With a history stretching back thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a unique system of healthcare that can be applied to all manifestations of illness and disease. Although an ancient system, it has continually evolved along with the causes of many illnesses. Today much empirical Western scientific research is being undertaken to better understand the mechanisms and efficacy of TCM from a Western viewpoint, with positive results.
In China and other parts of Asia, TCM forms part of the mainstream medical system and is used in hospitals in conjunction with Western medicine. In Australia, TCM practitioners must be registered with the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and have a minimum Bachelor degree qualification. Many private health insurance providers will cover TCM, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine under their extras policies.
TCM is based on the premise that good health relies on the restoration and maintenance of harmony and order within the individual and their environment. In health there is an abundant supply of qi (vital energy) and blood, which flows evenly and rhythmically throughout the body nourishing the tissues, organs and brain. If the flow of qi and blood becomes blocked or if there is an inadequate supply, then the body fails to maintain balance and order and disease manifests. This can result from stress, overwork, poor diet, disease pathogens, environmental conditions, hereditary and other lifestyle factors.
The primary treatments used in TCM include acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage. However, other techniques such as gua sha, moxibustion, cupping and electro-acupuncture (see descriptions below) may also be used. Diet therapy, exercise and lifestyle management are also important aspects of TCM. Several of these techniques may be employed in each treatment, focusing on the underlying condition as well as treating the presenting symptoms. Treatments will often vary from session to session.
TCM Techniques Explained
Acupuncture involves the stimulation of specific acupoints on the body using thin metal needles manipulated either by the hands or electrical stimulation (electro-acupuncture). Acupuncture treats pain by regulating the body’s physiological processes from a local and systemic level. Acupuncture is used to treat internal disharmonies caused by organ and neurological disorders and has a profound ability to reduce stress. While similar to dry needling, acupuncture differs in its basis on the Eastern (compared to Western) philosophy of medicine.
Chinese Herbal Medicine utilises the Chinese Materia Medica, a pharmacological reference book that describes thousands of medicinal substances, primarily plants, but also some minerals and animal products. Herbs are combined to create an individualised formula to suit your specific condition. They can be administered in granules, pills or liquid form. Creams can also be used for external conditions. Herbal medicine can treat internally based disorders, externally contracted illnesses and musculoskeletal conditions.
Massage may include soft tissue and mobilisation techniques that address muscle tension, trigger points, scar tissue and joint conditions. Abdominal massage and lymphatic massage can aid digestion and moving fluids. Massage is often used in conjunction with other TCM techniques. For more information on the various types of massage offered at MOSIC please visit our Remedial Massage page.
Cupping involves applying glass or plastic cups to the skin from which air is then suctioned out. This process draws and holds the skin and superficial muscles inside the cup. Although cupping is a non-invasive treatment, its effects can be felt up to 10 cm below the tissue surface. This aids in releasing toxins, moving stagnant qi and blood, activating the lymph flow and clearing colon blockages. Cupping can be used to treat musculoskeletal pain, gastrointestinal disorders and asthma. The technique is also especially useful for treating common colds and upper respiratory infections.
Gua Sha (Scraping Therapy) is typically performed by rubbing a smooth edged instrument across the skin. Gua sha can reduce fever and alter the course of an acute infectious illness, as well as reduce inflammatory symptoms in chronic illness. This technique is also used to release myofascial tension and reduce stress induced hormones.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy applied to the body to improve circulation, drive out cold and improve blood stagnation in the tissue. Moxibustion can be used in conjunction with acupuncture to treat chronic injuries and chronic illness. This treatment can also be used to drive out pathogens from body during acute stage infection.
TCM is especially good for treating
- Pain (both acute and chronic)
- Common colds, lung infections, allergies
- Gynecological conditions
- Digestive complaints
- Chronic fatigue and post viral fatigue
- Skin conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
- Post surgery recovery
- Sports injury
- Depression, anxiety, stress
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
TCM and Osteopathy work extremely well together and TCM can be used safely alongside Western intervention and pharmaceutical treatments. If you have any queries about Traditional Chinese medicine please contact Lee Christison, our registered TCM practitioner.
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