responsible for the onset of disease. That is why the principles of prevention in TCM pays attention to both the protection and cultivation of healthy qi and avoidance of the invasion of pathogenic factors. According to transmission of pathogenesis, disease transmits among the viscera when it has emerged. The regions and organs that are weakened or insufficient of healthy qi tend to be affected. That is why the principles of prevention advocate early treatment and control of transmission.
The guiding ideology of the principles of prevention
Emphasis on holistic concept
The human body forms an integrated wholeness in itself and with the external environment. That is why TCM emphasizes both the harmonious relationship between the body and external environment and the interrelationships between the viscera and the meridians.
Emphasis on the protective effect of healthy qi
Among various preventive measures, the protection and cultivation of healthy qi is the most important one.
Emphasis on the integration of the body and the mind
The concept of health includes health of the body and health of the mind. Since psychological factors play a very important role in etiopathology, TCM gives psychological regulation and cultivation the priority over other preventive measures.