Oriental Medicine is the world’s oldest, continually practiced system of professional medicine. Its written history stretches back over 2,500 years and its practice is probably much older than that. It includes six modalities of healing – Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Chinese Massage (Tuina), Tai Chi (meditative exercise), QiGong (meditative breathing) and Chinese Nutrition.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory
Traditional Chinese Medicine is founded on ancient philosophical principles such as the concept of Yin and Yang, the notion of Five Elements, and the concept of Qi. Yin and Yang describe the interdependent relationship of opposing but complementary forces existing in nature and in man. When these forces are in balance health prevails. The five elements – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal – represent distinct “qualities” of Qi as it cycles through nature, the seasons and through our own lives. When the energies of the Five Elements are functioning in harmony and balance within ourselves, we feel healthy, nourished and fully alive. When the elements move out of balance, we may feel a reduced sense of well being, and we may develop symptoms of disease – at a physical, mental or spiritual level.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the premise that when the human body is kept in harmonious balance, health and well-being are naturally maintained. Qi, pronounced “Chee,” is the life force that flows through the human body providing vitality and regulating physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance. Qi is conducted between the surface of the body and the internal organs along pathways called channels or meridians. There are twelve main channels in the body, one for each major organ. When the free flow of Qi along these channels is impeded due to stress, overwork or poor diet, an imbalance may occur resulting in disease. Acupuncture and the other modalities of Oriental medicine act to reinstate the free flow of Qi, balance the energy of the organs, remove excess or replace deficiency thereby restoring balance and health.
How Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine complement each other
Although Traditional Chinese Medicine is preventative in nature it also addresses both acute and chronic illness effectively. Western Medicine generally intervenes after an illness has already manifested to a degree where there is a recognizable pathology. Oriental Medicine, however, can also treat symptoms where there is not yet a recognizable pathology. While Western Medicine is the treatment of choice in emergency or surgical situations, Traditional Chinese Medicine is concerned with preserving health on a day to day basis. In addition, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help lessen the side effects from western drug treatments. Western and Chinese Medicine should be viewed as complementary systems of healthcare.
The Holistic Concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes the unity of mind, body and spirit. Normal physiological activities depend not only on the functional co-ordination of every part of the body but also on the state of Qi, the “life force” or “will to be well” within the person. The Qi of a person is subject to influences from the external environment. In other words what is outside can be manifested within. For example, many people realize that a damp environment makes them feel heavy and causes their joints to ache. In addition, Qi is also affected by our ‘inner climate”. Our emotional state affects the flow of Qi and the health of our internal organs. The Chinese believe that this Qi can be re-balanced, improved and nourished so that the patient is restored to full health and vitality.
During the patient consultation the practitioner takes a detailed case history. Clinical data is gathered by the four examinations (Looking, Listening, Asking and Touching), which include tongue and pulse diagnosis, and is analysed until a pattern of disharmony is recognized All this information is interpreted along with the client’s present and past complaints, prior medical history, work and living habits, physical environment, family health history, current western medication, test results, and emotional life. An appropriate treatment plan is then put in place.
Treatment usually incorporates Acupuncture and Herbal Remedies and may also include Chinese Massage (Tuina), nutritional or lifestyle advice or some Qi Gong breathing exercises. Duration of treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. Some patients may show marked improvement after a few sessions while others may need prolonged care to reverse entrenched patterns that have been established over time. A typical course of treatment would be six sessions followed by a review.
What conditions does Traditional Chinese Medicine treat?
The World Heath Organization recognizes that clinical trials have established successful outcomes from acupuncture treatments for the following conditions:
- Allergies Asthma Anaemia Anxiety Arthritis Asthma
- Back Pain
- Constipation Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Depression Digestive and Bowel Disorders
- Hay Fever Headaches Hypertension
- Insomnia Impotence Infertility
- Low Energy
- ME Migraine Menstrual Disorders Menopause Muscle and Joint Pain
- Nervous Problems
- Pain Palpitations PMS
- Sciatica Sinusitis Smoking Cessation Sports Injury Stress
- Urogenital Disorders