Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encompasses several methods designed to help patients achieve and maintain health. To follow are 6 modern therapeutic methods used, including acupuncture.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the superficial skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscles at particular acupuncture points and manipulating them.
In TCM, there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that are connected by 12 main meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or “Qi,” between the surface of the body and its internal organs.
Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between Yin and Yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of “Qi” throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body.
Moxibustion is a therapy that involves burning moxa (mugwort root) made from dried Artimesia vulgaris (spongy herb) to facilitate healing. Burning moxa produces a great deal of smoke and a pungent odor that often is confused with that of cannabis. The purpose of moxibustion is to warm and invigorate the blood, stimulate the flow of Qi, strengthen the kidney Yang, expel wind and disperse cold, and dissolve stagnation. Historically, this therapy had been used to treat menstrual pain.
3. Tui Na Massage
Tui na (a combination of massage, acupressure, and other forms of body manipulation) is a form of Asian bodywork therapy that has been used in China for centuries. In a typical tui na session, the patient remains clothed and sits on a chair. The practitioner will ask a series of questions and then begin treatment. The type of massage delivered by a tui na practitioner can be quite vigorous at times. Practitioners may use herbal compresses, ointments, and heat to enhance these techniques. Tui na is best suited for treating chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.
Cupping is a type of Chinese massage, consisting of placing several glass or plastic “cups” (open spheres) on the body. TCM practitioners warm the cups using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is then placed inside the cup to remove all the oxygen. The practitioner then removes the substance and places the cup against the skin. The air in the cup then cools, creating lower pressure inside the cup, creating a vacuum and allowing the cup to stick to the skin. Fleshy sites on the body, such as the back and stomach, are the preferred sites for treatment. Scraping, or “Gua Sha,” is a folk medicine technique that uses pieces of smooth jade, bone, animal tusks, horns, or smooth stones to scrape along the skin to release obstruction and toxins that are trapped at the surface of the skin. The scraping is done until red spots then bruising cover the treatment area.
5. Chinese Herbs
The substances TCM practitioners most commonly use can come from different leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of plants such as cinnamon bark, ginger, ginseng, licorice, and rhubarb. Ginseng is the most broadly used substance for the broadest set of treatments. If a practitioner recommends Chinese herbology as a treatment, the herbs are combined into a formula that is dispensed in the form of a traditional tea, capsule, liquid extract, granule, or powder. The effectiveness of Chinese herbology still remains poorly documented.
6. Chinese Nutrition
Chinese nutrition is a mode of dieting rooted in Chinese understandings of the effects of food on the human organism. In Chinese nutrition, a balanced diet is one that includes all
5 tastes—spicy (warming), sour (cooling), bitter (cooling), sweet (strengthening), and salty (cooling). Foods that have a particular taste tend to have particular properties. There are no forbidden foods or “one size fits all” diets in Chinese nutrition. In TCM, nutrition is considered the first line of defense in health matters.
Although it is difficult to determine whether classic diets can influence diseases without evidence-based research, using uncontaminated produce and the least processed foods available is recommended.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners use 5 basic methods of diagnosis in their assessments, including looking, listening, smelling, asking, and touching. Inspection not only focuses on the patient’s physical appearance and behavior, but it also pays particular attention on the tongue.
A TCM practitioner’s analysis of the tongue will include its size, shape, tension, color, and coating. Below is a diagram of all the channels/meridians reaching the tongue areas that correspond to internal organs in TCM.