Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Acupuncture, Chinese Herbalism, & Acupressure to Re-Balance your Energy and Release Stress & Illness
Re-Ignite your Qi with TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is usually seen as a complementary medicine (insert link to complementary medicines article) in the West – but it’s a complete and very effective system in itself. We’re talking about Chinese herbalism, which can sort out a huge range of problems, and acupuncture or acupressure – energy therapies that re-ignite your qi (life force energy) and heal problems like backache, headaches and stress-related illnesses. TCM works to re-align stuck, blocked energy and get you flowing towards optimum health and thriving in every area of your life.
Body-Mind-Spirit Balance Using Herbs, Needles & Massage
TCM practitioners have a pretty awesome range of tools at their disposal when it comes to healing mind-body dis-ease. Chinese herbalism, acupuncture, Tai Chi and Qi Gong all deal with the person as a whole – instead of only focusing on symptoms, these systems treat the underlying cause of illness and stress. If you see a Traditional Chinese Herbalist, you can expect to be prescribed some powerful but usually strong-tasting medicines. TCM Herbalists use their knowledge of the essential properties of loads of herbs and their effects on your holy trinity: body-mind-spirit. You might be surprised to hear that ‘herbs’, in Chinese medicine, aren’t just things like rosemary and milk thistle – but include a whole range of things like animal parts, leaves, plant roots, dirt and stones. TCM herbalism combines herbs to make a substance that is more effective than each isolated herb. You might think you’d have to be desperate to have needles stuck into you to get better – but often acupuncture helps where Western, symptom-based medicine has failed. Acupuncture, an Asian body-work therapy (ABT) with roots in Traditional Chinese medicine, has been shown to improve problems like nausea, headaches, and lower-back pain – and lots of happy customers say it’s helped them with stress, weight loss, and stopping smoking. The stainless-steel, ultra-thin, sterile needles are gently inserted without pain – but you may feel a little ‘ouch’ as an out-of-balance acupressure point is stimulated and re-balanced.
Acupressure – authentic TCM acupressure is called ‘Tuina‘ (pronounced twee nah) – uses the same points as acupuncture, but is a better option if the idea of needles puts you off, since the pressure points are stimulated with the practitioner’s hands, elbows and feet, sometimes with some stretching or acupressure massage. Acupressure can help with depression, pain, chronic fatigue and addiction recovery among other issues. The two can also be used in combination. For both acupressure and acupuncture you will stay fully clothed and lie down on a comfy couch for about an hour. With acupuncture you relax and let the needles do their work. TCM practitioners also use Tai Chi and medical Qi Gong (insert Qi Gong article link) to get stuck energy moving again and to help empower you to maintain your own energy system on a day to day basis.
Finding a TCM Practitioner & Self-Treatment
First off, don’t fire your primary health care provider if you have a diagnosed condition that you get treatment for. It’s a must to let your doctor know what TCM herbal remedies you are taking as they could interact with your current medicines – and similarly, let your TCM practitioner know what other treatments you are having. It’s better to use the knowledge of a professionally trained TCM practitioner than to try and self-treat – herbs are powerful stuff. When you’re shopping around for a TCM practitioner, do your research on their training and experience. If you’re reading up on TCM to try out acupressure points yourself, similarly check out the credentials and training of the author – you don’t want to get the points wrong and cause pain or other problems. You can also get Tai chi and Qi Gong videos and books, though the jury’s out on whether they’re as good as classes or one-to-one sessions.
Getting the Yin-Yang Balance Down
TCM has as its core the idea that our bodies and minds are self-healing. TCM uses different systems to stimulate or recharge that self-healing ability, supporting you while you return to full health. TCM is also based on the idea that we are all walking, miniature universes – that is, just like the larger universe, we have different forces within us that need to be balanced. If the yin and yang in you are out of whack, you’ll eventually know about it, and the five elements – fire, earth, wood, metal and water – also need to be in tune with each other. All of this affects your qi, the vital life force energy that keeps you going and runs the show as far as your health goes. TCM helps to unblock the flow of qi to bring balance back to your whole system. Acupuncture and acupressure do this by focusing on points on your skin that correspond to meridians (pathways) of qi. According to TCM, your emotions are related to the way your organs work. By adjusting the function of the organ through acupuncture, acupressure or herbal medicine, you can change your emotions too. This is because our mind, body and emotions are all connected. For example, the liver is connected with anger, and the spleen with worry. Fascinating stuff, and apparently it works too, although Western medicine doesn’t quite understand how.
Ancient Bone Needles & TCM Infusions in the West
TCM has been going for more than 2,500 years, with roots in Taoism, an ancient philosophy that promotes unity with nature. TCM has been evolving continuously throughout that time, and there are some overlaps with traditional medicine systems in other countries in the East and South Asia, such as Japan, which have also been influenced by TCM. There is evidence that acupuncture was used hundreds of years ago in Europe, but it was only during the second half of the twentieth century that it really started to take off in the West. Visits to acupuncture practitioners have rocketed during the 90’s and into this decade, with a couple of million Americans now practicing tai chi and qi gong. It’s hard to say exactly how long acupuncture has been around, but thousands-year old bone and stone ‘needles’ have been found in China in modern excavation sites.
Why is it Ripe and Ready?
TCM gets right to the root of problems in body-mind-spirit that cause dis-ease and helps us to tap into our own capacity to heal and flow with life.