Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

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An Introduction to TCM

There may be many reasons why you’ve taken an interest towards Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), whether that be pure curiosity or seeking an experience on board. No matter your knowledge level, we can all use a refresher or two, and hopefully, by the end of this short article, you’ll have a better understanding of TCM!

What’s Traditional Chinese Medicine, what’s not?

Traditional Chinese medicine definitely has a lot of misconceptions, and we’re here to clear them up for you. It’s not just about the use of herbs or acupuncture, it’s much more than that and we’ll take a moment to discover. 

TCM is essentially an ancient yet completely modern healing system that helps you live a life of balance, wellness, and harmony. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated from primitive human societies, and has been around for about 5,000 years. The earliest found writings – on pieces of tortoise shells and bone, date back to the Shang Dynasty (15th to 11th centuries BC).The Huangdi neijing (A book named The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) is well known as the complete and systematic record of traditional Chinese medicine from as early as 3rd century BCE. China has the world’s oldest TCM medical systems.

The earliest found writings & Huangdi Neijing (A book named The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic)

Key Principles and Methodologies of TCM

(1). Prevention is the best cure. Your body is constantly revealing signs about the state of your health such as your heartbeat or breathing state, but sometimes it’s too subtle or gets ignored. TCM can teach you how to interpret what your body is telling you. TCM Practitioners perform their clinical assessment through four diagnostic methods: Inspection, Listening/Smelling, Inquiring, and Palpation.

  • Inspection
    Using visual inspection to observe for any abnormalities in patients’ vitality, complexion, tongue and bodily secretions.
  • Listening/Smelling
    To detect any abnormalities in the sounds produced by patients such as respiration. Attending to odors emitted through patients’ breath, secretions and excretions can help in diagnosing patients’ conditions.
  • Inquiring
    Inquiring about observable symptoms or signs and relevant medical history to aid diagnosis of illnesses and progressions.
  • Palpation
    Pathological changes and functions of each organ can be predicted by palpating the pulse and through pressing corresponding body parts.

(2). People are born with a natural self-healing ability. Your body is a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm. Let’s think of it like this- nature has a regenerative capacity, and so do you. Sometimes, this ability may appear to be lost or difficult to access, but in most cases, it is never completely gone.

(3). Your body is an integrated whole. Each and every structure in your body is an integral and necessary part of the whole. Along with your mind, emotions, and spirit, your physical body structures form a miraculously complex, interrelated system that is powered by life force, or energy. Traditional Chinese physicians seek to restore a dynamic balance between two complementary forces, yin (passive) and yang (active), which pervade the human body. Based on the constitution theory of TCM, the human population can be classified into either a balanced constitution or an unbalanced constitution.

(4). You are completely connected to nature. Changes in nature are always reflected in your body. TCM factors in the particular season, geographical location, time of day, as well as your age, genetics, and the condition of your body when looking at your health issues. A simple example is seasonal allergies. When the seasons change, so does your body’s reaction to your surroundings. Traditional Chinese physicians focus on nourishing the liver/gallbladder in spring, nourishing the heart/small intestine in summer, nourishing the lung/large intestine in Autumn and kidney/bladder in winter, so as to maximize health care and treatment effects. In addition, Chinese physicians focus on nourishing Yang in spring and summer, and nourishing Yin in autumn and winter, which is also a manifestation of an important part of Traditional Chinese medicine theory for disease prevention.

How do TCM Practitioners perform treatments?

A misconception of TCM Practitioners is the assumption that they will do the treatments freely. It certainly is easy to think this way because it isn’t the same as check ups at the doctor’s office, where they would prescribe you with medication based on their checks. However, TCM is based on the theory of Qi (very similar with the theory of Quantum), Yin Yang (Taichi) and Five Elements. It’s practical and real medicine. Unlike west medicine which is based on modern medical instruments and concentrated drugs, TCM uses natural methodologies and natural herbs to perform specific treatments.

A TCM practitioner will mainly use the following methodologies.

(1). Diagnosis (Observation, Listening, Questioning, and Pulse Analysis).

Diagnosis can help TCM practitioners know your constitution. There are 9 main constitutions as listed.
平和质: constitution of yin-yang harmony
气虚质: constitution of qi asthenia
阳虚质: constitution of yang asthenia
阴虚质: constitution of yin asthenia
痰湿质: constitution of phlegm-dampness
湿热质: constitution of damp-heat
血瘀质: constitution of blood stasis
气郁质: constitution of qi stagnation
特禀质: allergic constitution

(2). TCM Syndrome Differentiation
Syndrome differentiation (Bian Zheng) in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the comprehensive analysis of clinical information gained by the four main diagnostic TCM procedures: observation, listening, questioning, and pulse analysis. It is used to guide the choice of treatment either by acupuncture and/or TCM herbal formulae, that is, Fufang. TCM syndrome differentiation can be used for further stratification of the patients’ conditions with certain diseases, identified by orthodox medical diagnosis, which helps the efficacy of the selected intervention.

(3). Treatment plan
After Syndrome Differentiation, acupuncturists will make a plan of treatment. Depending on the season, time and constitution, the treatment plan may change at any time. Basically, they will decide which meridians and acupoints should be used for your specific treatment.

(4). Treatment
TCM doctors may use Acupuncture / Cupping / Moxibustion / Tuina (Acupressure) for treatments. They will also use herbs to adjust your constitution. Some herbs can have an immense positive effect if the diagnosis is correct. Some patients may think the doctor should treat right where the pain is, but in fact, that’s not always the right way. For example, many patients have headache problems that are caused by the Gallbladder. In this situation, treatment on the Gallbladder meridian can make the pain disappear instantly. It isn’t necessarily “treat the head when the head aches, treat the foot when the foot hurts”. We consider patients as a whole, and use Jing-Qi, Yin-Yang, five-element theories, eight principles to find the real cause of the disease and give different symptomatic treatments to different people.

TCM With Balance Healthcare

As modern TCM physicians, we blend the best of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Modern Western medicine to improve health, well-being, and the quality of life of people, and provide healthcare that is safe, effective, affordable and accessible.

Just as there are no two identical snowflakes in the world, there are no exact two people in this world. You are unique and special, and so is your treatment. Balance Healthcare’s aspiration and philosophy have always been caring for the whole patient, both mind and body. Holistic concepts, syndrome differentiation and treatment run through our disease prevention and treatment. Our mission is to do our best to help patients to get a balanced constitution, healthy endocrine system, immune system, circulatory system, and other, thereby improving health, wellbeing, and quality of life.

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