What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of primary health care that includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, remedial massage (anmo tuina), exercise and breathing therapy (such as qigong), and diet and lifestyle advice. In Australia, the most popular forms of TCM health care are acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has an uninterrupted history of development in China and other parts of East Asia dating back thousands of years. The primary feature of modern TCM is the premise that good health relies on the restoration and maintenance of harmony, balance and order to the individual.
TCM takes a wholistic approach to understanding normal function and disease processes and focuses as much on the prevention of illness as it does on the treatment.
Acupuncture – a time-honoured medicine
The origins of acupuncture in China can be traced back at least 2000 years, making it one of the oldest and most long-standing health care systems in the world. Today, acupuncture is an effective, natural and increasingly popular form of health care that is being used by people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds.
Acupuncture takes a wholistic approach to understanding normal function and disease processes and focuses as much on the prevention of illness as on the treatment.
What is qi & how does it affect the body?
When healthy, an abundant supply of qi (pronounced chee) or “life energy” flows through the body’s meridians (a network of invisible channels through the body). If the flow of qi in the meridians becomes blocked or there is an inadequate supply of qi, then the body fails to maintain harmony, balance and order, and disease or illness follows. This can result from stress, overwork, poor diet, disease pathogens, weather and environmental conditions, and other lifestyle factors and becomes evident to TCM practitioners through observable signs of bodily dysfunction. TCM practitioners look carefully for these signs of health and dysfunction, paying particular attention not only to the presenting signs and symptoms, but also to the medical history, general constitution, and the pulse and tongue.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s meridians to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of qi through the individual. The practitioner may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, including moxibustion, cupping, laser therapy, electro-stimulation and massage, in order to re-establish the flow of qi.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
What is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine is part of an integrated system of primary health care, known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has an uninterrupted history of development dating back thousands of years in China and other parts of East Asia.
Traditional health care & a modern profession
The origins of Chinese herbal medicine in China can be traced back at least 5000 years, making it one of the oldest and most long-standing health care systems in the world.
In the intervening millennia, the practice of Chinese herbal medicine and TCM has developed and matured to become what it is today – a natural and wholistic system of primary health care that is being used by people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds to effectively treat a wide range of chronic and acute health problems.
Wholistic health care
Chinese herbal medicine takes an wholistic approach to understanding normal function and disease processes and focuses as much on the prevention of illness as on the treatment.
Most diseases or illnesses present with a core set of recognisable signs and symptoms, but the actual presentation of a particular disease or illness will vary from person to person. For this reason, people with similar health conditions may be provided with quite different Chinese herbal medicine prescriptions.
A qualified practitioner is able to prescribe a Chinese herbal formula that specifically matches and treats your individual health problem. As your condition changes and improves with treatment, the Chinese herbal treatment is also adjusted and modified until the desired health outcome is achieved.
What substances are used in Chinese herbal medicine?
Today, there are more than 450 substances commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine – most are of plant origin though some animal and mineral substances may also be used. You may find some in your kitchen, such as ginger, garlic and cinnamon, while others such as chrysanthemum and peony flowers, are more likely to be found in your garden! Many of the substances used will be unfamiliar to you and have names like chai hu (bupleurum), di huang (rehmannia), and huang qi (astragalus). Some substances that were used traditionally are no longer part of modern professional Chinese herbal medicine practice. For example, traditional remedies that are derived from endangered species have been replaced by other substances with similar actions.
How is Chinese herbal medicine prescribed?
Chinese herbal medicines are prescribed either singly or made into formulae which take into account the individual therapeutic action of each herb and well as the effects when combined together. A well constructed formula maximises the effectiveness for treating a particular condition, while counteracting and minimising the unwanted effects of an individual herb.
What conditions does Chinese herbal medicine treat?
In addition to providing effective treatment for a wide range of health disorders, Chinese herbal medicine may also be used to assist with general health maintenance and disease prevention. By strengthening and enhancing normal body functions, the immune system is boosted and a general sense of well-being promoted.
A snapshot of conditions typically treated with Chinese herbal medicine includes:
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Loss of appetite and common digestive disorders
- Constipation and diarrhoea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Common cold and influenza
- Chronic headaches
- Skin disorders
- Fluid retention
- Anxiety, depression and stress
- Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Premenstrual syndrome and painful menstruation
- Excessive menstruation
- Impotence and prostate disorders
- Disorders associated with menopause
Please contact CMAA if you would like further information on Chinese herbal medicine, or if you would like the contact details of qualified Chinese herbal medicine practitioners in your local area.