Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for more than 2,000 years. TCM is based on a belief in yin and yang, defined as opposing energies, such as earth and heaven, winter and summer, and happiness and sadness. When yin and yang are in balance, you feel relaxed and energized. Out of balance, however, yin and yang negatively affect your health.
Practitioners also believe that there is a life force or energy, known as qi (pronounced "chee"), in everybody. For yin and yang to be balanced and for the body to be healthy, qi must be balanced and flowing freely. When there is too little or too much qi in one of the body's energy pathways, called meridians, or when the flow of qi is blocked, it causes illness. The ultimate goal of TCM treatment is to balance yin and yang by promoting the natural flow of qi. In an interesting analogy, often used to explain its nature, qi is described as the wind in a sail, we do not see the wind directly, but we are aware of its presence as it fills the sail.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Some of the conditions for which TCM is known to be helpful (strong research) include:
Male and female fertility disorders
Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome
Recurrent cystitis, inflammation of the bladder
Nausea and vomiting
TCM may also be an effective treatment (moderate research) for the following:
Cancer, especially colorectal cancer
Pain, including childbirth and abdominal
Infections (respiratory, bladder, vaginal)
How does TCM work?
Disease, alterations in the normal flow of qi such that yin and yang are imbalanced, is thought to have three major causes: external or environmental factors, your internal emotions, and lifestyle factors, such as diet. Through the use of its therapeutic modalities, TCM stimulates the body's own healing mechanisms. Practices used in TCM include:
Moxibustion, burning an herb near the skin
Chinese massage, called tuina
Gua sha is an ancient therapy dating back to the bronze age. It involves scraping the skin with a bian stone to release the muscles and tissues promoting circulation, flushing the fascia and promoting the new flow of qi and blood and body fluids. Gua sha is used to reduce inflammation and is often used to treat chronic pain such as arthritis, muscle and joint pain, fibromyalgia and more.
Fire cupping is another therapy used to regulate the body. Setting fire in a cup creates a vacuum when the cup is placed on the body creating a suction to skin and tissues. Cupping helps release tension and tightness in the muscles and fascia. Cupping is used to draw out and flush toxins stimulating the immune system. It warms and invigorates blood flow which can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Moxibustion, or moxa for short, entails burning the herb mugwort for its medicinal properties. The heat generated can help to increase the flow of energy throughout the body. Its purpose is to warm the body and its channels to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi and maintain good health by increasing the body's circulation treating back pain, arthritis, headaches, migraines, muscle stiffness, digestive problems, fatigue, menstrual cramps, infertility and more.
What should I expect on my first visit?
The TCM practitioner will ask you questions about your medical history and do a physical exam to look for signs of imbalance. The TCM practitioner will examine your skin, tongue, and hair, as well as other parts of your body, from the brightness of your eyes to the color of your nails, and check 6 pulses on each of your wrists. The practitioner will also listen to your voice to assess your shen (spirit), and will work to determine if one or more of your organ networks are affected. The practitioner then tries to correct imbalances in your body by providing a combination of the therapies discussed above. How long is each session?
The first visit is 75 minutes ($150) and each subsequent visit is 60 minutes ($115).