A Guide To Traditional Chinese Medicine

A Guide To Traditional Chinese Medicine
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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient healing technique that originated in China thousands of years ago. It examines a person's well-being from an angle different from Western medicine. These days, it's believed that many individuals use TCM treatment practices to deal with a range of medical ailments such as asthma, stroke, sinusitis, abdominal pain, and so on. TCM has been regarded by many as a viable alternative to Western-style healthcare. However, is TCM safe for anyone to try? Will ancient TCM healing methods work? Keeping yourself informed about general information concerning TCM with the guide below. Read on. 

What Are The Principles Behind TCM?

Western medicine focuses on various systems that require proper inputs and outputs. Think of it as how professional auto-repair hubs examine a car. That's how concrete and logical Western medicine is. On the other hand, TCM is based on neither science nor medicine but on energy, harmony, and balance. There are two fundamental principles behind TCM: Qi and Yin and Yang. 
  • Qi (Pronounced As 'Chi'): Qi refers to life energy. It's believed to flow throughout the body, moving and changing constantly. TCM focuses on developing treatments that help maintain and revitalize the Qi flow.
  • Yin And Yang: Yin and Yang mean everything has a touch of its opposite. Therefore, balance is essential. For example, taking medications may help alleviate pain, but too much of it can be dangerous to your health.
TCM suggests that the principles mentioned above play a crucial role in your body. You can be healthy if there's a balance between the Yin and Yang of your Qi. If they're unstable, you might feel sick. The main goal of TCM is to create a healthy and harmonious Qi flow.

What Are The Different Healing TCM Techniques?

TCM involves several healing techniques specifically developed to help people balance their Yin and Yang. Here are some of the practices used in TCM:

1. Herbal Medicine

TCM practitioners often use a variety of herbs to treat the person as a whole. These healing herbs not only help relieve patients' symptoms but also improve their overall condition. If you're interested in medicinal herbs, visit Blue Poppy or other similar providers online. Below are some of the herbs used in TCM and their benefits:
  • Ashwagandha: This medicinal plant reduces stress and anxiety, boosts energy, and relieves pain and inflammation. Nevertheless, side effects may include drowsiness, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Chamomile: This is a versatile herb due to its antioxidant, antidepressant, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, chamomile may cause allergic reactions from its use.
  • Ginger: This herb was once treated like gold 2,000 years ago due to its priceless medicinal properties. Ginger is known for its ability to reduce nausea and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective pain reliever.
  • Ginkgo: Also known as Ginkgo Biloba, ginkgo is one of the best-selling herbal remedies in the world. It's famous for its ability to treat asthma, chronic fatigue, tinnitus, and bronchitis.
  • Ginseng: This powerful herb is known for its numerous health benefits. Ginseng has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-obesity, and anti-cancer properties, making it useful even today.
  • Turmeric: This herb has been used for over 4,000 years due to its medicinal benefits. It's known for aiding in conditions like respiratory ailments, depression, digestive problems, allergies, and liver disease.
Note that these herbal remedies aren't cures for all of the medical conditions you may encounter. Also, they might cause side effects, especially when you're taking drugs. For example, chamomile may cause adverse reactions when it interacts with blood thinners and anti-rejection medications. For this reason, make sure to consult your doctor before taking herbal remedies.

2. Acupuncture

A Guide To Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture is a therapy that involves the insertion of ultra-thin needles into the body at varying depths and locations to stimulate sensory nerves. Its primary goal is to balance one's Qi, which is deemed responsible for different health concerns.Acupuncture may help relieve chronic pain and other physical ailments. Nevertheless, experts aren't sure how it exactly works. Some believe it balances life energy, while others think it's beneficial to one's nervous system.The benefits of acupuncture are as follows:
  • Acupuncture helps manage migraine, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and chronic pain.
  • It can target multiple health problems at the same time.
  • It can be combined with other treatments too.
  • Acupuncture is a low-risk therapy. It doesn't have as many side effects as other TCM treatments.
Nevertheless, acupuncture mustn't be used as an alternative to conventional doctor-recommended practices. Plus, it carries potential health risks, so make sure to seek medical advice from a primary care physician before undergoing acupuncture.Here are the possible risks of acupuncture:
  • Soreness, bruising, and bleeding can occur in the affected areas.
  • It may cause infection, especially when unsterilized needles are used.
  • It may damage an internal organ, although such a case rarely occurs.
Acupuncture needles are regulated as medical devices. They must be non-toxic, sterile, and labeled 'disposable' or 'for one use only' by a manufacturer or used by a licensed acupuncturist.

3. Tai Chi 

Tai chi is a gentle exercise focusing on breathing and slow body movements. It helps people maintain balance, flexibility, and strength to improve their health.Tai chi is often referred to as 'medication in motion' or 'meditation in motion.' Plenty of evidence supports the ability of this practice to treat and prevent various health issues. These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fibromyalgia, and depression.Also, tai chi is known to reduce stress. In a 2018 study, researchers found that this mind-body practice provided the same stress-relieving benefits as exercise. Plus, researchers noted that tai chi might be superior to other forms of stress-reducing exercise due to its focused breathwork and meditation. Yet more studies are required to conclude such findings.Tai chi has five different styles, and each can be personalized to meet one's goals and fitness level. Here are the five styles of tai chi and their focus:
  • Yang-Style Tai Chi: This places emphasis on relaxation and graceful movements. The Yang-style is a great way to get started with tai chi.
  • Hao-Style Tai Chi: This rare tai chi style focuses on accurate body movements and internal strength.
  • Wu-Style Tai Chi: This focuses on small movements and is practiced in a slow but graceful way.
  • Chen Style Tai Chi: This style uses slow and fast movements, which can be challenging for beginners.
  • Sun-Style Tai Chi: This is similar to Chen-style tai chi but less physically demanding, with fewer kicks, crouching, and punching. 
If you're interested in tai chi, you may enroll in a class so you can be supervised and coached by a professional instructor. They can help correct improper posture that may prevent you from harnessing its health benefits.

4. Cupping 

Cupping is an alternative medicine in which hot cups are placed on the skin to create suction. It's said to be helpful in managing pain, improving blood circulation, relieving inflammation, and promoting relaxation and well-being.The unique types of cups used in cupping therapy can be made of:
  • Bamboo;
  • Earthenware;
  • Silicon;
  • Glass; and others.
Cupping might be in demand right now, but it's nothing new. In fact, cupping dates back to ancient Egypt, the Middle East, and China. And one of the oldest books discovered describes how cupping was used in ancient Egypt 3,000 years ago.During the therapy, the cupping specialist will set a flammable substance on fire in a cup. As soon as the flame goes out, the heated cup will be turned upside down and then placed on top of the skin for three minutes. A vacuum seal is created when the cup cools down. This causes the skin to rise and appear red.Keep in mind that cupping may cause side effects, particularly in the area where cups touch the skin. These include the following:
  • Bruises;
  • Mild discomfort;
  • Skin infection;
  • Burns; and more. 
Do note that cupping is relatively safe as long as you receive the therapy from a trained professional.

5. Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a therapy involving mugwort leaves, a spongy herb known for enhancing the effects of acupuncture. These leaves are burned near the surface of the skin to apply heat.Moxibustion aims to improve blood circulation, stimulate Qi flow, and promote better health and well-being. According to TCM experts, boosting Qi flow can help your body combat various health issues, including chronic pain and digestive disorders.TCM practitioners believe that the heat produced during the therapy can help improve the flow of energy across the body. They think that an obstruction in the flow of energy can lead to physical and mental issues too. This is why moxibustion is utilized to treat the following:
  • Back pain;
  • Fatigue;
  • Ulcers;
  • Migraines;
  • Tendonitis;
  • Muscle stiffness;
  • Headaches; and so on. 
Nevertheless, moxibustion may cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, skin patches, coughing (exposure to smoke), and premature birth (for pregnant women). Therefore, it's best to seek medical advice from a primary care physician before receiving the therapy.

Final Thoughts

TCM has been used for thousands of years to treat and prevent a wide range of physical and mental ailments. But it mustn't be used as a total replacement for the medical treatment your physician prescribes to you. Furthermore, consult your doctor before undergoing any of the TCM therapies discussed above.