What is Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient medical system developed in China and dates back to 5,000 years. Some of the basic theories of TCM were adapted from different philosophies like Taoism (Lao Tzu-Tao Te Ching) and Confucianism. These are not religions but rather philosophies to live by, guidelines of how to be a good person, and how to live in society.
An important concept to understand is the theory of Holism. It means that the body is viewed as a whole organic energetic system where every part is inter-connected: mind, body, and spirit. All these parts of being must be working together in unison to keep the body functioning properly. Also, there must be a harmonious relationship between the human body and the external environment. What happens in nature can directly or indirectly affect the human body. It is theorized that we are a micro-system from the macro-system, meaning that we are made up of energy for the universe and the energy of the earth.
The fundamental theories of the Chinese medicine are rooted in theories of yin-yang, 5 elements and Qi.
The human body is a smaller version of the larger universe.
Yin-Yang are opposing yet complementary forces in nature, supporting health and wellbeing, and disease is a result from an imbalance between these forces.
5 Elements (Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, Earth) symbolically represent all phenomena from the stages of life, human physiology, and how it changes with disease or imbalances. These elements are the energies systems within the body and are connected to related organs within the body. An example is the Water element is related to the kidneys and bladder.
Qi is a vital energy force that flows through all things living and performs multiple functions in our body to maintain health.
Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system with its own extensive diagnostics and has a variety of medical therapies. The practitioner is looking for signs and symptoms that create a pattern or multiple patterns by listening, observing the patient, asking specific questions related to all the systems within the body, and palpating the body and meridian. Once we understand where the root causes of the imbalances; we will treat the cause in order to restore balance and health.
Optimal health is a state of oneness with self and nature and allowing all parts of life to be integrated. The body has the ability to adapt to changes and re-balance itself easily. The body is always striving for harmony and homeostasis.
Disease occurs when there are imbalances within any of the 5 elements manifesting as patterns of symptoms. If balance is not restored within that element it will eventually affect other elements because there is no separation but only oneness. This is the theory of Holism.
As a Chinese medicine practitioner, we use different modalities to treat disease like acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, herbs, nutrition, massage, cupping, gua sha, Qi Gong exercises, and meditation. Ultimately, the goal is to return the body to homeostasis and prevent future illnesses.
So what makes Chinese medicine so effective? We view your state of health as an individual organic energetic system comprised of different energy systems (5 elements) that work together to keep the body in homeostasis. When imbalances arise in the body, it will manifest as symptoms. The practitioner will diagnosis where the energetic imbalances are in the body and will implement a treatment plan specific to restoring your health. To better understand this way of treating disease and illness, lets use an example. Say two patients come in presenting with a common cold. They both will have similar symptoms but they can have different treatments. The treatments might vary according to acupuncture points, herbal formulas, and the use of cupping or gua sha. This variation can be due to each patient having different imbalances giving rise to attracting a cold. We do not group people in a box that are presenting with the same disease or symptoms. You are a unique and dynamic individual requiring a specific treatment plan that is catered to your needs.