Updated on 2 August 2012
TCM has been growing at a pace faster than the average rate of the entire Chinese pharmaceutical industry
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a more than 3,000-year-old medicinal practice whose doctrines are rooted in ancient books such as the Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon and the Treatise on Cold Damage, as well as in cosmological notions like yin-yang and the five phases. Starting in the 1950s, these precepts were modernized in the People's Republic of China so as to integrate many anatomical and pathological notions from scientific medicine.
It comprises a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts and includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (Tui na), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy. However, many of its assumptions, including the model of the body, or concept of disease, are not supported by modern evidence-based medicine. TCM diagnosis consists in tracing symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, mainly by palpating the pulse and inspecting the tongue.
About 95 percent of general hospitals in China have traditional medicine departments and formal TCM training is an integral part of the national health program. There are more than 253,233 registered TCM doctors and assistant doctors across the country. According to data published by the Shandong University, hospitals practicing TCM treat more than 200 million out-patients and almost three million in-patients annually.
The popularity of TCM in China can be estimated from the fact that the number of proprietary TCM medicines that featured on the national essential medicines list in 2010 was 102, which is quite substantial as compared to the 205 proprietary Western medicines on the list. Moreover, health insurance schemes cover TCM diagnostic and therapeutic services in China.
TCM has been growing at a pace faster than the average rate of the entire Chinese pharmaceutical industry. The size of the TCM market is estimated to be close to $30 billion. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the cumulative sales value of the TCM industry is increasing at an annual rate of 23 percent.