The earliest compilation of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory is the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, written around the 1st century BCE. Unlike many of the earlier medical works in China, the Inner Canon based its theories on the relationship and interactions between the body, its environment, and the cosmos as potential causes of disease and illness, rather than magic and spirits. However, Chinese Medicine does not focus directly on anatomical structures or even a specific organ’s function, but rather places an emphasis on general bodily functions—in other words, related functions that may not be done by one organ in Western medicine are grouped together in Chinese Medicine as being presided over by meridian. There are 12 meridians with acupoints distributed along, and each meridian connects with organ. These 12 meridians function in harmony and balance to keep the body in normal condition. Thus, disease is also related to the disharmony of the systems in addition to the balance of yin and yang energies, and it is the job of the practitioner to find where the body is imbalanced and to correct the balance.
Chinese Medicine is popular as an alternative therapy in the US and has been gaining rapid ground since the 1990s. The NIH has estimated that about 10,000 practitioners treated 1 million patients in 1997, and that number has risen to 3.1 million patients who had at least tried acupuncture in 2006. According to the same survey for 2006, around 17% of adults used natural products such as herbs, and more than one-third of acupuncture patients at large acupuncture clinics received Chinese herb prescriptions at those clinics.