Traditional Chinese Medicine
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) ?
TCM is a complete system of health care that has been developed over a period of 5000 years in China, and treats over a quarter of the world’s population. It has its own unique theories of anatomy and health, and treatment focuses on stimulating the body’s natural curative powers through the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, nutritional therapy and massage.
At the root of traditional Chinese medicine is the belief that the individual (microcosm) is viewed as an integral part of the forces of nature (macrocosm). In TCM, both philosophically and medically, moderation in all things are advocated, as is living in harmony with nature and striving for balance in all things. Disease is also considered to be evidence of the failure of preventive health care and a falling out of balance or harmony.
The TCM physician believes in treating every patient differently, based on the notion that one does not treat the disease or condition but rather the individual patient. Thus two people with the same complaint may be treated entirely differently, if their constitutions and life situations are dissimilar.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A CONSULTATION?
TCM diagnosis aims to trace symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, by measuring the pulse, inspecting the tongue, skin, and eyes, and looking at the eating and sleeping habits of the patient as well as many other things.
TCM offers a very humane, patient-oriented approach that encourages a high degree of practitioner-patient interaction. During the important first visit, the practitioner will conduct four types of examinations, all extremely observational and all quite different from what patients usually experience.
First, the practitioner will ask many questions, going beyond the typical patient history to inquire about such particulars as eating and bowel habits or sleep patterns. Next, the physician looks at the patient, observing his or her complexion and eyes, while also examining the tongue very closely, as this is another barometer of health in where different areas of the tongue can reflect the functioning of different body organs. Finally feeling the wrist to take up to six different pulses. Altogether, these essentially methods of diagnosis will lead the physician to differentiate the underlying TCM pattern, so that the most suitable course of treatment can be applied.
After making a diagnosis, the physician will suggest a course of treatment from one or all of the available TCM methods. These fall into four main categories: herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and massage and exercise.
Acupuncture is based on the notion that the body’s vital energy force (Qi), travels through pathways known as channels or “meridians.” The acupuncturist inserts tiny, thin sterile needles at particular, selected Acu-points on the body to assist in the unblocking or correcting the flow of energy. These needles are hardly felt as they are inserted and are left in place for about 15 to 20 minutes. Most patients fall asleep, due to its incredibly relaxing effect.
According to WHO (World Health Organization) Acupuncture is found to be effective for treating 28 conditions, while evidence indicates it may have an effective therapeutic value for many more.
How does Acupuncture work? Read more.
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
A typical TCM prescription consists of a complex variety of many different herbal and mineral ingredients. Chinese herbal remedies are intended to assist the body’s own restorative function, by treating the underlying TCM pattern that forms the foundation of the dis-ease. Herbal formulas are prescribed in different forms, ranging from teas, to pill and granular form, which are chosen according to the patient’s needs.
Moxibustion is the slow burning on or over the body of special herbal “cones.” These are placed on specific acupoints and provide penetrating, relaxing heat. Moxibustion warms and opens the channels.
Moxa is produced from the dried and compressed leaves of the mugwort or Ai Ye plant. Moxibustion is used to strengthen the body’s vitality and stimulate its natural capacity to heal and can be used to treat various diseases, disorders, and pain.
Moxibustion and Acupuncture are often paired and complement each other to form one mode of therapy, boosting the overall therapeutic effect.
Clinically it increases blood cell counts especially that of white blood cells which strengthens the immune system. The heat produced from the burning moxa penetrates deeply into underlying tissues improving circulation and helping to reduce both pain and inflammation. If done properly, the heat of the Moxibustion can penetrate into the core of the pain location and can have results far surpassing that of pain medication. It requires patience, but with long-term application of Moxibustion it is possible to revitalize tissue that has had almost irreversible damage. The Parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relax mode) is stimulated with Moxibustion Therapy leading to an increase in appetite, digestion, and bowel function, while reducing stress and sleeplessness and balancing hormonal function.
What is cupping?
An ancient therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along the channels of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating the flow of blood and energy.
What types of conditions is cupping used for?
Cupping has been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins. Cupping helps the system to balance blood sugar, iron, cholesterol, calcium, blood pressure and hormones.
Cupping brings fresh blood to the area so it tends to improve circulation. It also helps to open up the chest and arteries and benefits the lungs and can even benefit menstrual problems and digestive problems, too. Most commonly its used for aches and pains of various types as well as respiratory problems, cough, wheezing, high blood pressure, arthritis, stress, gout, pinched nerves, skin diseases and over 72 types of diseases relating to the blood system.
CHINESE DIETARY THERAPY
Traditional Chinese Dietary Therapy is its own extensive body of knowledge that has its foundations firmly rooted in TCM theory.
For example, in TCM, Raw food is considered to be COLD in nature, meaning that it ‘cools’ your body down internally. This may therefore be more suitable for consumption in summer times or if you have a ‘Yang’ nature, meaning you feel hot naturally, perspire easily, and show other signs of ‘internal heat’. But, by the same token, these ‘Cold’ foods may aggravate an internal disharmony in a body type that feels very cold normally, and lacking proper circulation. Beyond this simplistic example, different foods also have the function of tonifying and strengthening certain organs, the blood system or restoring body fluids.
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