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Traditional Chinese Medicine is a Powerful Preventative and Holistic Type of Treatment

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TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has been helping people in China get well from various health conditions for thousands of years. It is supported and promoted by the Communist government of China through government-funded research and continuing education. Based on the Eastern philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, TCM is derived from a belief that all living things share life force energy and are interconnected with each other and that illness is the result of an energy imbalance in the body. Chinese medicine these days is widely practiced throughout the Central Asian Republics, Asia, at large, and in Europe and is gradually drawing adherents in the United States.

Preventative and Holistic

Traditional Chinese medicine’s main doctrine is that disease is prevented and good health comes about when the body is in balance. To attain that balance, what is needed, according to TCM, is the practice of moderation as it relates to alcohol consumption and diet, as well as the inclusion of daily routines of mental and physical tasks. During ancient times, the Chinese upper class used to go to physicians and paid them when they are in good health in order to preserve that health; if they got sick, their doctors were not paid.

As with other types of holistic care, practitioners of TCM encourage their patients to become proactive in maintaining their health and in their own healing process through the practice of meditation and by eating a healthy diet as well as through various forms of exercise programs that are known to promote the proper circulation of life force energy (chi).

The initial objective of TCM healers is to first identify the part of the body where chi flow has been blocked or stagnated. Then, they use their training and skill to determine the best plan of treatment that can heal the illness. These healers can use one or more TCM techniques that are best suited to treat the condition. These can include herbal medicines, topical herbs, acupressure, acupuncture and Chinese massage.

Yin and Yang

One of the most important tenets of TCM is that the human body is a balance of energy forces known as yin and yang. These two forces are diametrically polar opposites but yin cannot exist without the presence of yang and vice versa. The state of health of a person is defined by the imbalance or balance of yin and yang.

Various factors that are often in flux tend to disrupt the balance between yin and yang. They include the seasons of the year, the time of day, and the mood of the person. When an imbalance becomes fixed, it’s believed then that disease ensues. Yin is associated with nighttime and qualities that are quiet and watery; Yang, on the other hand represents daytime, activity, heat, and fire. The internal organs of the body, according to TCM, are also related to the qualities of yin and yang as well as the environment around us, the way we physically move our bodies, and the foods we eat.

Shen

Shen, in TCM, represents a person’s mental faculties and the vitality (or lack of it) of the spirit through how activities are managed and how consciousness is expressed. The systems will function in harmony and the body will be strong when the Shen is abundant. A weak Shen means the body’s systems are malfunctioning. A person’s emotional state can also be evaluated through Shen. With a strong Shen, the body is able to recover from illness more easily and quickly.

The Five Elements

The emotional and physical health of a person, according to TCM, can also be associated with their relationship to the qualities of the earth and to earth itself. The overall characteristics of health, physiological symptoms, the emotions, and a person’s personality are categorized based on the five natural elements of the earth: metal, earth, fire, wood, and water. If, say, the wood element is imbalanced, the person will manifest signs that he/she has too much wood and the prescribed therapies will associate with the element that counteracts the effects of wood the best.

Each one of the five elements also associates with specifics organs and parts of the body, including the mouth, tongue, nose, ears, and eyes, as well as with various factors including the weather, seasons, sounds, colors, and emotions. This holistic view of the person and the holistic world view of yin and yang obviously imply that TCM is a holistic type of medicine. TCM practitioners will search for imbalances in every area of your life and on the outside and inside of your physical body.

Getting Treatment from a TCM Practitioner

When you first visit a practitioner of Chinese medicine, you will first be asked a string of questions about yourself and your health. Then, your practitioner will perform a physical examination consisting of a tongue and pulse examination. Besides talking about your specific ailment, symptoms or complaint, you and your practitioner will also discuss about your energy levels, bowel function, sleep patterns, and exercise and diet habits.

Your practitioner may also take time smelling your breath and observing your skin. This type of diagnostic examination will provide the practitioner all the physical data and this information he/she needs in order identify the part of your body where your energy is imbalanced and what type of treatment you need to restore balance in your body. Typical modes of treatment include acupuncture, meditation, exercise, diet changes, and Chinese herbal medicine.

Acupuncture and TCM

In Chinese medicine, chi is believed to circulate via 12 energy channels known as meridians in the body. Each meridian is related to one or more organ systems. As mentioned a while ago, if the flow of chi is restricted or obstructed, the body is in not in balance. An imbalance results in illness which is somehow similar to what Western doctors refer to as symptoms (examples, constipation, upset stomach, or fatigue).

Acupuncture is a healing technique that is designed to restore the free and balanced flow of chi by applying pressure to selected acupuncture points along the meridians. There are several ways this pressure can be applied although acupuncturists mainly utilize very thin, tiny needles. Needles and other means of pressure activate nerve endings in order to reorient chi flow throughout the body. Acupuncture treatment in the West is usually for the relief of chronic pain. This is achieved by enabling the body to produce and release endorphins in the bloodstream to relieve pain in a natural way.

Izumi “Zoe” Schutz, L.Ac., is a Licensed and Board Certified Acupuncturist in Austin, Texas.

Written by Valerie

February 14th, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Acupuncture