Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) is distinguished from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in a number of ways. Please note that TCM is the type of CM known (and used) by many people in the Western world, as well as in China.

The first and most fundamental difference between CCM and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that the former draws most deeply from the Classical literature of CM when interacting with patients. The intake process, the patient-doctor interaction, the methods used for diagnosis and the form of the diagnosis, the application of acupuncture, herbs and other modalities, the reasoning out of prognosis – all of these should be primarily (if not completely) based on Classical sources and their most faithful commentaries. TCM, although it does pay attention to the Classics – and some TCM practitioners take it on themselves to delve more deeply into the canon – does not rely primarily on these sources in its practice.

What are these Classics?

Most people would agree that the Huang Di Nei Jing 皇帝內經 (Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic), the Nan Jing 難經 (Classic of Difficulties) and the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing 神 農 本 草 經 (Divine Farmer’s Herbal Classic) and the Shang Han Lun 傷寒論 (Treatise on Cold Damage) are the foundational texts of this medicine.  All of these books were written during or before the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD).

CCM simply takes its historical and cultural roots very seriously. It pays attention to the fact that many medical classics thought it of vital importance that practitioners cultivate themselves using the arts, contemplation, interaction with nature and various esoteric practices. It asserts that the Classical texts are not the mistaken ramblings of a primitive people but a record of (parts of) a sophisticated medical system that has vital relevance for contemporary people.

CCM does not make its primary aim to justify itself in the language and method of Western scientific materialism. It does not sacrifice the knowledge that comes from grappling with difficult, often symbolic, literature for the sake of quick and easy one-size-fits-all treatment protocols.