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Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for more than 2,000 years. TCM is based on a belief in yin and yang, defined as opposing energies, such as earth and heaven, winter and summer, and happiness and sadness. When yin and yang are in balance, you feel relaxed and energized. Out of balance, however, yin and yang negatively affect your health.

Practitioners also believe that there is a life force or energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”), in every body. For yin and yang to be balanced and for the body to be healthy, qi must be balanced and flowing freely. When there is too little or too much qi in one of the body’s energy pathways, called meridians, or when the flow of qi is blocked, it causes illness.

The ultimate goal of TCM treatment is to balance yin and yang by promoting the natural flow of qi. In an interesting analogy, often used to explain its nature, qi is described as the wind in a sail, we do not see the wind directly, but we are aware of its presence as it fills the sail.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of TCM?

The first writings about TCM date back to 200 BCE. Herbal medicine and acupuncture, including theory, practice, diagnosis, and treatment, were recorded in classical Chinese texts and refined over many centuries. The practice of TCM stayed in Asia for centuries. Chinese immigrants had been practicing TCM in the United States since the mid-19th century, but its existence was unknown to most Americans before 1971. That year, New York Times reporter James Reston, who was in China covering former President Nixon’s trip, had to have an emergency appendix operation. After the operation he received acupuncture for pain, and his stories about this experience with TCM fascinated the public. Since then, TCM has gone on to become a mainstream alternative medicine practiced all over the world.

How does TCM work?

Disease, alterations in the normal flow of qi such that yin and yang are imbalanced, is thought to have three major causes: external or environmental factors, your internal emotions, and lifestyle factors, such as diet. Through the use of its therapeutic modalities, TCM stimulates the body’s own healing mechanisms. Practices used in TCM include:

Acupuncture and acupressure
Moxibustion, burning an herb near the skin
Herbal medicine
Nutrition
Chinese massage, called tui na Exercise, such as tai chi and qi gong which combine movement with meditation

In TCM, the body’s internal organs are thought of not only as individual structures but also as complex networks. According to TCM, qi flows through organ systems, the kidneys, heart, spleen, liver, lung, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine, by way of meridians. Despite their specific names, these 5 systems correspond to more than individual body parts. The kidney, for example, represents the entire urinary system along with the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys. The heart, meanwhile, represents both the heart and the brain.

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