Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is a label that covers a broad range of traditional medicine practices spread throughout China and other Asia countries. It includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, Tui Na therapy (Chinese medical body work), cupping therapy, Gua sha therapy, Qi gong therapy and dietary therapy.The common thread among these diverse practices is a system for balancing the various functions of the body, based on Daoist principles of yingyang and other metaphysical belief systems. These practices are a common part of medical care throughout East Asia.
In general, TCM can guard against almost anything that ails the human body. Whether you have pain, allergies, stress, digestive problems, hair loss, hot flashes, etc., TCM can usually help you return to a better quality of life with a balanced immune system.
TCM practices take a holistic approach, viewing the body in terms of organ system based loosely around particular body functions (such as digestion or excretion) rather than in terms of isolated organs. These organ systems are conceived to be interrelated in various systematic ways, and various techniques are used to stimulate or support weakened systems or to soothe or dampen over-excited systems.
TCM involves an often subjective diagnosis of the general state of various organ systems followed by ongoing efforts to reestablish a healthy balance between the systems.
Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called “qi”, that circulates through twenty invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian and organ is how disease begins.
Acupuncturists insert very fine needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence and restore balance to the flow of qi. When the needle is first inserted, you may feel a “prick” and tingling or numbing sensation in that particular area, or sometimes it can be deflected to another part of your body. We call this “energy transfer”. . In fact, clients often fall asleep during treatment due to the relaxing effect.
There are numerous modern theories about how acupuncture works. Some of them are as follows.
- Acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins.
- Acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances that transmit nerve impulses to the brain.
- Acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system.
- Acupuncture stimulates circulation.
- Acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body.
Tui Na, which dates back to 1700 BC, is the parent of most modern Asian bodywork forms. Tui Na does not simply work on the muscles, bones, and joints. It works with the energy of the body at a deeper level. As the practitioner senses the client’s body with their hands, he/she is able to assess the distribution of energy and affect its flow. As the body’s energy is kept in balance, health, not just the physical health but mental and emotional well-being, is maintained. Tui Na not only corrects problems, but also prevents problems from happening.
The style of Tui Na practiced in China today is similar to the work of chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists combined. As Tui Na migrated to the West and become popular, the style of work has been modified. Most western trained Tui Na practitioners do not do “bone setting” and the treatments become a therapeutic extension of western massage, with an emphasis on restoring and balancing energy.
A typical Tui Na session uses a variety of strokes along energy channels, including acupressure and Shiatsu, as well as gentle shaking, stretching, and movement of the joints. This stimulates and releases the flow of energy, which helps balance your physical and emotional systems.
Tui Na can also focus on specific problems, such as:
- chronic pain associated with muscles, joints, and skeletal system;
- joint pain, such as arthritis, sciatica, muscle spasms;
- pain in the back, neck, and shoulders;
- chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches (including migraines);
- tension associated with stress.