What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a wholistic system of health care that uses Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Tui Na (Chinese Remedial Massage), Cupping, Gua Sha (scraping therapy), Moxibustion and lifestyle advice in order to restore homeostasis to the body. TCM focuses on addressing the underlying causes for dysfunctional health conditions as well as providing relief from symptoms. In this way, TCM is an effective treatment as well as a source of preventative medicine for many acute and chronic conditions.
Acupuncture involves the gentle insertion and manipulation of very fine needles into these specific acupuncture points around the body. The aim of acupuncture is to engage and encourage the flow of Qi (energy and oxygen) throughout the meridians in order to unblock obstructions and revitalize the channels as well as nourish and restore the function of internal organs. Needles are retained for between 15-30 minutes and may cause you to feel some slight sensations such as dullness, heaviness or a sense of something ‘moving’ in the channels. This is completely normal and a sign of the acupuncture having an effect in the muscles or with the nervous system.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used alone or in combination with Acupuncture and manual therapies to treat a wide range of diseases. Chinese Herbal Medicine supports the body and homeostasis by balancing herbal disharmonies and encouraging the body to heal itself. As herbs are used in their natural forms, they are gentle and generally without the side effects that can accompany manufactured drugs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also incorporates several forms of manual therapies which can be used as an adjunct to Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. These include:
- Tui Na (Chinese Remedial Massage)
- Gua Sha (scraping)
These are fantastic manual therapies that function like remedial massage, except that they work quickly and deeply in order to detoxify the tissues, relief pain and decrease stress. They can be fantastic therapies for clients who are afraid of needles or who would prefer a more acupressure-based treatment.
What to expect during your first treatment
Visiting an acupuncturist can be like going on a plane flight for the first time. It’s an experience that can be unlike a visit to any other healthcare provider. Your acupuncturist may ask you a wide range of questions on what may seem like unrelated topics from the issue that you are presenting with. After a few questions your acupuncturist will take your pulse. They may palpate your abdomen and various other points and channels on your body. Then a quick glance at your tongue before the treatment begins.
You will feel some sensations once the needles are inserted. This is not an uncomfortable experience; instead you should expect to feel a sense of heaviness, dullness, tingling or a sensation of things ‘moving’ in the channels. This is called ‘De Qi’ in TCM and is completely normal. In a western medical sense this is the needle engaging a process of neuro-feedback.
Mostly people feel a deep sense of relaxation during an Acupuncture treatment and often have a bit of a nap!