OK. Lets start this blog out with a question that is inherently basic, potentially complex, yet, nonetheless necessary. So, what is Traditional Chinese Medicine? Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM for short, is one of the names used to distinguish the Chinese Medical Practitioner and his/her methods of medicine from other systems of medicine. Why not call it Medicine then? This is an option, but mostly in western societies when a person says medicine, most people think of Western medicine or “conventional” medicine as known to the public as what is commonly practiced in hospitals. However in China, there ARE entire hospitals dedicated to TCM or even TCM integrated with Western Medicine. So really, this is simply a common term used to distinguish the methods and theories used by this type of medical practitioner.
Chinese Medicine has outlived the trials of time for over 3,000 documented years. Because it is so old the origination or initiation of the methods is not 100% understood as to how people figured out the entire system. Rather, a more rational explanation verse one single event that caused the enlightenment of a medical practitioner is time, trial and error, empirical evidence, study and practice caused for the development of what we now know today as TCM. A very disciplined people physically and spiritually, diligently studied the origins, rules and laws of nature and life. Through this TCM developed based on theories and laws of the nature around us in the universe, on the earth, in nature, as well as within ourselves. Starting with the building blocks of the nature of the Universe, such as Yin Yang, the elements, organ systems, Qi (energy) and blood, a medical system arose. Using universal laws, a highly complex system of the human body began to be understood.
Once nature and the universe began to be understood, practitioners began to realize ways to have an effect on the system using different methods. These methods are not used to force an effect upon the system. Rather, the Chinese medical practitioner brings balance to the body, with the same idea that when everything is in balance in nature, there is harmony and life. The major 3 divisions or methods used in Chinese medicine are Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Tui Na Therapeutic massage. However these are the most common methods, as the practitioner looks for any way that will bring balance to the individual physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually. Other methods include dietary therapy, life style changes, exercises, Qi Gong, Tai Chi or activity changes, etc. All of the above methods of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Tui Na massage are based on the wisdom of the body as known to Chinese medicine. In short, this includes the integrated system of the Energetic meridians, Organ systems, Energy and Blood, Yin and Yang, and essential elements of the body. Using this system, the practitioner can treat almost any disease, as this system is all encompassing and truly holistic. Most people know acupuncture is good for pain, but many do not know of the powerful effects it can have on the internal organ systems bringing balance to the entire body.
How Does the Practitioner know where the imbalances are? Aside from the obvious intake and questions asked by the practitioner, he or she will also look at the tongue, feel the pulses, palpate the abdomen, look at the face and body, as well as many other observations such as smell of the person. With years of training and experience, each of these examples gives a huge amount of information as to what is happening in the body. For example, the pulse is not just the one pulse, but it becomes 12, 18, or 30 or more positions within the pulse that tells the practitioner about all of the meridian, organs, energy and blood within the body. Some practitioners focus on only a few of these methods. If a practitioner gets REALLY good at any one observation technique, he or she can rely completely on that one. For example, with just feeling the pulse, or just looking at the face, a highly trained practitioner can know everything needed.
Finally…Treatment. How does the practitioner treat? Once the imbalances within the body are known the practitioner uses acupuncture, herbs and massage as well as other things to restore the proper balance to the meridians and organs. Some people can see amazing relief in just 1 or 2 treatments and others need 8 or 10 or more. This all depends on what is being treated as well as the response to treatment. Some people simply respond quite rapidly, and others slow but steady. However, the practitioner should tell you how many treatments to expect, with room for adjustment after assessment and progression. In the beginning, most treatments in the west are once a week for several weeks at least in the beginning. In China, this is a faster process as the person will get acupuncture every day or every other day for a week or two so results are much faster.
As this topic is dangerously large, to be short I thank you all for reading this overview and I hope to have enlightened some of you as to What is TCM. Even though this medicine is holistic, you can still look at commonly treated conditions and other information on my website at www.acupuncture-alexandria.com. I am always open to and enjoy answering questions so feel free to post any questions you have here or on my facebook at Christopher Grodski, L.Ac., Dipl. OM. In addition to questions I will also offer people with more personal questions a free, 10 minute consultation either over the phone or in person. I will continue to post more basic information in the beginning and then progress to health and life as it relates to everyone based on the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.