Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a form of natural and alternative medicine that has been in existence for thousands of years. It is holistic in nature, meaning that it looks at the patient as a whole. What this means is that rather than solely eliminating signs and symptoms by masking them (i.e. taking a pain killer for a headache to eliminate the pain rather than eliminating the cause of the pain), it looks at the source of the problem and aims to treat that. For example, five patients complaining of headaches may have five entirely different reasons behind the headache (what TCM calls different syndrome patterns). That means that according to TCM, each of these five patients’ headaches would be treated following a different protocol. There are many modalities falling under the TCM umbrella. Here are the ones used in my practice.
Acupuncture is one of the primary modalities used within TCM. It consists of a series of over 500 points on the body. The majority of these points are located along channels or meridians, which are the pathways where Qi (energy) flows. Each of these points has a particular function or energetic which enables balancing, healing and movement of Qi within the body. Symptoms arise in the body when there is an imbalance of Qi in these meridians.
During a treatment, a number of questions are asked, both about the patient’s primary concerns as well as questions which may seem unrelated to the patient’s primary concern. This is to gain a full perspective of the whole person, as some things that may seem unrelated may in fact be related within the particular syndrome that the patient is presenting with. Diagnostic methods such as taking the pulse and observing the tongue will also be used. These are used to gain a better picture of the state of the internal organs and give insight into different pathologies which may be present.
Treatment involves the insertion of a small, sterile, “hair-like” needle into the skin at certain points on the body. The patient should not feel any pain but may experience some sensation or muscular activity as the Qi gathers at the point. Acupuncture is extremely safe with virtually no side effects and has been shown to help with over 100 health conditions!
Here are a few examples of conditions that acupuncture can help to treat:
- General health: weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, energy and fatigue, blood pressure
- Immune system support: common cold, flu, increased susceptibility to illness
- Respiratory illness: shortness of breath, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis
- Digestive conditions: bloating, gas, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gynecological conditions: infertility, menstrual disorders, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), painful menstruation, miscarriage, menopausal symptoms
- Acute pain: sports-related or other injuries
- Chronic pain: frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, pain of any joint (jaw, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle), fibromyalgia, arthritis, sciatica, disorders of spinal discs, headaches, plantar fasciitis, muscle tension
- Neurological conditions: neuropathy, numbness, tingling, stroke recovery, bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis
- Eyes and ears: dry eyes, itchy eyes, floaters in vision, tinnitus
- Emotional conditions: stress, anxiety, depression
- Addictions: smoking cessation, drugs and alcohol withdrawal, sugar cravings
- Treatment or drug side effects: helps to mitigate side effects related to chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as other pharmaceutical drugs
This is a “suction-cup” method used to break up fascial adhesions, stubborn phlegm in the lungs, and other obstructions such as blood and Qi that can lead to pain. It helps to draw the muscle and fascia away from bone creating a similar effect to massage (in an opposing way). This can provide relief from pain, illness and flu, and stubborn states of cold in the body.
Scraping Therapy (Gua Sha)
This method is used to regenerate blood flow in tight and restricted areas. It breaks up superficial capillaries to jump start the body’s natural healing mechanism. It is used to treat musculoskeletal concerns.
This is an ancient modality involving the burning of the herb mugwort over acupuncture points. By doing this, heat can deeply penetrate the body (this type of heat is similar to that produced in an infrared sauna) to soothe sore muscles and painful joints, encourage proper circulation, strengthen blood and Qi in the body, and maintain general health.
Chinese Bodywork and Massage (Tui Na)
Chinese massage is used to regulate the flow of energy in the body. It is used for painful conditions, digestive issues, immune system dysfunction, neurological conditions, and overall well-being.
Chinese Food Therapy
Diet therapy according to the ancient Chinese method is very complementary to regular acupuncture treatments. It provides guidelines and suggestions to clients on foods to avoid or consume based on their TCM diagnosis. Following these guidelines improves well-being and health, as well as assists the patient to see results faster.