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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete system of healing that includes the use of herbs, diet, exercise therapy, massage and acupuncture.
The foundation for TCM is that all creation is born from two opposite principles, yin and yang. When yin and yang are in constant motion within the body, it creates balance, therefore resulting in a healthy body. When either the yin or the yangs are in a state of excess or deficiency, disease occurs.
Qi is the energy that allows us to do everything, in traditional Chinese culture, Qi (also chi or ch'i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. It controls our thinking, feeling, working and moving. This Qi, or life force energy moves along a system of channels called meridians. Meridians are pathways that distribute energy throughout the body. They take the internal energy stored in the vessels and distribute it to the skin, to muscles and tissue, to the internal organs - to wherever it is needed.
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are trained to see the body, mind and spirit as one interconnected system. This is different to practitioners of western medicine.
Acupuncture is used as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is when fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points on the body.
What is the five element theory?
In TCM it is believed that the universe is governed by 5 natural elements. Wood, fire, earth, metal and water. In this theory, each of the elements is associated with a season, as well as particular organs and senses.
- Wood is associated with spring, the liver and gallbladder.
- Fire is associated with early summer, the heart and small intestines
- Earth is associated with late summer, the stomach and spleen
- Metal is associated with Autumn, the lungs and large intestine
- Water is associated with winter, the kidneys and the bladder.
A TCM practitioner will ask the person detailed questions to gain clues as to the person’s imbalances.
What are the Eight Guiding Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
TCM also uses the 8 guiding principles to help analyse and differentiate between the imbalances in the body. Even though there are 8 principles, they actually exist as four pairs of polar opposites.
There is also the principle of cold or heat to find out what the overall energy of a person is. Certain conditions are characterised as being either cold or hot. Cold conditions have symptoms such as slow metabolism and chills. Hot conditions may have symptoms such as fast metabolism, fevers or feelings of heat within the body.
The principle of interior and exterior are used to describe the patients symptoms according to where the problem is located. Exterior conditions are usually short lived and are caused by germs entering the body. Interior conditions result from germs that enter the inside of the body and affect the organs, brain, spinal cord and bones.
The principle of deficiency or excess is used to describe the how strong the illness is. A deficient condition is the lack of blood, energy, heat or fluid. Excess condition indicates that the body has too much of something.
Yin and yang are the generalization of all of the above principles. Conditions are categorized according to the dominance of yin and yang. Generally yin is cold and female and represents the solid organs. Yang is energy and is hot and male, yang represents the hollow organs.
In TCM, the combination of the above principles determines the nature of the three constituents in the body. These constituents are energy, moisture, blood. Health problems are diagnosed using combinations of the eight guiding principles.
Diagnoses by a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner
A TCM practitioner will carry out three things when reaching a diagnosis. The interview, The pulse diagnosis and The tongue examination.
The TCM practitioner conducts an extensive interview with their client. They will ask if anything is bothering them, about their quality of sleep and dreams they have been having, their appetite, preferred foods and levels of stress. The practitioner will also observe, listen and used their sense of smell to help with diagnosis.
The TCM practitioner will also look for six different pulses in each wrist, three being superficial and three deep. These pulses correspond to the internal organs. The practitioner will observe the quality of the pulse, the frequency, rhythm and volume.
As well as the pulse, the tongue is an important indicator of health. The colour, texture, shape, size and coating all describe the condition of the tongue. Each part of the tongue corresponds to an organ.
Herbs used in TCM
Herbs are used to treat illness and energy imbalances. They are used just as much as acupuncture is.
The 5 elements theory and the 8 guiding principles, the tongue and pulse diagnoses are used to select a herbal remedy. The herbs come from plant, animal or mineral materials. They can be made into a tea or come premixed or in the form of a pill.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Massage
There is a form of massage called tui na, which means push and pull. Tui na massage works with the energy system or Qi. It stimulates or subdues the energy in order to bring the body back into balance. It is believed that the massage regulates the nervous system so that the Qi flows correctly, the immunological Qi of the body is enhanced and metabolic waste is flushed from the body.
Diet and Exercise in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The diet is one of the three origins, diet, heredity and environment. The Chinese approach to diet is based on the 5 element theory and the 8 guiding principles. Foods may be yin or yang, warming or cooling, drying or moistening. The diet should optimise digestion and increase the Qi, moisture and blood in the body, as well help organ function.
Exercise is called Qi Gong. This incorporates posture, movement, breathing, meditation, visualization and conscious intent in order to purify or cleanse Qi.
There are two types of Qi Gong. Internal and External. Internal Qi Gong maintains health by regulating Qi and bringing the internal Qi into balance. The external Qi Gong is the practice of transferring the practitioner’s Qi to another person for healing.
Information gathered from www.naturaltherapypages.com.au