Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a healing approach that originated in China thousands of years ago. TCM practitioners use herbs, diet, acupuncture, cupping, and qigong to prevent or treat health problems. [Read more: Conditions that can be treated with TCM]
Acupuncture has gained a lot of popularity and praise over the years in the Western world. However, Chinese Herbal Medicine is still misunderstood which keeps people away from the powerful healing properties. To help you better understand Chinese Medicine we have put together the top 5 things you need to know about Chinese Medicine.
1. TCM is Based on a Philosophy of Balance with Nature
The main philosophy behind TCM is that the human body is a self-regulating system. Internally, the body regulates itself to achieve a balance between each part. When the body is in an optimal and dynamic balance, then we are in good health. If the body is unable to achieve this balance itself, health issues will start to develop. TCM practitioners seek to identify and correct imbalances within the body by using a unique understanding of the human body and nature called “Five Elements Philosophy”.
Quoting from the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, “The Five Elements are a comprehensive template that organizes all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns in nature. Each of the five groups—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water—include categories such as a season, a direction, climate, stage of growth and development, internal organ, body tissue, emotion, aspect of the soul, taste, color, sound . . . the categories are seemingly limitless. The Five Elements reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world….It provides a master blueprint that diagrams how nature interacts with the body and how the different dimensions of our being impact each other.
2. Chinese Medicine Treats The Root Cause Of The Problem, Not Just The Symptoms
It is often easier to just pop a pill and get rid of the symptoms than discovering what the root cause of the problem is. A phrase you will often hear from any Chinese Medicine practitioner is ‘treat the cause, not just the symptoms’. It may take a little longer to heal the root cause of the problem but healing the root cause will prevent the issue from returning and will eliminate the symptoms along with it.
Symptoms are a sign that imbalance and or deficiency are present in the body. TCM uses the five element framework to determine the root cause which correlates to the symptoms the body is exhibiting, for example:
When you suffer from allergies you may witness symptoms such as itchiness, redness in your eye along with discomfort in your nose and throat, according to TCM these symptoms are rooted in your Liver. So instead of treating symptoms one by one, TCM tries to restore the optimal balance in your Liver system.
3. One Herbal Formula Can Be Used To Address Multiple Issues At The Same Time
One Chinese herbal formula can be used to treat multiple issues. As mentioned above, TCM tries to work on the body as a whole and manage the symptoms by finding a deeper root cause, this also explains why the same herbs can be used in some completely irrelevant conditions in modern medicine.
4. No Fixed Recipe nor one-size fits all treatment in TCM
Similar to modern medicine, dosage and intensity of medication matters. TCM practitioners are able to adjust the recipe of each prescription according to the patient’s physical condition. As a result, TCM herbal medicines and treatments cannot be purchased without professional consultation and advice.
The same goes for acupuncture treatment as well. The acupoints need to be selected carefully with a right intensity of stimulation. Not everyone is suitable for strong stimulation acupuncture or sometimes other methods like Moxa or cupping could work better than acupuncture. So your TCM practitioner should check your status of balance and choose the most safe and effective treatment for you.
5. Chinese Medicine Comes In Variety of Forms
Chinese herbal supplements are available in various forms. The most traditional way is to use a pack of dry herbs and cook it at home. But nowadays they are made in more convenient ways like in tablets, capsules or granules.
Even for acupuncture, there are different styles of acupuncture or medical Qigong or a combination of Japanese martial arts, even some modern medicine. So do not be surprised if a new TCM practitioner does not perform the same treatment as the last one you had, but they could all be effective in their own way.