What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine is a range of traditional medical practices used in China that developed over several thousand years. These practices include herbal medicine, acupuncture, and massage. TCM is a form of Oriental medicine, which includes other traditional East Asian medical systems such as Japanese and Korean medicine. TCM says processes of the human body are interrelated and constantly interact with the environment. Therefore the theory looks for the signs of disharmony in the external and internal environment of a person in order to understand, treat and prevent illness and disease. TCM theory is based on a number of philosophical frameworks including the Theory of Yin-yang, the Five Elements, the human body Meridian system, Zang Fu theory, and others. Diagnosis and treatment are conducted with reference to these concepts. TCM does not usually operate within a scientific paradigm but some practitioners make efforts to bring practices into an evidence-based medicine framework. Herbal Medicine Together with acupuncture, herbal medicine is a major pillar of Chinese medicine. The Chinese pharmacopoeia lists over 6,000 different medicinal substances in terms of their properties and the disharmonies that they were helpful with. There are about 600 different herbs in common use today.
How It Feels
Insertion of the needles goes unnoticed by some, and to others feels like a small pinch followed by a sensation of tingling, numbness, ache, traveling warmth, or heaviness. Sometimes people feel Qi moving at distance from the point of insertion. Needles remain in place for twenty to forty minutes. Usually relaxation and an elevation of spirit accompanies treatment. It is as normal to want to continue resting as it is to be immediately energized. Some notice a relief of symptoms or feel more energetic in the days that follow treatment. Most people are pleased to find that sessions are not uncomfortable and even look forward to them.
What Acupuncture Can Treat
It would be most accurate to say that acupuncture treats disorders of Qi, Blood, and Moisture, and disturbances of the Organ Networks-but this does not correspond to the Western vocabulary of named diseases and conditions. Acupuncture may be helpful for: Withdrawal from addictions such as sugar, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine; stress reduction; post surgical recovery; chronic fatigue; the signs of aging; and decreased immunity. Some of the many conditions for which acupuncture is considered appropriate are listed by the World Health Organization of the United Nations:
- colds and flu
- Musculo-Skeletal and Neurologic:
- back pain
- stiff neck
- Bell’s palsy
- trigeminal neuralgia
- cerebral palsy
- high blood pressure
- diarrhea constipation
- ringing in the ears
- poor eyesight
- sinus infection
- sore throat
- hay fever
- Reproductive, Fertility and Genito-Urinary:
- pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- irregular period or cramps
- labour induction
- morning sickness
What can I expect after an acupuncture treatment?
It is as normal to be immediately energized as it is to want to continue resting. Often there is immediate relief of pain and/or discomfort and sometimes the effects of the treatment are more evident several days later. Because acupuncture is restorative and encourages the release of tension and worry, there is usually a sense of calm and renewal.
Can children be treated with acupuncture?
Yes, children as young as six-months-old can benefit from acupressure, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Treatment for children is gentle and safe using special techniques. Acupuncture needles are not always used and depends on the comfort and temperament of the child.
Can pregnant women be treated with acupuncture?
Yes! Acupuncture is effective for treating infertility, helping to avoid miscarriage, relieving morning sickness, and for other difficulties of pregnancy like edema, gestational diabetes, back or hip ache, and indigestion. Acupuncture is also effective for inducing and facilitating labor and can help correct mal-position of the fetus in the last trimester.
How many acupuncture treatments are necessary?
It will depend on how long a problem has existed. There is a proportional period of time required to correct it. For acute and more superficial problems, perhaps only one treatment is necessary. For one that has been in place for decades, it will take a relatively longer period of time to alter the entrenched pattern of imbalance. Because there is often a struggle between the need for change and the desire to maintain that which is familiar and stable, treatment outcomes are difficult to predict. Everyone wishes for a cure without change, for recovery without effort. The beneficial effects of acupuncture are cumulative. Frequent acupuncture treatments of proper duration over the course of an extended period of time will result in a greater effect achieved. Often people experience some benefit quickly, even though the ultimate results may require a more lengthy series of treatments. Many people come once a week or every other week until they reach a point at which a sustainable level of benefit is achieved. Fewer visits are required as symptoms improve.
What is Cupping?
Cupping uses glass cups which are applied to the skin creating a seal and suction on the skin. The cups can be moved up and down the area where they are applied (most often the back) or they can be static. Either way, the cupping brings the stagnation out of the muscles through the pores or to the leaving red or purple suction like marks on the area. Regardless of the cause or type, pain is due to a lack of oxygen to the cells. When the blood and lymph circulation is sluggish or compromised in an area, the cell’s waste by-products start to clog up the system. This is diagnosed by pain, limited mobility or blanching when the skin is pressed. Cupping can help to alleviate this pain and increase circulation in an area. Even though the marks left by cupping can look very painful, they are not. They will lessen within 24 hours and be completely gone within a week. These marks are not bruises, as a bruise occurs when there is a breakage of capillaries in the skin or when blood leaks from the damaged vessels. Bruises range in color from red-purple and eventually turn green, yellow or brown. The cupping process pulls some blood vessles to the surface along with the toxins and the mark left can be similar to a bruise, the defining difference being that cupping does not damage the blood vessels.