Traditional Chinese Medicine
Find Your Element
Harmonising your Wu Xing elements
Centuries ago, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine identified the 5 Wu Xing elements whose harmony was essential for one's physical and emotional wellbeing.
learn more
It's one of our goals at Chuan that not only do we offer a place for you to enjoy wonderful, revitalising treatments, but also to function as a forum and learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its role within the spa environment today.

We will update this section on a regular basis. If you have any comments or questions, do let us know.

History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Bian Que, also named Tai Yue Ren, is the most ancient of physicians practicing traditional Chinese herbal medicine. He was reputed to be an excellent diagnostician, excelling in pulse taking and acupuncture therapy. Han Dynasty physicians claimed to have studied his works on traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, which have since been lost.

One day, Bian Que heard about the death of the queen of Hu state (today's Shaanxi province in China) . He felt very sad, and decided to go to the palace. He found the queen's inner thighs were not yet cold, and diagnosed her as a "fake death". Under his care, the queen recovered fully. Thus, Bian Que received the title "The doctor who brings back life from the dead". From that day on, Bian Que became a doctor that received the same level of respect as a god. Due to his extraordinary skills in medicine, after his death. people named him as the spiritual doctor Bian Que.

One of the more interesting Chinese doctors was Wang Qingren who was famous in two areas of medicine. First, he promoted the importance of accurately understanding anatomy in order to diagnose and treat disease. Dissection and surgery had been all but ignored since the time of Hua Tuo (110-207 AD), and traditional Chinese doctors focused on a projected idea of the internal organs. Wang said that "attempting healing without knowing the internal organs" was akin to a blind man walking in the dark. He strongly promoted the idea that many diseases were due to blood stasis. By activating blood circulation, and clearing away the static blood, one could resolve even the most serious disease. His blood-vitalising formulas are still used extensively today.

Thus, the link can be seen clearly when looking at the Jing Luo or meridians within the body, which are the pathways for circulation that carry Qi and blood. A Chuan massage, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupressure techniques, is an ideal way to unblock these pathways, which in turn helps to restore balance in the body, and relieve any abnormal physiological functions in one or more parts of the internal system.

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang is the ancient Chinese philosophical framework that underpins Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with the first recorded evidence of the relationship appearing in about 700 BC.

Yin and Yang theory embodies the idea of the existence of two opposite aspects within any natural phenomenon. The ancient Chinese observed this principle of opposites in their natural environment, such as day and night, waking and sleeping, heat and cold, and so on.

The terms Yin and Yang are therefore used to express any two mutually complementary and opposing subjects and phenomena.

It is important to understand that although Yin and Yang are opposites, they are not absolute. They are relative to each other, being infinitely divisible and interdependent, with one being able to be consumed by the other, as well as being able to transform each other. This is reflective in the Yin and Yang symbol:

The application of the Yin and Yang philosophy to understand the human body purports that normal physiological functions are dependent on the kinetic balance between two kinds of forces: Yin and Yang. Once either of these forces becomes excessive or deficient, the human body will lose its balance, thereby becoming dysfunctional.

TCM treatments focus on regaining this balance, in order to restore normal human physiological function in one or more parts, or the whole internal system.

The Five Elements (Wu Xing)

The theory of Wu Xing dates back to the 16th Century V 221 BC, being derived from ancient observations of the natural world. The ancient masters recognised that the Five Elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, were indispensable materials for the maintenance of life and production. They saw food reliant on water and fire, production requiring metal and wood, and earth was seen to give birth to all matters. According to this theory, everything in the natural environment results from the movement and changes among these five basic elements.

Based on this relationship of the Five Elements, coupled with other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories, Chinese medicine practitioners employ these models to assist in describing normal physiology functions, pathological states, facilitating diagnosis states, treatment principles, diet modification and lifestyle changes.

Chuan Spa treatments and products are guided by the Five Elements theory. The Five Element questionnaire will assist you in identifying basic disharmonies amongst the five elements, which will then direct you, along with the sensory testing, to the appropriate Chuan product to be used during your treatment.

However, the questionnaire is not intended to be used by Chuan Spa therapists when conducting a Chinese medicine diagnosis, or to classify you as, for example, an 'Earth Element'.

Only a registered Chinese medicine practitioner is qualified to make such diagnosis. In addition, although the Five Element theory is a very useful tool, TCM views it as a relatively 'rigid' system that needs to be applied with flexibility in practice. Consequently, labeling a guest as a 'particular element' is also seen as too rigid and misguided as a client's element can vary on any given day. Thus, Chuan spa treatments based on TCM theory and products are tailored to support our clients' predominant element disharmony at the point of consultation.

Qi & Blood, Jing Luo (Meridians)

TCM views the musculoskeletal system as part of the external body. Qi and blood are considered to control the musculoskeletal function as they circulate through the external body within the Jing Luo or meridian system. Qi and blood can be manipulated through the stimulation of acupoints, located along or near the meridians.

Qi & Blood

Qi and blood relate to Yang and Yin respectively. Qi is described as being a vital energy while blood is a vital substance, both of which rely on each other for their existence.

Qi is responsible for bodily sensations and movement, and is described in terms of its various functions. This includes warming the body, acting as our defense system, being involved in production, distribution and containment of blood and body fluids, and holding the organs in their correct positions. In contrast, blood is the source of nourishment for the whole body, flowing to all parts to fulfill its nourishing role. When the Qi and blood flow becomes obstructed, muscular tension, stiffness or pain results.

Chuan Spa treatments support the free flow of Qi and blood through the stimulation of acupoints and the meridian system, thereby assisting in the reduction of muscular pain and tension, and inducing the relaxation response.

Jing Luo (Meridians)

In the philosophy of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Meridians are the pathway of circulation that carries Qi and blood throughout the body. They circulate externally along superficial parts of the body, connecting one end to the other, and are distributed internally, connecting all the organs and associated structures.

The meridian system allows for the integration of the body's functions above / below, inside / outside. There are 12 meridians in the body that flow bilaterally with a further two: one is located on the centre line of the front, and another on the centre line of the back, making a total of 14 main meridians.

The names of the 14 meridians are

Lung (Lu.) Large Intestine (L.I.)
Stomach (St.) Spleen (Sp.)
Heart (Ht.) Small Intestine (S.I.)
Bladder (BL.) Kidney (Ki.)
Pericardium (Pc.) San Jiao (S.J.)
Gall Bladder (G.B.) Liver (Liv.)
Conception Vessel (C.V.) (or Ren Channel) Governing Vessel (G.V.) (or Du Channel)

Stimulation and activation of the meridian system can be achieved through various techniques, such as Chinese massage, stone therapy, heat application, acupuncture, moxa, cupping, exercise, food therapy and Chinese herbal medicine.


Acupoints (also referred as acupuncture or acupressure points) are located along or near the meridian. They are placed where the Qi gathers intensity, and can be strongly influenced and manipulated for their healing effects.

There are 361 points located on the 14 meridians, with many more located off these meridians known as extra points.