Have you ever seen swimmers with purple circles on their backs during competitions? Or probably know someone who turns to acupuncture when he experiences certain pains? These are examples of the works of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). If you have been to a Traditional Chinese Pharmacy, you would see that it is like a visit to a natural history museum with glass jars and cabinets full of varieties of desiccated plant herbs and animal materials.
While Western medicine focuses mainly on treating diseases. TCM, on the other hand, focuses on the yin yang balance, the harmony, the healthy flow of energy (qi), and the entire well-being. It is a system of medicine that has been practiced for over centuries that aims to prevent or heal diseases by restoring the yin yang balance. There are two central ideas behind TCM which are Qi and Yin and Yang. Qi is known as the vital energy that runs throughout the body that is always on the move with constant changes. TCM treatments often focus on ways to promote and maintain the flow of qi. The Yin & Yang are opposites that describe the qualities of qi.
TCM practitioners believe that when a person is ill, it is because there has been an imbalance in the yin and yang of a person. They use their sense of smell, hearing, voice vibration, touch, and pulse diagnosis to discover the source of a disease and to know which organs are affected. They choose herb formulas that correspond to the properties of one’s body energy vibration since each herb has a different healing purpose. TCM practitioners believe, “Nothing surpasses the examination of the pulse.” The yin yang is also used in pulse examinations. Yin representing right and yang left, a woman’s right pulse indicated disorder and her left pulse order; the opposite order for a man. They do not only read different pulses on each wrist but also read each pulse at levels. For example, on the left wrist, when the inch was lightly pressed the pulse indicated the state of the small intestines; when heavily pressed, the heart.
Astonishingly, TCM Practitioners can also use the time of the day for their diagnosis. For instance, if an individual gets a headache at 4PM, this means that the Bladder Qi is imbalanced, since the Bladder is in charge of maintaining the body’s functions at that time.
Here are the different kinds of Traditional Chinese Medicine and what they contribute:
Acupuncture stimulates specific points on the body often by inserting thin needles through the skin. Studies suggest that acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s natural painkillers and affects areas in the brain involved in processing pain. It helps ease pain (mostly chronic), reduce headaches, and limit side effects from chemotherapy.
2) Tai Chi
Tai Chi combines certain postures, gentle movements, mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. It is found to improve balance and stability in older people, reduce pain, and improve the quality of life. It is characterized by deliberately slow, continuous, circular, well-balanced, and rhythmic movements that were originally practiced as martial art.
3) Chinese Herbal Products
Chinese herbal products are found in different kinds of teas, powders, and capsules that are mostly made from plants. Studies suggest that herbs help with problems such as stroke, heart and respiratory diseases, and mental disorders. Nearly 200 modern medicines have been developed from the 7,300 species of plants used as medicines in China.
Cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts heated cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.
Meditation is a technique to sit quietly and calm one’s mind. Qigong, a method to prevent illness and prolong life, contains elements of meditation, relaxation training, martial-arts techniques, and breathing exercises that are intended to cultivate qi and distribute it to the different organs of the body. Today, people all around the world regularly practice different kinds of meditations to improve health and promote relaxation.
Moxibustion is a form of therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or near the skin. It warms and strengthens the flow of Qi, eliminates harmful pathogens, boosts the immune system, helps with fatigue and digestive issues, and more.
Although to Western minds TCM may appear unreliable, TCM practitioners have achieved remarkable diagnoses for over centuries now. With its success, by the late 20th and early 21st centuries, TCM is now practiced, not only in China, but worldwide.