The differences between eastern and western medicine are simple: the underlying assumptions, the methods of observation, and the technologies used to effect the desired result.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an intellectual construct giving shape and understanding of the universe based on observations made from a framework of a different kind of "knowing" than we have developed with the modem scientific method.
In the TCM view, perfection or goodwill is measured as balance. Imbalances cause imperfection or disease. Disease can be remedied by restoring balance. Diagnosis is a measure of balance /
imbalance, and the sources of the imbalances. Sources of imbalances causing disease are not simply organic in nature, but have roots in the Whole Being … body, mind, spirit. Each of the Whole Being's (body, mind, spirit) parts is influenced by the whole environment. Each part of this construct must be addressed in relieving disease.
The ORGANS of the body in TCM are not understood the way modem science understands them. Instead of seeing each organ as a type of tissue mass responsible for certain chemical processes, TCM seeks to know the process, and the effects of the processes have over the whole being.
In modem science it is assumed that an observer can not "see" the various forms of energy, only evidence that the energy is either present or has been present, or not. An example of this is a simple photograph, which is a record of light energy. It is not the light We can see the record of the light reflected back from the image, not the light itself. TCM asserts that we can "know" the light, we can "know" the energy of the processes. This assumption works in the matrix of the whole intellectual construct. This kind of "knowing" is based on acceptance rather than understanding.
The underlying assumption for determining and regulating balance is put very (overly) simply:
Each organ produces a qi, or energy, which supports or governs a function. The organ qi is transported along lines, or meridians, and can be accessed through the surface of the skin at "acupuncture" organ channel points. The various organisms' qi have qualities or "textures" which can be perceived, observed, (with training) and measured as being in excess or deficient. Each of the organs' balance is measured on both sides of the body, and these measurements, alongside other "symptoms" are used to determine the current condition, as well as the healing course of action. The organs' qi can be altered by "alchemy". The Five Elements Alchemy uses several processes and technologies to aid in the restoration of balance of energy in the whole organism.
The processes of Alchemy seek to restore balance by: 1. Emptying or Decreasing, 2. Building or Increasing, 3.Purifying or Cleansing, 4. Storing, and 5. Fusion or Transformation.
The technologies used to effect these processes are: Acupuncture, Herbal Remedy, Massage, and Qi Gong. Tai Chi, as practiced currently in the main, is a form of Qi Gong which accomplishes all 5 of these processes when practiced regularly.