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October 2022

Am J Chin Med. 1992 ; 20(2): 191-4.

Comments on nomenclature in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bao K.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425-0742.

The present article suggests that the nomenclature used in traditional Chinese medicine is currently unclear resulting in improper usage of terms and subsequent confusion. This paper is an attempt to clarify this nomenclature confusion. Traditional medicine of China should be called "traditional Chinese medicine" (T.C.M.) rather than the frequently used "Chinese medicine". The latter term fails to express the "tradition" associated with T.C.M., and also it does not distinguish between T.C.M. and modern Chinese medicine. "Oriental medicine", another frequently used term for T.C.M., has the same kind of shortcomings. The true colors of T.C.M. should be restored. The author also notes that "herb", "herbology" or "herbal medicine" is not synonymous with traditional Chinese materia medica. Herbal medicine is a type of folk medicine whereas traditional Chinese materia medica is a formal branch of traditional Chinese medicine. Furthermore, the author suggests that "acupunctology" be used when referring to the science of acupuncture whereas "acupuncture" should be used with reference to a method or perhaps the therapy of needling.

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