Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the practice of applying ancient Chinese techniques to treat a wide range of conditions. TCM is partially based on the Taoist belief that everything in the universe is interconnected, which includes the human body’s systems working together to keep the body functioning. TCM believes that each person was born with the ability to heal themselves. Through the use of Traditional Chinese healing forms, TCM practitioners are able to recharge the self-healing functions in the body. The concept of Qi is also important within TCM practices. Qi (pronounced "chee") is the vital energy force that flows through points, or meridians, in our bodies.

Origins in History
Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medical practices in the history of the world and has been dated back to 2,000 B.C. Today TCM encompasses several practices to help patients maintain health and wellness, including adjunctive techniques (such as acupuncture), massage, diet and lifestyle, herbal medicine, meditation, and exercise.

Varieties/Types

There are a multitude of treatments that fall under the heading of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is best to consult a TCM specialist for treatment recommendations and details. Here are some of the more commonly used treatments:

Acupressure
Acupressure uses hand techniques and tools to stimulate acupoints and meridians. Some think of acupressure as acupuncture without the needles. Acupressure is said to be effective on sports injuries or sprains. Using acupressure with acupuncture can accelerate healing.

Acupuncture
Please see our article all about Acupuncture, which is a core practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine!

Herbal Therapy
TCM herbal therapy uses natural materials to help heal the human body. Often herbs are combined and work together with each herb performing a specific role to achieve wellness and healing. The TCM pharmacological reference book, materia medica, has hundreds of substances classified by their action in the body. Herbs are mostly given in pill, powder or tea form.

Qigong
Qigong is a practice that uses movements and postures to work in your body at your energy level. Qigong breaks energy blockage and helps to free the flow of energy throughout your body. Repeated practice of Qigong is important in order to feel its immune-boosting effects.

Therapeutic Massage (Tui Na)
Traditional Chinese massage is different from the standard musculoskeletal massage that most people are more familiar with. Practitioners work with the meridian system and are able to treat a number of internal maladies such as hypertension, peptic ulcers, and constipation, to name a few.

What is care like?

Health Benefits
Because there are a wide range of practices that fall under Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are a wide range of health benefits that can result from such modalities. A TCM practitioner can function as your ongoing healthcare provider, supporting healing for both acute and chronic conditions.

Actions & Experiences During a Session
Your experience with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner will vary dependent upon which treatment you would like to try, or which treatment is recommended for you by the practitioner. As always, be sure to make the practitioner aware of any medical conditions or problems you may be having prior to beginning a course of treatment, as well as any medications you may be taking.

Resources & References

How Stuff Works: Traditional Chinese Medicine

NCCAM - TCM

Acupuncture Today: The ABCs of Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM World

What next?

Search Find Wellness to find certified TCM practitioners in your area. When you book an appointment make sure that you find someone with an Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), particularly in acupuncture, Chinese herbology and Oriental bodywork. This accreditation means they are licensed and qualified to provide medical advice.