Traditional Chinese Medicine has evolved over the years just as everything else in this world has, but a large majority of the principles and practices have remained the same. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners make use of herbal medicines, along with mind and body techniques such as Tai Chi and acupuncture in preventing and treating health issues.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the US is primarily used as a complementary health approach, with few people understanding the overwhelming benefits that can be derived from a greater understanding of these practices. Based on the 2007 NHIS, an estimated 2.3 million Americans practice Tai Chi, while more than 600,000 practice Qi Gong.
These numbers show that even over the last decade Traditional Chinese Medicines has not made an overwhelming impact in methodology and usage in America.
Basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the ancient beliefs that:
- The vital energy that flows through the body is Qi, and it carries out multiple functions in order to maintain the health of the body.
- The human body is just a miniature representation of the larger and surrounding universe.
- The five elements: earth, wood, metal fire and water and these five elements symbolically represent all phenomena, including stages of human life. They also explain the functions of the body, and its response when affected with a disease.
- Harmony between two opposing, yet, complementary forces known as Yin and Yang, supports health. Disease in any form is a result of an imbalance between these two forces.
What is Chinese Medicine?
Chinese medicine has survived and evolved throughout history, due to its stable background and holistic approaches. Chinese medicine has slowly but surely gained acceptance in Western countries as the 21st Century has advanced, with users reporting large amounts of success with differing treatments. One of the major advantages that Western people have found is that it is a very different form of medicine and treatment, one that is not aggressive but extremely preventive and natural.
Effective results are obtained both quickly and easily, with long-term benefits arising as well. Chinese medicine is a holistic medicine because it not only what happens in the body, but also what happens throughout the body.
Instead of looking for one acute cause of a disease or illness, Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses just as much on how a disease is able to manifest itself within your body, and how it responds to different external influences and environmental stimuli.
Major Therapeutic Techniques of Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture is a technique based on the insertion of very fine needles into specific areas or points on the surface of the skin. These points are called acupoints and are highly energetic. They are located along the route of the meridian channels, through which energy flows in the body called Qi. Acupuncture is often used for reducing inflammation in a certain area of the body, and releasing stress and pressure. The Chinese use this in a variety of ways, opting for treatment like this instead of medicine in many instances.
Phytotherapy is based on the use of medicinal plants for the treatment of certain physiological disorders, and also the treatment of pathological conditions.
These medicinal plants are used in the same premises as all Chinese medicine and take into account the necessary balance of the Theory of Yin and Yang, the theory of the Five Elements, the previous diagnosis and finally the application of the therapeutic principle of differentiation of syndromes. Even with phytotherapy, plants and herbs are not used to directly attack disease or illness. The focus is always on building the body so that it is able to rid itself of disease, as well its natural protections against future attacks.
One of the most commonly known forms of this is drinking green tea or other teas. Quality tea can do more for your body than you would ever imagine. Try switching out your pre-workout products or Starbucks’s coffee for quality tea each day and see the difference in your overall body!
Tai Chi is a mind and body practice that has lasted and grown through centuries of practice, involving gentle body movement (similar to a dance), with a strong mental focus placed on relaxation and breathing. The mental focus required, itself, is enough to improve the overall condition of anyone’s body.
Tai Chi is considered a moving meditation, and for hundreds of years’ people in China have used Tai Chi as health-maintenance exercise. Practicing Tai Chi has proven successful in preventing arthritis, heart diseases, stress and improving the coordination of both body and mind.
Tai chi’s smooth and harmonious movements make it an ideal exercise for convalescent patients and elderly people.
Often simply called acupuncture as well; moxibustion is often combined with acupuncture in the same energy points. The inherent goal of moxibustion is the application of heat in the same acupoints. Moxibustion receives its name from the plant “Moxa,” which is burned on or near the skin during the practice of this. The combination of traditional acupuncture and moxibustion has been very successful in treating diseases even as deadly as cancer!
Acupuncture needles are regulated by FDA as medical devices, and needles that areg used for such treatments should be sterile, non-toxic, and they should be labeled for single use exclusively by medical practitioners.
Western medicine has yet to fully deem all of the practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine as safe, although history has shown great success with many of their methods. Although some of their practices are assuredly unsafe to practice without proper guidance, Traditional Chinese Medicine offers some incredibly healing choices and beneficial methodology for any and all of us!