Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

TCM is a fully institutionalised part of Chinese health care and is widely used in western medicine. TCM includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, Tuina, food therapy, and physical exercises, such as Qigong. Like western medicine, TCM is a general practice that can treat a variety of diseases and illnesses. TCM is mainly divided into internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, and pediatrics in Chinese Medicine Hospitals.

Yin and Yang

The ancient Chinese proposed that every living thing is sustained by a balance of two opposing forces of energy, called Yin and Yang. Together, they make up the life essence, or Qi – a type of energy that flows through the body via invisible channels called meridians. Half of certain organs and meridians are governed by Yin and the other half by Yang. When Yin and Yang are out of balance in the body, this causes a blockage of Qi and a subsequent illness. Yin and Yang imbalances can be caused by stress, pollution, poor diet, emotional upsets, or infection. For diagnostic purposes, Yin and Yang are further subdivided into interior and exterior, hot and cold, deficiency and excess.

The five elements in Chinese herbal medicine
The TCM philosophy proposes that everything, including organs of the body – is composed of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. The herbs are similarly classified into the five tastes – sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour – which correspond to the five elements. For example, since the skin is a metal element Yang organ, it would be treated with a pungent herb.

TCM treatment principles:
Prevent first before a disease is formed
Treat before a problem occurs
Prevent transmission after a problem is formed
Prevent recurrence after recovery

The Traditional Chinese Medicine approach
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is about bringing balance back to the body through a holistic approach. TCM provides acupuncture, Tuina, cupping, Guasha, herbal supplements, and lifestyle advice to help our clients achieve optimal overall health. The practitioner will work with the patient to determine the most appropriate techniques. A management plan will be discussed and agreed to with the patient. If you are uncomfortable with needles your practioner can discuss other therapeutic techniques.

ACC service: will only cover acupuncture and electrical acupuncture.
Non-ACC service: acupuncture, Tuina, Cupping, herbal supplements, and lifestyle advice

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the key components of Traditional Chinese medicine, which has been around over 2500 years. It is based on stimulating the points on “channels and collaterals” that lie throughout the body.

Acupuncture is an effective, drug-free practice. It is safe when practiced by trained professionals offering physical and emotional healing and support. It involves inserting extremely thin, single-use needles into precise points around the body. This allows the rebalancing of Qi that flows around your body.

What TCM can assist with the following conditions: 

  • Musculoskeletal: neck pain, cervical spondylosis, frozen shoulder, acute lumbar sprain, sciatica, chronic low back pain, tennis elbow, ankle sprain, wrist pain, tenosynovitis, and various postpartum pain. 
  • Gynaecological: irregular and painful period, menopause syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Neurological: headache, migraine, vertigo, stroke sequela, facial paralysis.
  • Mental health: anxiety, depression, insomnia.
  • Gastrointestinal: irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, acute and chronic gastritis, constipation and diarrhea, 
  • Respiratory: sinusitis, common cold, COPD.
  • Toothache, pain after tooth extraction. 

Treatment process

Your first appointment will be an hour, but subsequent visits may take 30 to 45 minutes. Your practitioner will discuss your management plan with you in your initial consultation. During the session, the patient sits on a chair or lies down on a massage table. 

If you agree to acupuncture the practioner will insert needles at pressure points that may or may not be close to where the patient is actually experiencing the pain or discomfort. The acupuncturist may move, twirl, heat, or apply electric pulses to the needles, depending on your conditions. The acupuncturist may assist you with some movement if your condition requires it. Or the patient simply lies still while the needles remain in place for up to 20 minutes, at which point the acupuncturist will painlessly remove them.

What does the needle feel like?
Most people report feeling minimal pain as the needle is inserted. 

The needle is inserted to the point that produces a sensation of pressure or ache. You may feel a small prick with each needle. The needles may cause some muscle sensations, such as dull ache or tingling. 

Needles may be heated during the treatment, or a mild electric current may be applied to them. Some people report acupuncture makes them feel energized. However, the needles can cause temporary soreness like post-massage. 

Studies have found that electroacupuncture may help your body release mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into your bloodstream. MSCs are adult stem cells mostly found in your bone marrow. MSCs help your body create different types of tissues. They also have healing properties

Electrical acupuncture

Like traditional acupuncture, electroacupuncture uses needles placed in the same locations. Then, a small electrode is attached to the needles. A small amount of electricity runs through the electrode and gives a slight vibration or soft hum during treatment.

The electrode gives off the effect of your acupuncturist activating the acupuncture point with their hands. This provides the right amount of stimulation during the treatment. The treatment is shorter as the electrodes activate the acupuncture points quicker.

Electroacupuncture activates your sympathetic nerve fibers. By activating these fibers, your body releases endogenous opioids such as endorphins, which help to reduce inflammation. The activated nerve fibers may also help to reduce feelings of persistent pain. This makes it an appropriate treatment option for chronic pain and stress.

Tuina (Therapeutic Massage)

Tuina therapy is an external therapy in Chinese medicine.
Guided by the basic theory of traditional Chinese medicine, various standard manual techniques of Tuina therapy are used as the therapeutic means to function on the acupoints or regions of the body to realise the goals of preventing and treating diseases.

In Chinese literature of the ancient and modern times that there are more than three hundred types of written manual techniques.

Benefit of Tuina

In terms of the local areas of the limbs, the therapeutic effects of Tuina therapy is thought to circulate Qi, activate blood, disperse blood stasis, diminish swelling, soothe the tendons and alleviate spasms, treat pain by relaxation, regulate and lubricate the joints, and adjust the spine for reposition. In terms of the whole body, Tuina is supposed to dredge the meridians and collaterals, regulate and harmonise Qi and Blood, balance Yin and Yang, regulate Zangfu organs, support the constitution, correct deficiency, protect the body surface and expel the pathogens.  Tuina can assist with the following conditions:
  • Musculoskeletal: stiff neck, cervical spondylopathy, frozen shoulder, acute lumbar sprain, chronic low back pain, tennis elbow, ankle sprain, and various joint pain. 
  • Internal: facial paralysis, stroke sequela, insomnia, stomach pain, constipation common cold, COPD.
  • Gynaecological:, irregular and painful period, menopause syndrome, 
  • Neurological: headache, migraine, vertigo.

Cupping

Cupping, or cupping therapy, is when glass, plastic, or silicone suction cups are applied to various parts of the body. The cups create a vacuum that gently suctions up the skin, lifting connective tissues. The cups can be left in specific positions, or oil can be applied to the skin, and the cups can be glided over the area, having a very relaxing massage effect. With static cupping, you will often get circular marks that resemble bruises due to the increased blood flow to the area. This is a normal part of cupping therapy and helps with the rehabilitation of the site by bringing nutrients for healing. The marks are not painful like normal bruises, and they will disappear within a few days. It is recommended not to take a bath/shower for 4-6 hours after cupping. 

Benenfits of Cupping

  • Increased circulation: it encourages the flow of blood and lymph to the area, bringing with it essential minerals and nutrients. This may help with healing, numbness, and possibly scar tissue appearance and lack of sensation.
  • Relax tight muscles and help loosen myofascial adhesions. 
  • Reduce stress: cupping therapy allows the person’s parasympathetic nervous system to take over and helps reduce stress and tension.

Gua Sha

Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing method in which a trained professional uses a smooth-edged tool to stroke your skin while they press on it. This motion raises small, red, rash-like dots that show under your skin called petechiae. 

 

Gua Sha is usually used when a patient has pain or is associated with an acute or chronic disorder. There may be aching, tenderness and/or a knotty feeling in the muscles. Palpation reveals Sha when normal finger pressure on a patient’s skin causes blanching that is slow to fade. In addition to helping resolve musculoskeletal pain, Gua Sha is used to treat any acute or chronic disorder involving pain, congestion of Qi, and blood. Gua Sha is usually used in conjunction with TCM Tuina, acupuncture, and cupping therapy. 

Benefits of Gua Sha

In most cases, the patient feels an immediate improvement in their condition, particularly in their pain or sense of constraint. Gua Sha moves stuck Qi and blood, releases the exterior mimicking sweating, and moves fluids. It is a valuable treatment for both external and internal pain and facilitates the resolution of both acute and chronic disorders.

Is Gua Sha Safe?
Gua Sha is a safe technique. Knowing when to use it and what to expect from the technique is important. After treatment, it is best to be moderate your activity and or rest. It is recommended not to take a bath/shower for 4-6 hours after Gua Sha.

Herb, diet, and lifestyle advice

The underlying principles of TCM are very different from traditional Western notions about health, illness, and the workings of the body.

Chinese herbs are prescribed to normalise imbalanced Qi that runs through invisible meridians in the body. Whether or not the philosophy is believed, the studies have shown Chinese herbal medicines to be successful in assisting in treating a range of disorders, particularly gynaecological and gastrointestinal disorders.
Herbs used in Chinese medicine
Chinese herbal medicines are mainly plant-based, but some preparations include minerals or animal products. Different herbs have different properties and can balance particular parts of the body. Prescribing a particular herb or concoction of herbs means the practitioner’s diagnosis has to take into account the state of the patient’s Yin and Yang. Chinese herbal medicine is known to be found in ancient China by Shennong, who wrote Chinese Materia Medica after examining the medicinal value of thousands of herbs. Most of the herbs are special plant-based, using leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, and bark; some are mineral and animal products. Each herb is analysed and picked specifically for its desired effect on the body. A combination of the different herbs is intricately customised to help our patient’s individual health needs.  

Additional treatment and advice
Your practitioner might advise you to make specific changes in your diets, such as avoiding spicy foods or alcohol. Foods are believed to either ‘heat’ or ‘cool’ the constitution, making dietary changes an important part of the healing process. Acupuncture might also be used to treat disrupted Qi.

Special considerations
Herbs can act on the body as powerfully as pharmaceutical drugs and should be treated with the same caution and respect. Some herbs can be toxic in high doses, while others can cause allergic reactions. Never abandon your regular medication or alter the dose without the knowledge and approval of your doctor.

What should I do before treatment?
It is better to avoid drinking coffee or eating a large meal immediately prior to TCM treatment but DO NOT arrive at the clinic feeling hungry or under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs. Cigarettes, caffeine, or recreational drugs make it more difficult for your practitioner to diagnose your condition accurately.

What should I do after a treatment?
Energetic changes in the body will continue for a while after the treatment, so it is preferable to avoid any strenuous activity immediately after treatment. To avoid undoing the effects of the treatment, it is also better not to consume any alcohol or recreational drugs. Enough water intake is helpful. 

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