Practiced for millennia, TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine has actually only recently become known in the West during the time when President Nixon went to China in 1971 and was treated with acupuncture. This type of Oriental medicine considers the emotional, physical, and spiritual as closely interrelated, and, so it is used to treat psychological and emotional problems, such as schizophrenia as well as physical conditions like osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and back pain.

To give you a better idea of how TCM works in schizophrenia therapy, we need to give you a quick overview of some basic TCM concepts and examples. According to this holistic medicinal system, everything is energy or qi that can manifest in various forms; this is a perspective that jibes with modern quantum physics.

A part of nature, his community, nature, and the universe, man is, at the same time, a microcosm of the universe. Mind, body, and spirit are considered as interacting, and, as one with each other, and healed. Man is affected by the forces of nature including his community, the foods he eats, the wind, and temperature. Man is healthy only to the extent that he/she is in balance and harmony with himself/herself, the community, and nature. Illness develops when this balance is lost. TCM provides modalities that aim to restore harmony and these modalities gives less emphasis on treating illnesses than on returning health.

According to TCM, everything has two contradicting but inseparable and relative aspects: yin and yang. Yin’s attributes include negative, female, front, below, interior, and dark while Yang represents positive, male, back, above, exterior, and light. Yang cannot exist without yin and vice versa, and over time each becomes the other. Change is constant and everything is relative.

From the perspective of TCM, everything has also 5 processes or characteristics that depict the dynamics of relationships. Those characteristics are the Five Phases or Five Elements of Water, Wood, Metal, Earth, and Fire. Water represents resting, death, or storage; Wood, the birth process; Metal, ripening or harvesting; Earth, transformation; and Fire, growth. Each of these phases have other aspects that correspond to the seasons, bodily organs, directions, weather conditions, smells, colors, tastes, sounds, and emotions. Emotions and organs, relate to a certain Phase. Patience and anger and the gallbladder and liver relate to Wood; love and hate, the small intestine and heart to Fire; empathy and worry, the spleen and abdomen to Earth; courage and sadness, large intestine and lungs to Metal; and calmness and fear, gallbladder and kidneys to Water. People living in the West can feel some affiliation in the Fire element of TCM as it relates to hate and love, the heart, and the color red.

Energy or qi moves throughout the body within energy channels called meridians. The meridians interconnect various parts of the body with one another, including the bodily organs. There are hundreds of points called acupoints or pressure points wherein qi can be accessed in the meridians. Each organ has specific relationships with other organs. The correct flow of qi in the body that also encompasses the flow to and from the various organs will determine a person’s state of health. All the different conditions outside (the environment) and inside a person can affect the flow of qi. The internal factors that can affect a person’s qi are his/her temperature, nutrients, will, and emotions. External factors include the environment, foods, life experiences, heat, wind, and weather.

Sickness can be brought on by several internal and external factors affecting the body. They can include stagnant or weak qi, or the emotions. For instance, “little vital capacity or poor Lung development may directly lead to depression, sadness, and a propensity to become pessimistic in ideas and attitude. If qi movement in the Heart meridians is blocked or when Heart-qi is weak, the person may be unable to fully understand the world that may cause him/her to often lose his/her direction in life. The consequences of all these limitations may include mental disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, and anxiety. External factors may result in excessive emotion such as chronic or acute intense fear, anger, or sadness. They can disrupt the normal flow of blood and qi, and lead to physical disturbances such as depression (bereavement due to loss of a loved one), or PTSD or post-traumatic stress syndrome (due to natural disaster or war).

TCM diagnostic procedures include a review of the medical history, and reading the tongue and the pulse of the patient. The symptoms are examined, along with the duration of the condition, emotional features, physical condition, and constitution of the patient. A reading of the pulse can mean reading three different positions on each wrist, three different levels at each position that considers 28 distinct qualities, including rhythm and rate. Tongue examination includes observing the texture and color of the different areas of the tongue that represent the different parts of the body. This diagnostic process will help the acupuncturist determine the meridians and organs involved, the type of disharmony or disturbance, the factors that caused the disturbance occurred and how it arose, and the influence and impact it has on the mind and body.

A differentiation of the symptoms is applied which means the acupuncturist determines how, why, and where the symptoms were derived and not just what the symptoms are. Patients who, for example, were diagnosed with depression in mainstream psychotherapy can manifest the same symptoms including a weak appetite, tiredness, and a lost interest in life. But, in TCM, after pulse and tongue examination, the acupuncturist may discover that the depression in some patients is due to qi deficiency of qi of the Spleen and Lung, while in other patients the depression may be brought about by blood and qi disturbance, Liver qi stagnation, deficiency of Kidney-qi, etc., which may create new pathologies in the body. Excessive emotions, for example, can interfere with the movement of Liver-qi. When the flow of qi is inhibited, heat is created. This directly affects the Heart and this creates Heart-Fire. If a person with an already dominant heat constitution develops this problem, the heat may turn into strong Fire that can manifest in dryness of the throat and mouth, sleeping problems, concentration problems, and a quick temper. Moreover, when the body fluids and yin become depleted, they become insufficient to control the Fire and yang which makes the Fire become more aggressive and active. This causes the patient to become more restless and angrier without any reason, or the patient may develop insomnia or become hyperactive, such as in manic disorder. The Fire, in the meantime, eats up the blood and causes blood stagnation causing the stuck blood to block the Liver and Heart meridians. When this happens the patient suffers from delirium and paranoid obsessive ideas.

Various TCM techniques can be utilized. Acupuncture treatment will involve the insertion of needles into specific acupoints to help stabilize the flow of qi. Massage can be used to manually control the flow of energy. Moxibustion uses heat at specific meridian points. For adequate qi, diet and herbal medicines are used to guaranty proper nutrients. Meditation facilitates balance and harmony via the mind. Qi gong exercises apply body motion to do the same.

Given the person’s specific constitution and symptoms as well as his/her life experience and temperament, a customized plan of treatment is made. However, some procedures are commonly used for various symptoms besides the required customized therapy. Sadness, for example, common in mental disturbances, can develop from a disturbance of Lung-qi, when, for example, a great loss or disappointment in life occurs. Kidney-qi deficiency can cause Lung-qi deficiency which leads to sadness. This is because the Kidney supports the Lung. Thus, to stimulate Lung qi, psychotherapy accompanied by moxibustion, acupuncture, breathing or physical exercise is recommended for a person who is sufficiently fit.

For the symptoms of schizophrenia and visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as to alleviate lactation, tinnitus, dizziness, and headaches and other side effects associated with the use of neuroleptics, specific acupuncture points can be used. One can also use acupuncture in Linwood for schizophrenic symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, anger, frustration, fear, agitation, obsessions, mania, and insomnia.