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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 1 (2004), Issue 1, Pages 35-40

Functional Somatic Syndromes: Emerging Biomedical Models and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health, Department of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, USA

Received 19 December 2003; Accepted 24 February 2004

Copyright © 2004 Steven Tan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The so-called functional somatic syndromes comprise a group of disorders that are primarily symptom-based, multisystemic in presentation and probably involve alterations in mind-brain-body interactions. The emerging neurobiological models of allostasis/allostatic load and of the emotional motor system show striking similarities with concepts used by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to understand the functional somatic disorders and their underlying pathogenesis. These models incorporate a macroscopic perspective, accounting for the toll of acute and chronic traumas, physical and emotional stressors and the complex interactions between the mind, brain and body. The convergence of these biomedical models with the ancient paradigm of TCM may provide a new insight into scientifically verifiable diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for these common disorders.