Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine

After reading my Acupressure & Qigong series, you may be wondering how that fits in with acupuncture and what happens in my clinic. Let’s take a step back and learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Practiced in China for 5000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a rich and complex history with philosophical underpinnings that are different from Western medicine. For Western patients, TCM can be beneficial but also confusing. It’s my goal in this series to shed light on what TCM is and how it works in a way that’s accessible and applicable for patients.

Many people think that TCM = acupuncture. Actually, TCM has eight branches, with acupuncture being the last one. The other branches are: meditation, qigong, nutrition, acupressure, cosmology, feng shui, and herbal medicine. In my practice, I focus on meditation/qigong, nutrition, acupressure, herbal medicine, and acupuncture.

Why so many branches? Unlike Western medicine, which views the body as a series of systems that sometimes malfunction and need to be fixed by the relevant specialist, TCM takes a holistic approach to health. Everything is interrelated: The energy of this organ affects your energy level and mood, which affect your dietary and exercise choices, which affect the original organ. The factors that influence your state of health are both internal (like thoughts, feelings, diet, genetics, and physical symptoms) and external (like environmental stresses, toxins, and the weather). Picture it like a large knot you’re trying to untangle: When you tug on one part, all the other parts are affected.

You may already sense the holistic impact of some of your choices and symptoms, but other factors in your health may not be as obvious. Don’t worry, you don’t have to untangle the knot by yourself. In TCM, the patient and practitioner work together to discover what the patient needs to heal, recover, and stay healthy.

As I shared in my Acupressure & Qigong posts, prevention is the real strength of TCM. There are many things that can disturb the balance of your qi. The different branches of TCM work together to restore and maintain the balance and flow of your qi before a temporary imbalance becomes long term and causes illness or pain. In the remaining posts in this series, we’ll take a closer look at the branches of TCM that are the focus of my practice, the roles of patient and practitioner, and what to expect when you have an appointment.

In the meantime, if you’re chomping at the bit to learn more, I’d love to meet you.