No. 4 is well known to be an unlucky number because 四 sounds similar to 死 (sǐ), which means "death" in Chinese. Did you know that if you press a Chinese elevator button to go to the 50th floor of a building, you may actually only be going to the 35th floor? This is because many buildings in China not only omit the 13th floor, but are also missing any floor containing the number 4, which is considered to be the unluckiest number in Chinese culture. The Chinese have many superstitions about numbers, often related to similar-sounding words in the Chinese language, which are called homophones.
China Expats and Culture Blog
Can you imagine sticking needles all over your body, using jars to create bruises on your back, or scraping your skin with a ceramic spoon to cure sickness? These are all common practices in traditional Chinese medicine that are believed to help cure illness. Traditional Chinese medicine dates back to over 2,000 years ago and encompasses various therapy techniques including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and massage.
Traditional Chinese medicine revolves around the notion that qi, the body’s vital energy, flows through meridians, which are paths that connect major organs and bodily functions. Qi is affected by yin and yang, a Chinese concept also mentioned in our post about inflammation and colds in Chinese medicine. Yin and yang, loosely translated as “shady” and “sunny” respectively, are complementary forces that interact in all aspects of life. Qi manifests itself through yin and yang; in order to have optimal health, the amount of yin and yang in the body must be in harmony.
Another principle traditional Chinese medicine relies upon is the 五行 (wǔ xíng), or “five elements” theory. This theory breaks the universe down into five elements: metal (金 jīn), wood (木 mù), water (水 shuǐ),fire (火 huǒ), and earth (土 tǔ). These aspects of the five elements theory are used in applying therapy techniques, as each element of wu xing corresponds to a pair of organs in the body.
There is some controversy surrounding traditional Chinese medicine, due to the lack of rigorous scientific evidence proving whether or not the methods work. Nevertheless, traditional Chinese medicine is quite prevalent in Chinese-speaking countries today, and has also become a well-known form of alternative medicine all over the world due to its historical and cultural roots. Therapy techniques focus on regulating bodily functions through easing tension and improving circulation.
Here is an overview of a few different types of therapy techniques used in Chinese medicine:
Planning your next trip to China? One of our top reasons to learn Chinese is to open yourself to more travel opportunities, as China is home to some of the most unique and culturally significant places in the world.
But whether you want to visit the Forbidden City, climb the Great Wall, or go backpacking in the mountains of Guilin, our list of essentials will help you navigate the humid climate.