One of the arguments against Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as other traditional medicines is that the terminology is archaic. The lack of commonly used medical terminology is seen as proof that there is no science behind these systems of medicine. This concept is incorrect for several reasons.
All areas of human study develop terminology that is specific to that endeavor. Lawyers speak in “legal-eze”, Military use a military lingo, every industry has terminology specific to to that industry. Many of these terms are archaic re-use of common terms. A common example is the use of the term “spam” to mean junk emails rather than a processed pork product.
Medicine is not immune the the use of archaic terminology. Terms based on “latin-ized” words are common. Every pharmaceutical has multiple names, usually the chemical description name, the shorter drug name used by researchers and the name used in marketing the drug to the public. Many diseases and body parts, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and fallopian tubes are named not by a scientific naming system but by a name of a person associated with the disease or structure.
Traditional medicines have many ways of describing what is going on in the body and those descriptions are as tied to the understanding of that medicine as anti-depressants are tied to the Biomedical understanding of depression. The fact that TCM uses terms like “fire” and “earth” as metaphorical descriptors, is no more unscientific than Biomedical medicine using the term “syndrome”
Terminology is a way of passing information. Words used as metaphors to explain a concept need to be specific to the system which they are used to describe. Scientific concepts transcend the words used to describe them. The use of archaic terms do not make biomedical medicine unscientific any more than TCM terminology makes TCM unscientific. While inaccurate translations of concepts can be made. The use of biomedical terms to describe TCM concepts (or vice-versa) makes as much sense as using military lingo to draft a legal document.