The main difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine lies in its view of how to deal with illness. In Western medicine, specific drugs are sought to correct specific disease states and are evaluated for how effective they are for specific conditions. These drugs are subject to safety concerns due to the risk of side effects from chemicals that are "new" to our bodies.

Chinese medicine, on the other hand, sees a disease condition as the result (or manifestation) of "imbalances" within the body, or between the body and various environmental factors. The aim of Chinese medicine is not to prescribe an herbal agent to treat a particular manifestation, but to help the patient's stressed systems operate in a more natural, balanced state.