Self Care

Daoist Medicine

By Albert E PerryFeb 22, 2022

Daoist Medicine , mostly known as TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a system that I personally view as Classical Chinese Medicine. In this differentiation, I take look back on the body of work before Mao took over in the early 1950s. After the Mao era began the resulting classification as TCM was initiated. Both Classical and TCM traditions base themselves in the philosophy of the relationship of Nature and human beings, observing that humans are part of Nature and not separate.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) vs Daoyi (Taoist Medicine)

Chinese Medicine is rooted in Daoism (Taoism in Wade Giles), therefore I will reference it as Daoist Medicine. As one of the world’s oldest philosophies, Daoism has a long<img src="qiworkshealersbanner.png" alt="Qiworks Energy Medicine"> and full history, which goes back thousands of years. In that span of time, Daoism has left it’s influence within Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) originates from practitioners of Daoist Medicine. TCM is taught how Mao envisioned his band of “Barefoot Doctors” should administer healthcare to the masses. However, it bears little resemblance to the spiritually based, enigmatic and energetic root of it’s Mother, Taoist Medicine.  In the practice of Daoist Medicine, all levels of awareness are observed and treated:

Jing – which makes up the physical being.

Qi – which animates the physicality of the being while manifesting the emotional being.

Shen – which is refined Qi and comprises the spiritual and mental being.

Form vs Formless

Here we can break that down to treating the body that is form by using principles which treat the formless. The Daoist Medicine practitioner is then treating the whole being, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Daoist Medicine gives weight to what is classified in Western interpretation as a psycho-somatic cause of a particular disease.

The practitioner of Daoist Medicine gives importance to the principal that altering a thought pattern, thus also changing behavior, leads to impact the patient’s state of health or illness proactively. In other words, work on the issue that is the root cause of a disease, rather than the symptom, and the illness is more likely to be resolved.

Yin vs Yang

Fundamental principles of Yin and Yang, the two basic complementary energies of the manifest universe are vital when studying Daoist Medicine. This philosophy states that everything that the Universe manifested, is made up of a unique blend of the two forces of Yin and Yang. Yin is dense and still. Yang is ethereal and active.

A healthy body has a balance of yin and yang in each of it’s 5 phases. This balance expresses itself in many ways, but the most basic is the way that Qi (life force energy) either flows and nurtures, or stagnates in a pool and promotes disease and pain.

Two vital substances in our body, Qi and blood, are Yang and Yin in respect to each other. The nature of Blood is Yin. It is liquid, flowing, nurturing and has substance. Qi’s nature is Yang. It is active, energy, and ethereal. These two substances work with each other in synergy to balance our system.

Yin and Yang interact in the universe as opposing forces that work to create harmony. This teaches us that an opposing aspect doesn’t mean an enemy force.

Five Elements vs Five Phases

The Five Phase theory in Daoyi differentiates this dynamic into stages of existence. Each phase depicts a season as well as a phase in life, birth, growth, maturation, death, and rebirth. Movement through each phase reflects seasonal change as well as growth and demise. The 5 cycles are repeated and expressed in every aspect of the manifest universe.

Five Elements, in Daoist Medicine, are metaphors for the processes of nature. A more accurate title is “Five Phases”. This applies whether it be the cosmos, the earth or our own vehicle, our body.

So why did the Daoist thinkers choose these five symbols? Wouldn’t Air be a more fundamental element of the Universe than Wood and Metal? These ancient thinkers viewed Air as Qi. They equated breath with the energy of Qi. Therefore, to depict the behavior of Qi, and it’s energy, they chose the elements of wood and metal.

Nature as Daoist Medicine

Water flows down the terrain where it nurtures all plant species, depicted as the Wood element. Here they grow upwards towards the Sun (Fire), The sun eventually dries them and turns the plants into Earth from either their dried mass or ashes.

Over time, bacteria and fungi in this new soil changes the compost into life supporting minerals. Slowly it is compressed into stone, and crystallizes into palatable mineral deposits, depicted as the Metal element.

These minerals are then taken into the earths waterways by rainfall and absorbed into water, imbuing it with nutrients. This enriched water is then absorbed by plants, the Wood element and the entire cycle begins once more.

Five Phases as Energy Cycles

Here, we see the 5 Phases are representing energy cycles.

  • Water ~ Conserving

Winter’s element is water. All Nature moves down and inward as hibernation time has come. The days are at their shortest, Yin is full. Nature conserves its energy in this Yin season.

Any seeds from the fall harvest time stay hidden in the soil, awaiting the moment of awakening. As part of Nature, we might look at this season as a time to do less and conserve our energy.

  • Wood ~ Activates

Spring brings wood to life! Seeds open and life moves through the soil. The plant kingdom then pushes through the ground to reach for nourishing light. An expansion of energy moves up and out. The world is fresh with the celebration of life! This is the time to begin new projects.

  • Fire ~ Radiating full potential

Summer, represented by Fire, reveals that nature is alive and active! The days are long and filled with Light, Yang is at its fullest. Nature matures and its fruit ripens. Nature also recognizes that there is a subtle shift as the days, though abundant now with Light, are beginning to get shorter.

  • Earth ~ Stabilizing

Earth element’s season is at the end of summer. Nature is stable. The weather is fair and the food is harvested. Peace and contentment abound. There are no worries and the preparations begin for transition time.

  • Metal ~ Condensing

In the time of Autumn, the season of metal, nature starts it’s cool-down. Trees let go of their leaves to teach us to let go of things when you are finished with them.

The animal kingdom stores food to account for winter time. Here, life begins to withdraw, and concentrate, keeping only what is necessary for survival. Everything else is released.

In Conclusion

Taoist Medicine is full of metaphors depicting Nature. We can use those examples to keep our bodies, our physical vehicles, balanced so that we stay well. These bodies we inhabit are our vehicle to experience life and love. In addition, our body is our vehicle used to awaken to our purpose. Consider this the next time you are feeling out of balance.

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  1. I was very skeptical regarding these kind of Medicines and procedures. Used to think it wouldn´t work for myself, as I am pretty anxious. Thing is, I have a friend that began this journey about 2 years ago, and nowadays I am convinced it works. Her life totally changed, not only physically, but emotionally also. As you mention, our body is our vehicle, and when the vehicle is not working correctly, you are not able to go or be where you want/need… Thanks for putting into words what most of us think and for letting us get immersed in this untraditional medicine.

    1. Thanks, Jonny, I know it can be a reach to look at alternatives for traditional medicine, I think we should consider all traditions when making a choice for out body.

      Stay well and thrive!


  2. I was exposed to certain things like meditation for mental health. I read up on proper posture during meditation to increase the flow of chi. I did not go this deep into Traditional Chinese Medicine to know about the adaptions of the Daoist teachings.

    Combining one’s inner spirit with the elements is something I still practice. This is a real good way to find balance. I learned a lot from this article. 

  3. I have heard about Daoist medicine, but never understand what it is all about. Have you used Daoist medicine before yourself and how did you find it? Does it help for body aches? My back is very sore and I do not know how to resolve it. Will appreciate the assistance.

    1. Certainly, Bernard, Daoist Medicine can help with back pain or any pain. 

      Pain is a messenger. You have to understand what the message is, before the pain will leave. The pain isn’t the issue, it’s just telling you about the issue.

      I can’t solve your back pain by messages. I need to see someone in person.

      Look for someone who does classical Chinese Medicine in your area. They can probably help you.

      As for my own experience, I’m 33 years into it now.

      I didn’t find it, Ott found me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Good luck!


  4. The ancient traditional chinese medicine has been a very important aspect for growth and development. Chinese Medicine is well known all over the world. Millions of people around the world rely on the chinese medicines for the natural healing of the body. With the strong emphasis of the Five Phases as Energy Cycles – it brings up the live energy cycle within us. 

  5. Thanks for this article.

    I used to have a really weak immune system until started practicing taoism by master Mantak Chia.

    When I got both the governor and functional channel opened and could basic microcosmic breathing everything changed.

    Then i have had at advanced level a practioner can achieve sexual transmutation(i.e. have orgasms without ejaculation). I’m looking forward to reaching that level 


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      i’m glad to here you resonated with the article.

      Mantak Chia is a good resource.

      Stay well and keep thriving!


  6. Thanks for bringing me into the world of Daoist Medicine. I love your analogy of my body being a “vehicle”. It makes sense that if my vehicle is broken, I can’t use it for transportation. I was never skeptical about this type of medicine and procedures because as a little girl, my dad favored natural herbs for everything that ailed us. The West is only recently becoming cognizant of the East’s bountiful, natural remedies for all that ails us. Thanks for your post.  

    1. Thanks, Shalisha, for reading and commenting on this post.

      I’m happy you resonate with Taoist Medicine and its focus on natural healing.

      It’s great that your dad introduced you to natural medicine at a young age so that you’d be open to it!

      Stay well and thrive!


  7. Wow, impressive treatise. I must admit that I am having a difficult time following it all. I have had an avid interest in alternative forms of medicine and therapy for many years. In fact having studied, iridology, herbal medicine and essential Oils.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine is something I have wanted to understand better. When studying herbal medicine I was of course exposed to Chinese herbs which are frequently used. I believe that Naturopathy is a much better form of medicine than the traditional Allopathy practiced in most countries.

    I thank you for giving me a boost in this direction. I am going to endeavor to learn more. I appreciate it. and your obvious knowledge of this topic.

    1. Hi William!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

      Herbal medicine is one one the five branches of Chinese Medicine. Personally, I believe that herbal medicine works best when live out of the garden. The Qi is still vibrant.

      Daoist Medicine is energetic. Qigong is the toolbox and prescription for healing an issue. 

      Good luck on your healing journey!

      Keep thriving!


  8. This Daoist Medicine article is very enlightening. I particularly enjoyed the breakdown of the Daoyi levels of awareness. It is hard to believe that preemptively physical health can be changed or improved through thoughts. That is a remarkable concept. The five phases/energy cycles are very impressive as well.  It is fascinating to see how the seasons correspond to the elements.

    1. Thanks, Canty got taking the time to read and comment!

      Yes, as the seasons change we are affected as well. Off course we are because we are a part of Nature abd no separate!

      Thanks for resonating with Daoist Medicine!

      Stay well and keep thriving!


  9. Thanks Albert for this great information. All cultures have traditional medicine which were very effective in treating common disease.

    However, in some societies especially in Africa, the knowledge of those traditional medicine is disappearing as those who practice mostly keep the information as secret.

    1. Thanks, Aligo, for reading and commenting.
      That’s very sad that practitioners need to practice in secret! That is a true tragedy. We need to keep these traditions alive! Thanks for resonating with the article!
      To your health and keep thriving!

  10. This is fascinating. These Chinese medicines are ancient in age and have been carried on since man can remember, this in itself shows that there is an inherent truth & trust in the treatments. Ancient treatments from around the world often offer great benefits using natural principles rather than modern drugs.

    Ten years ago i visited Hong Kong with my wife, she was suffering from terrible period pains and pain killers were not helping, while we were there we visited a local Chinese medicine shop, an old lady gave my wife some sachets of what looked like dried herbs, she told my wife to steep them in hot water and to drink the liquid as it cooled.

    It tasted unpleasant BUT within a few hours the pains ceased and did not return, my wife took just one dose, the affects were staggering. We took a supply home with us and my wife always used them thereafter.


    1. Thanks, Michael, for taking the time to read and comment on this article.

      Thanks also for resonating with the five elements and Chinese Medicine.

      Stay well and thrive!


  11. I have been interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine for quite some time through my study of Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Also, I have friends that have been involved with it for many years. I appreciate the many reminders that you have provided and the details that you offered. I found the five elements and five phases as energy cycles especially enlightening.

    1. Thanks, Joseph, for taking the time to read and comment on this article.

      I’m happy you resonated with Daoist Medicine.

      Stay well and keep thriving!

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