Chinese medicine dates back to thousands of years and is a broad range of practice that covers acupuncture, herbal therapy, tui-na (Chinese acupressure massage), moxibustion, cupping, and food therapy. The basic premise of TCM relates to how the body interacts with its environment, including the weather, seasons, time of day, our emotions and diet.
In the optimum state of health, the body, mind and spirit are maintained in a harmonious state of balance through the regulation of qi, also known as the “life force.” Disease follows when this natural flow of qi is disrupted. Acupuncture involves the placement of fine, sterilized needles along specific points on the body to smooth out any obstructions and to bring the body back into balance.
Some practitioners may use other modalities in addition to acupuncture in their treatment plans depending on the diagnoses. Chinese herbal therapy is a common practice that may be used by many as an adjuvant therapy. These herbs are plant extracts that have therapeutic effects to last in between acupuncture sessions. Depending on the individual diagnoses, patients can be prescribed patented formulas in pill form, or even loose herbs to make into a tea at home.
Moxibustion is another modality often used by TCM practitioners. It involves the use of a cylindrical shaped moxa stick, which is made of mugwort. Some practitioners use cone shaped moxa. This is a form of heat therapy used on or near certain acupuncture points to provide stimulation and improve the flow of qi. This can be used to improve general health in cancer patients and also in certain digestive disorders.
Cupping is another form of heat therapy used amongst a lot of celebrities in Hollywood. The vacuum inside the cups creates a suction on the skin that improves the blood circulation to the specific area, and is used to treat pain as well as other conditions.
Tui-na is a combination of acupressure and massage that removes blockages in the meridians. This leads to improvement in mobility and is used mostly in musculoskeletal conditions.
Depending on the patient’s diagnoses, a TCM practitioner may also recommend some dietary and lifestyle changes. It is important to avoid certain foods that may aggravate certain conditions or addition of certain herbs and supplements to expedite the healing process.