What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Posted by on Mar 19, 2017 in Alternative Health | 0 comments

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine, commonly referred to as TCM, is a holistic health care method dating back 2 500 years. The practitioners of this ancient form of treatment view the entire body as an intricate arrangement of interconnected parts (known as Qi), rather than separate organs and systems.

A TCM practitioner will take into account all aspects of the patient’s life, rather than just diagnose the obvious symptoms present.

The concept of Qi

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on maintaining the balance of Qi (pronounced “chee”) in the body. Qi is the “circulating life force” present in every person’s body.

When you are overworked, stressed and run down, the flow of energy in your body is disrupted, consequently opening you up to illnesses and making your body fragile and fatigued.

Westerners regard stress and a busy schedule as signs of being hard working, ambitious and diligent. In Eastern medicine practices however, this is not a good thing at all. According to TCM, making little or no time to recoup and reflect, disrupts the proper hormonal balance within you.

TCM practices aim to restore the balance of Qi, the life force, or energy, flowing through your body. This is done by using various natural remedies and techniques including:

  • acupuncture,
  • cupping therapy,
  • herbal medicine,
  • tai chi,
  • nutrition, and
  • exercise.

Yin and Yang

An important concept of TCM is yin and yang, which are opposing yet complementary energies. One of the primary goals of TCM is to restore the balance of energy between yin and yang in the body, because when one is more dominant than the other, your health suffers.

The familiar black and white yin yang symbol embodies the idea of all the earth’s opposing forces. These include winter and summer, energy and rest, hot and cold, male and female, and so on. “Yin” literally means shady side and “Yang” sunny side.

Treatments and remedies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.


During acupuncture the practitioner inserts thin, sterile needles into specific points on the skin along energy “channels” or meridians. The needles are then stimulated by hand or electrically, to restore the body’s natural energy flow of Qi.

Acupuncture is used to treat:

  • chronic pain and headaches,
  • depression,
  • anxiety and insomnia,
  • improve fertility
  • help ease morning sickness.

Furthermore, acupuncture can also help to prevent cognitive decline in patients suffering from degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s.

Cupping therapy

Cupping is when a series of cups are placed on the patient’s back. The cups are then carefully heated with fire, hot oil or hot water and sealed off. As they cool, the vacuum which is created dulls pain, draws out toxins from the body, increases blood flow and breaks up deep scar tissue.

Cupping therapy is similar to acupuncture and can treat:

  • muscle aches and stiffness,
  • arthritis,
  • blood conditions like anemia and hemophilia,
  • high blood pressure,
  • tension,
  • anxiety, and
  • depression.

Herbal medicines

Trained herbalists use a wide variety of herbs, minerals, tinctures, teas and natural extracts to treat ailments and help restore the body to homeostasis (balance) and Qi. The herbalist will aim to correct the dysfunction of organs and unhealthy body patterns.

Common ingredients used in Chinese herbal medicine include Gingko Biloba, astragalus root, reishi mushrooms, goji berries and ginseng to name a few.

In consultation with the herbalist various herbs or ingredients will be prescribed to treat anything from colds and flu, breathing difficulty, fatigue and allergies to infertility and even recovering cancer patients.

Tai chi

Often represented by the black and white Yin Yang symbol, tai chi is a mind-body exercise using controlled breathing, martial arts principles, Eastern philosophies and Chinese medicine.

Harvard researchers have said that practicing tai chi regularly for as little as 12 weeks can help you to achieve a “healthy body, strong heart and sharp mind.”

The exercises are slow and gentle and are perfect for the elderly as it has anti-aging benefits as well. The Official Publication of The State Medical Society of Wisconsin reported that “Tai chi is an exercise form effective for seniors. It is a relatively low-tech approach to preventing disability and maintaining physical performance in older adults.”


According to TCM, certain flavors are drawn to particular organ systems, these are explained below:

  • sourness gets drawn to the liver and gallbladder,
  • bitter to the small intestine and heart,
  • salty to the bladder and kidneys,
  • spicy to the lungs and large intestine, and
  • sweet to the stomach and spleen.

Yin and Yang play an important role in Chinese nutrition. Vegetables tend to be yin in energy and meats are yang.

You can balance your nutrition by consuming yin food in the summer (the most yang time of the year), and yang foods in the winter (the most yin time of the year).

How is Traditional Chinese Medicine Beneficial?

  • Reduces inflammation and may offer increased protection against cancer
  • Aids fertility and balancing of the hormones
  • Preserves muscle strength, balance and flexibility
  • Can help to reduce chronic pain and headaches
  • Improves liver health
  • Cognitive health protection
  • It aids in lowering the body’s stress response

Since there are almost no negative side effects when using TCM, it is worth your while to give some of the remedies a try.

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