Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a style of traditional medicine informed by modern medicine but built on a foundation of more than 2,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (Tui Na), exercise (Qi Gong), and dietary therapy.
One of the most important aspect of TCM is in its initial diagnosis. When a client first visits a TCM practitioner, the diagnosis already starts from the moment the client walks in the door. A good practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine will judge the client as a whole. Perceiving how the client carries him or herself, whether they are tired, or full of energy, and judging what possible archetype the person is by categorizing them into 1 of 5 possible elements. Each elemental archetype has its own positive and negative quality that can effect the type of treatment that will be used.
Once the session officially commences, the TCM practitioner acts as an investigator asking several questions that will lead him to a deeper understanding of the dis-balance the client has come with. The questions range from specifics of the ‘problem’ such as when, where, and how it occurred, to seemingly unrelated questions such as sleep quality, nutritional habits, emotional state, preference to heat or cold, or even the quality and consistency of stools or menstruation. For the TCM practitioner knows that everything is interrelated. Just as the individual seeking help has used his or her mind, body, and intuition to find their doctor or healer the acupuncturist knows not to label or prejudge their client. We are born as a whole, and while western-modern medicine has taught us to dissect on a micro/macro scale to better define their understanding, they lose their understanding of associations. After the questions have finished, then we use pulse and tongue diagnosis to add another piece to the puzzle that will formulate the overall picture of what to treat first.
Most problems can be solved by focusing on the inter-related dependences of the internal organs and finding the right balance between the weakest and strongest ‘organ’. When you are ‘sick’ with the common ‘cold’, a virus that has been around as long as man himself it does not just affect your nose, throat, or lungs, but your whole organism. Your whole body has to conserve energy and divert it to producing more anti-bodies, regeneration, and recovery. That in turn can weaken your kidneys, heart, and metabolism. Yet after so many centuries of ‘fighting’ off the cold we are still here. Because our bodies are very good at defending themselves. Therefore, according to traditional Chinese medicine the best approach is not to attack the virus, but rather to strengthen your ‘organs’ so that they can find their balance and eliminate the threat on their own. In turn, your immune system will be stronger and able to recover quicker so that next time your body will be able to fend of for itself.
As mentioned above, traditional Chinese medicine offers 5 main pillars of treatment. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Tui Na massage, and Qi Gong. Ideally, a combination of all 5 is most effective.
Acupuncture is used to stimulate local and distal points that effect the body’s energy system using 3 main principles: A) break ‘stagnation’ that interrupts the natural flow, B) dispel ‘excess’ energy in a particular area, and C) ‘invigorate’ areas of ‘low’ energy.
Chinese herbs can help give the ‘organs’ what they need using powerful balanced formulas so that they can operate at their full potential. Each formula is comprised of herbs that neutralize each others’ negative effects and to have a full synergy ailment to the effected areas.
Qi Gong is a TCM system of exercise and meditation that combines regulated breathing, slow movement, and focused awareness, purportedly to cultivate and balance Qi. This is best used as prevention and slowing old age.
Dietary therapy is similar to herbal therapy except the TCM practitioner focuses on the food intake of the client. It is about eliminating foods that weaken the immune system such as dairy products and gluten. Incorporating rich and easily digestible foods such as oatmeal and chicken broth soup. Keeping foods diverse and compensating metabolism deficiencies to get the most nutrients to where they’re needed.
There are other methods such as cupping, scraping, and moxabustion that the TCM practitioner may use depending on the clients individual needs. However, all of these methods are only effective after proper diagnosis, which is why the first session can take up to 1.5hrs and should be sought by experienced professionals.