TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine is the term given to a wide variety of therapies that have originated from several parts of East Asia. Although TCM is classified as an alternative therapy in Western countries, it’s been a widely accepted and long-standing medical practice in several East Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and China. But what exactly is TCM?

Basic Definition

TCM is basically all about balance. It is a holistic health system that considers and treats the spirit, body, and mind as one. Any single part of an entire human being or animal that becomes unbalanced – in both the meta-physical and physical sense – will lead to illness.

TCM owes its origins to the theory of yin and yang (which has been integrated into Taoist philosophy). Again, all about balance, Yin & Yang lies on the theory that all developments in the universe can be divided into two complementary yet opposite parts. Some common examples of these include dark/light, moon/sun, cold/hot, female/male, etc. Strictly speaking, there is neither good nor bad in Yin & Yang, rather both are components of the whole. TCM strives to maintain health and balance in the process.

Meridians and Chi

Chi or Qi pertains to the body’s vital energy. It’s usually mistaken to be the “soul” or “spirit” when it fact, it’s more akin to energetic blood that circulates within your body. Chi moves inside your body through energy channels called meridians and through other channels in your body.

Learning the specifics of chi alone can take an entire lifetime to finish. The only thing you need to know is that chi is the energy in your body that’s very important to Chinese medicine and circulates like blood throughout your body.

Treatments Offered in Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic healing system that includes therapies such as:

Acupuncture in Bellingham: Acupuncture is an ancient healing that involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific points along the body. Chinese acupuncture mainly uses the aforementioned meridians, although these days, practitioners have added their own spin to their techniques. Acupuncture is mainly for the treatment of nervous-system disorders, psychological disorders, and chronic pain. Its hard core adherents will recommend it for just about any condition.

Herbal Therapy: This involves the use of medicinal mushrooms, roots, herbs, and other natural products. Some minerals and exotic animal parts may also be used but these tend to be shunned and outlawed in almost all countries except in communist China. There are herbal medicines that are known to treat practically every condition and illness known to Western medicine, and even some that aren’t.

Gua sha: Gua sha is one unusual treatment that involves rubbing of the skin using smooth bits of tusk, bone, stone, or jade. It’s a rather harsh treatment in which the patient usually ends up with painful red marks or bruising on the skin. Be that is at may, the therapeutic benefits of this therapy is quite broad and can be used for everything from cholera to hot weather. If you have a low threshold for pain, this not a treatment for you!

Cupping: An unusual type of detoxification/massage cupping is a therapy involving the use of special glass cups that have the air inside heated by smoke or flame. The cups are placed on the back while they’re still warm inside where they then draw the skin into them. In some modern clinics cups with pumps installed are used. Cupping is designed to purify the body of toxins and should not be used on people planning to go to the beach because it tends huge red circular marks on the back.

Breathing and Physical Exercises – Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners encourages their patients to occupy themselves in healthy exercise. In order to promote the balance and flow of Chi, only the right exercises will suffice. Martial arts, meditation, yoga, qi gong, and tai chi, all are deemed to be great exercises, as is various breathing exercises and meditation.

Is Traditional Chinese Medicine Safe?

Of course Traditional Chinese Medicine is safe. That is, if you use it correctly. But like any other therapy, if used incorrectly, TCM can be potentially risky and dangerous. Before embarking on a new treatment, talk to a health care specialist first.

Another disadvantage of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that is also less regulated. Con and scam artists abound, therefore, it’s important to check the credentials of any potential TCM practitioner. This absence of regulation also means that a lot of Chinese medical practices have not been vetted by the scientific community which then implies that the treatments can range from useless or harmful or outright dangerous to beneficial. When it comes to TCM, let common sense be your guide.

Will Traditional Chinese Medicine Work for You?

The simple answer to that is maybe. Between skyrocketing medical costs, doctor errors, and drug recalls more and more people are turning to alternative modes of treatment. A lot of these therapies benefit patients in very many ways. However, some people believe that TCM is not the best choice for their problem. For people suffering from acute disorders such as appendicitis or from really bad conditions like cancer, Western medicine still has a better track record. But this doesn’t mean these modalities can’t be complemented by Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for even greater effect. In the end, the choice is up to your healthcare plan and to you.