Chinese Medicine 101

Melody Yang, Staff Writer

Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM for short, originated in ancient China and is one of the oldest healing systems in the world, being more than 3,500 years older than traditional Western medicine. It is based on several beliefs, one of which is the belief that a vital energy called “Qi” flows through the body, and has many roles in your health. It is believed that Qi flows through the body through pathways called meridians, and when the flow is imbalanced, illness occurs. Through various methods such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and Tui Na massage, you can heal the imbalances and cure your illness.

Acupuncture: Often times, acupuncture is mistaken as the whole of Chinese medicine, which is entirely not true, as many other methods are used in TCM to help patients achieve health. Acupuncture, however, is the most practiced method. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting and manipulating needles into the skin at certain acupuncture points. There are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points over the entire human body, all of which are connected by 12 main meridians that allow for the flow of Qi. The needles stimulate the acupuncture points, which is thought to keep the body in balance.

Many people express concern regarding acupuncture due to needle phobia and other worries. However, acupuncture is extremely safe when done by a trained and licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncture needles are also hair-thin and are only inserted a half-inch to an inch deep, depending on the kind of treatment. Freshman Kailin Liu described her experience with a doctor that specializes in TCM, and said that “when the acupuncture needle was inserted, I could feel a shock travel away from that point, and it was a very interesting experience.”

Chinese herbs: Another method of treatment in TCM includes the use of many different Chinese herbs and other natural products. Although plants are used most of the time, minerals and some animal products are also used as medicinal substances. The herbs are often combined into formulas and given in many forms such as pills, tea, powder, or extracts.

Tui Na Massage: Tui Na is a form of therapeutic massage that targets the specific problems of a patient by massaging certain acupuncture points in order to affect the flow of Qi in the body. One of its biggest benefits is its ability to relax while energizing the patient. Tui Na massage is also a reliable treatment for arthritis, muscle spasms, and other problems of the like. It is very effective in reducing the pain the neck, shoulders, hips, back, and other parts of the body.

Gradually, more and more people in the U.S. are using TCM as a way to treat their illnesses and problems. Next time you get an injury or feel pain of some sort in your body, you could try finding a reliable TCM doctor and see how the treatment it works for you!

Graphic courtesy of BEHANCE.NET