Traditional Chinese Medicine (tcm) Explained in Less Than 1000 Words

| June 16, 2010 | 0 Comments | 293 views

Find out all the basics about acupuncture and TCM and why it’s use is on the rise in Ontario.

Tools of the TCM Practitioner

Acupuncture is undoubtedly the most common tool which TCM practitioners use. It is best explained as the insertion of hair thin needles on specific locations on the body referred to as acupuncture points. Acupuncture has the unique ability to regulate bodily systems which are out of balance (i.e. disease). For example, if your immune system is too low, the correct acupuncture treatment will strengthen it; if your blood pressure is to high, acupuncture can reduce it. Simply put, acupuncture gives the body a “physiological nudge” in the right direction.

Chinese herbal medicine has a long and extensive history which dates back further than acupuncture. The Materia Medica (the Chinese herbal medicine bible, if you will) is filled with information about thousands of roots, plants, flowers, barks, minerals and animal products, each possessing unique medicinal properties. Chinese herbal medicine is considered by most traditionalists to be the most important and useful tool of the TCM practitioner.

Tuina (twee-na) is TCM massage. Tuina is most appropriate for issues like musculo-skeletal pain but can also be used for issues like digestive and menstrual issues with great success.

Cupping or “fire” cupping uses round, glass cups which are placed on the body. The term “fire” is used because a small, controlled flame is quickly inserted into the glass, burning off the oxygen in the cups; this creates a mini vacuum in the cup which, after placed onto the skin (usually the back) gently pulls the skin and muscle tissue into the cup. This is very effective at reducing chronic muscle aches and pains.

Moxibustion is the burning of a Chinese herb called Mugwort on or around acupuncture points. Moxibustion, or moxa, is generally used when the person experiences “cold” pain such as knee pain that is worse in cold weather.

Other TCM modalities include gua sha (mild skin scraping technique), diet therapy and exercise recommendations.

What to Expect During your First Visit

Your first visit with a TCM practitioner should be at least an hour and could go an hour and a half in length. A complete health history is taken during this time noting recent illnesses, medications and issues with your family history.

When you see a TCM practitioner, you will also be asked a number of questions which are important for the TCM practitioner to know and will help them decide which acupuncture points to use and which herbs to prescribe. Finally, a true TCM practitioner will always take your pulse (at the wrist) and inspect your tongue. A lot of time is spent in TCM colleges learning these two important diagnostic tools. TCM believes that there are 28 different types of pulses, each indicating a certain imbalance within the body. The size, shape, coating and surface of the tongue also contains a wealth of information which further helps us narrow down a diagnosis. Take a look at your tongue the next time you get the flu; the changes are drastic!

Follow-up visits can be anywhere from 30min to an hour depending on the condition being treated. Typically, it can take anywhere from 6-10 treatments to see a change in your condition; less if the problem has been around for a short time (weeks) and longer if it has been around for months or years.

Training of a TCM Practitioner in Ontario

This is where things get confusing for the public but thankfully, the province has responded by passing Bill 50 in December 2006 and a regulatory college for Acupuncture and TCM for Ontario is currently being formed. That being said, many people still practise acupuncture with very little training and it is (for now) up to the public to determine if their acupuncturist is qualified enough to provide them with the care they need. Your best bet is to go to someone with specific TCM training (at least four years) from a recognized TCM college to receive the best possible treatment results.

Much More than Pain Management

The scientific community agrees that acupuncture is helpful with pain management and there are many articles on this subject in medical journals all over the world. However, the general public is only recently becoming aware of all the other common conditions which acupuncture is successful at treating. Chronic digestive problems, gynaecological concerns and emotional issues are all very common complaints in the clinic of a TCM practitioner and can be treated very successfully.

Give it a Try!

TCM and acupuncture have been around for thousands of years and is currently being used by over a quarter of the world’s population. In Ontario, it is increasingly evident that this form of healthcare continues to be an important part of many healthy individuals primary medical care. Contact your local TCM Practitioner today and enjoy the safe and natural path to optimal health.

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