Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine

Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine

You might have heard of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but you may not be sure of what it involves and if it is right for you. Although TCM may not be right for every condition, it can be a good option for people in many circumstances. The first step is learning more about what TCM is and how it is used.

The Basics; What is Involved in Traditional Chinese Medicine?

The practice of Chinese medicine has been in existence for thousands of years, and originated in ancient China. It is one of the oldest healing systems on the planet. Although many facets of TCM have evolved over the years, the primary philosophies remain the same.

TCM involves a system of therapies that encompasses a variety of methods to treat illness and disease. Although the illness being treated may vary, the goal of treatment is to restore balance in the body. By restoring balance, it allows the body and mind to heal itself.

One of the unique aspects of TCM is that it takes a more holistic approach to treatment than conventional western medicine. Chinese medicine is intended to create wholeness within a person. Western medicine often treats specific symptoms or conditions, but may not focus on the entire body.

Practices used in TCM may vary and can include Chinese therapeutic massage (Tuina), acupuncture and Tai Chi. Herbal remedies may also be used to treat various conditions. Herbal medicine may include combinations of formulas derived from flowers, seeds, leaves and roots. The herbs are given in capsules, extracts, liquids, powders and teas.

Nutrition (TCM food therapy) and exercise are also used in TCM. Although some practices, such as massage and acupuncture, are mainstream and well known a few other therapies may not be. For instance, the practice of moxibustion may be unfamiliar to most people. It involves burning an herb near the skin to treat various conditions.

Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM can be beneficial for several reasons. One of the most obvious benefits is it can help you feel healthier and treat your ailments. But there are also additional benefits. For instance, TCM does not just focus on the physical body. Instead, it pays attention to the mind-body connection associated with disease and healing. For example, various practices of Chinese medicine can help you manage emotions that may affect physical health.

Another benefit is that TCM takes a natural approach to treating many conditions. It focuses on improving well-being through living a healthy lifestyle, such as with exercise, relaxation and eating nutritious foods. The result may not only improve a specific medical condition or disease, but it can mean an overall healthier life and further disease prevention.

TCM also teaches you how to understand what your body is telling you. It is common not to recognize or to ignore the symptoms and signs of illness until something more severe/complicated develops. But TCM also incorporates the importance of being in tune with your body.

It is also helpful to understand that some aspects of TCM can be used in conjunction with conventional Western medicine. For example, acupuncture and tai chi can be used along with common modalities such as chiropractic and massage therapy.

There are a wide variety of conditions that TCM may treat. These include diseases and illness such as:

  • Asthma
  • Low back pain
  • Headache
  • Arthritis
  • Bronchitis
  • Gastritis
  • GERD
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fertility problems
  • Symptoms of menopause
  • Ulcers

Safety and Considerations

Whether you are seeking treatment from a conventional doctor or a TCM practitioner, it is important to keep several safety tips and suggestions in mind including:

Don’t delay lifesaving emergency treatment.

TCM may not be appropriate in every situation. For instance, if you are having symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, emergency medical care is needed. Although TCM had been used for a wide variety of emergency care for many decades, it may not be the best option to treat emergencies or life-threatening conditions in this day and age.

Not everything that is considered “natural” is safe.

Although many aspects and practices associated with TCM are safe, there is not a lot of research yet on certain herbal remedies. Herbal remedies do not go through the same review or regulation process as pharmaceuticals. Don’t assume that something is safe just because it is made from a root or a plant.

Find a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner.

Just as you would with any doctor or dentist, it is essential to make sure a TCM practitioner is well qualified. In the United States, you can visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine website to locate a certified practitioner in your area. In Canadian provinces such as Ontario, visit the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario.

Make sure your healthcare providers are on the same page.

Always talk with your doctor about any herbal medicines that you are taking, and also be sure to talk with your TCM practitioner if you plan to start taking a new medication. In some cases, herbal remedies and supplements can interact with medication and cause unwanted side effects.

Acupuncture – An Effective Treatment for Arthritis

Normal and Osteoarthritis Hip Images

There are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions affecting over 50 million people. While the pain and discomfort from arthritis can severely impact the quality of life for arthritis sufferers, acupuncture is an effective method of treating certain types of arthritis and its symptoms.

Related: Acupuncture Treatment for Hip Pain

Common Types Of Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in joints is worn away by bones rubbing together. It results in pain which may become chronic, swelling, redness and stiffness in the joints which eventually lose strength. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include family history, obesity, age and previous injuries.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the body’s immune system attacking joints causing them to become inflamed and eroded. This can lead to damage to other body parts, such as the eyes and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by genetic factors and environmental conditions such as smoking.
  • Infectious arthritis occurs when joint inflammation is caused by microorganisms (bacteria, viruses or fungi). These enter the body as a result of food poisoning, a sexually transmitted disease or a blood-to-blood infection such as hepatitis-C. Infectious arthritis is often cleared up with the use of antibiotics, but it can become chronic.
  • Metabolic arthritis, also called gout, is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. The acid crystallizes in the joints causing sudden, excruciating and debilitating pain, often in the big toe, but also in the heel, ankle, hand, wrist and elbow.


Acupuncture Treatment for Arthritis

Acupuncture views the flow of energy (or Qi) in the body as vital to health and wellness. Qi flows along meridians in the body and it is when that flow is interrupted or blocked that illness such as arthritis develops. Acupuncture targets the specific symptoms that arise in each individual’s case of the disease.

The acupuncturist will interview and examine you to determine your diet, lifestyle, the onset of the condition, your signs and symptoms. Upon diagnosis, an individualized treatment plan will be developed. This may incorporate treatment with different acupuncture points, herbs, and recommendations as to diet and lifestyle changes.

The acupuncture points to be treated may be at the site of discomfort, or elsewhere on the body along a related meridian. The placement of the needles, the length of time for which they remain in place and whether or not heat or electrical stimulation is applied, are all are carefully considered in order to remove blockages to the free flow of Qi.

Milder symptoms may be alleviated with the first few treatments, but chronic symptoms often require multiple, on-going treatments for a more noticeable relief. Treatments are typically administered once or twice a week.

You may no longer need to constantly suffer from the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. Acupuncture could provide relieve and restore wellness to persons affected by this disease.

Improve Your Digestive Health with Acupuncture

Digestive system of humans, Male and Female Anatomy
Acupuncture can be an excellent choice to naturally treat digestive disorders and maintaining digestive health.

The digestive system runs downwards through almost the entire body.  Its tissues, glands and organs work closely together and with other organs throughout the body.

Problems in any part of the system can have negative consequences for the individual’s overall health.

What Digestive Health Means

Digestive health refers to efficiently processing nutrients and eliminating undigested material from the body. To do this, the digestive organs, which include the stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and intestines, must be functioning properly. Digestive health requires a nutritious and balanced diet, physical activity and maintenance of appropriate weight.

Factors that undermine digestive health include poor nutrition and eating habits, lack of activity, smoking and stress. Symptoms of digestive ill-health include indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain. Approximately 40% of people are experiencing at least one of these at any given time. Pharmacy remedies provide a short term relief, but quite often the symptoms return, and in some cases they become chronic. Digestive health problems are often warning signs of a serious illness elsewhere in the body.

Effects of Acupuncture on Digestive Health

Related: Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The holistic approach of Chinese medicine is perhaps one of the reasons for acupuncture being so effective in regaining and maintaining digestive health. In addition to the needle treatment, the acupuncturist seeks to understand your lifestyle habits that impact your physical health.

Chinese medicine views the body as having 12 primary meridians and 8 extraordinary meridians. Energy or Qi must flow freely along these meridians to maintain a healthy balance within in the body’s systems. Acupuncture is the practice of promoting the flow of Qi by stimulating specific sets of 362 acupuncture points along the meridians.

To treat digestive problems, the acupuncturist may select points on the torso, and points that may seem unrelated to your digestive system (on the arms and legs, for instance). This is done in an effort to remove blockages along the meridians allowing health-giving Qi to flow. This promotes the smooth downward movement that is necessary in the digestive tract.

Chronic heartburn and other problems affecting the upper parts of the digestive system respond very well to acupuncture. Acupuncture enhances digestion and helps control secretion of stomach acids, thereby causing less acid to back-up into the esophagus. Furthermore, acupuncture lessens the perception of pain in the esophagus and GI tract.

Acupuncture helps the body to absorb nutrients and then to assimilate them. It also enhances the elimination of waste products.  In so doing, acupuncture plays a role in stemming the occurrence of digestion related issues such as anemia, loose bowels, constipation, bloating and excess weight. There might be a reduction in the instances of gallstones, kidney stones, autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation.

Acupuncture can be an excellent choice to naturally treat digestive disorders and maintaining digestive health.


Benefits Of Acupuncture During Pregnancy

Benefits Of Acupuncture During Pregnancy
Acupuncture helps to relieve a host of symptoms, assists with labor, and even aids in correcting a breech presentation

Many scientific studies have been conducted to verify the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy.

They have found that acupuncture can be a safe and worthwhile complementary treatment during pregnancy.

For pregnancy, acupuncture helps to relieve a host of symptoms, assists with labor, and even aids in correcting a breech presentation.

Acupuncture And Pregnancy

  • Fertility – Acupuncture is helpful even before you are pregnant. Whether alone or with assisted reproductive technologies, it can improve the chances of you becoming pregnant.
  • Gastrointestinal upsets – Most women prefer acupuncture over medication, with vomiting and nausea related to morning sickness showing improvements from the first session. It also alleviates heartburn and constipation.
  • Pain and swelling – Acupuncture can help significantly to ease pain in the lower back, pelvic pain, swelling in the legs and carpal tunnel syndrome, all common during the second and third trimesters.
  • Breech position – Acupuncture (in conjunction with moxibustion) relaxes the muscles in the uterus and abdomen, as it controls the movements of the uterus. This creates the ideal conditions for the baby to turn.
  • Sleep problems and fatigue – Getting sufficient sleep is one of the biggest challenges in pregnancy. Acupuncture can help pregnant women get more restful and rejuvenating sleep. It also increases fuel production and energy levels, helping women cope with the physical toll of pregnancy.
  • Stress, mild to moderate depression, and headaches – Here, acupuncture provides a safe alternative to medication. It significantly reduces stress and anxiety during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Depression, which affects nearly a quarter of pregnant women, can also be alleviated with acupuncture, as can the occurrence of pregnancy-induced headaches.
  • Labor induction and shortening the length of labor – Acupuncture can be used to prepare the mother’s body for labor and delivery. It is also effective at reducing the length of labor and lessening the need for medical interventions.
  • Postnatal – Acupuncture assists physical and mental recovery after delivery, preventing fatigue and mood swings. It can improve blood circulation, leading to improved breast milk supply. Other postpartum issues commonly treated with acupuncture are urination difficulty, abdominal cramps, bleeding, hair loss, fever, night sweats and mastitis.

While acupuncture is not a substitute for Western prenatal medical care, it offers many benefits as a complementary treatment.

Related link: Research Studies of Acupuncture on Pregnancy Related Issues

Tongue Sublingual Vein Research

Tongue diagnosis: relationship between sublingual tongue morphology in three tongue protrusion angles and menstrual clinical symptoms.



The morphological and color characteristics of the tongue sublingual veins (SLVs) can manifest differently within the subjects, depending on the way their tongue is curled upward. This study was conducted in order to investigate the clinical relevancy of tongue SLV diagnosis in relation to menstrual clinical symptoms (pain, clots, heavy, and scanty), using three different inspection procedures (IP1, IP2, and IP3).


Three-hundred and seventy-seven female patients were asked to stick out their tongues in three specific ways which were intended to create different tongue protrusion angles. The SLV parameters for thickness (TK), length (LE), color (CL), shape (SP), and nodules (ND) were then evaluated.


According to the results of the Wald χ2 test, IP1 provides the best model for pain (R2=0.155), IP3 for clots (R2=0.437), IP2 for heavy (R2=0.268), and scanty (R2=0.192). Abnormal SLV diagnostic parameters were most strongly associated with the clinical symptom of clots (R2=0.492).


While the study showed the relations between tongue SLV features and menstrual clinical symptoms, as well it showed that IP2 was the best overall predictor for the symptomatic indexes used in this study, and using one particular SLV inspection procedure may not be sufficient. The application of a particular inspection method alone may cause under- or over-estimation of SLV abnormalities.

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Is Acupuncture The Secret To Solving Your Acne Problems?

Acupuncture for acne
Is Acupuncture The Secret To Solving Your Acne Problems?

If your dresser is full of face moisturizers, scrubs, spot correctors, and failed cleansers, and you’re still seeing unsightly red pimples every time you look in a mirror, you may need to change your methods. Living with acne can be frustrating – aside from the emotional and physical effects, it can also be very painful.

If modern treatment methods have done nothing to help you overcome your acne, you may want to try acupuncture. Acupuncture can assist to relive many different ailments, from chronic pain to psychiatric issues, and new research has shown that it can also help with acne.

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Views Acne

In Western medicine, acne vulgaris is explained as red pimples resulting from clogged, infected, or inflamed hair follicles. Oils, makeup, dead skin cells all combined on the skin can clog hair follicles on the face.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnoses pimples and blackheads on the skin as the result of excess bacteria, heat, and dampness due to poor eating habits, emotional imbalances, and toxins in the surroundings. TCM teaches that they are all in an energy channel in the body which connects all organs including the skin.

Organs such as lungs, stomach and spleen are involved in the prevention of acne due to their functions and the energy channels linking them to the skin. First, the lungs control the skin, including the hair follicles and the opening and closing of pores that release excess heat from the body. This is why most lung diseases result in skin eruptions. Research has revealed that substances that are released in the body, from skin conditions like eczema, can circulate through the body and trigger allergic reactions.

The stomach, which is naturally warm to breakdown food for digestion, can easily store too much heat. When too much heat has gathered in the stomach, pimples can then form on areas that share the same energy channel, such as the face and chest. Any dampness can then result in oily skin which often leads to acne. Dampness in the spleen is also believed to affect the skin since it works with the stomach in digestion by transforming food that has been digested to refined essences. If the spleen is not working well, dampness can accumulate more easily in the stomach. Spicy and greasy foods can usually affect the spleen’s role in digestion. TCM believes that these factors; as well as stress, eating habits, and hereditary genes, contribute to acne.

How Acupuncture Treats Acne

An acupuncturist may decide what treatment methods to use based on the individual’s diagnosis. Generally an interview is done with the client in addition to the inspection of the tongue and skin. The patient’s pulse may also be taken. Once the cause for the acne is established, the acupuncturist can begin treatment. Fine hair-thin, pre sterilized disposable needles are inserted to acupuncture points that correspond to the skin. The acupressure points used for treating acne are usually related to energy points that connect the stomach, lung, and spleen. Some acupuncturists will also recommend herbs to patients with acne.

Natural Treatment for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection

Natural Treatment for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection

Acupuncture May Be the Answer!

Do you feel burning sensations or urgency during urination? Does your urine have pungent foul smell? Or any signs of abdominal cramps and severe pain during intercourse? If answers to all of these questions are positive then maybe you have a urinary tract infection and its time to have proper check up by a skilled medical practitioner. Moreover, if you have faced these symptoms twice over a span of last 6 – 12 months then its recurrent urinary tract infection and you must take treatment as it’s a very alarming health condition.

Medical science has been advancing at a very fast pace but still there is no satisfactory treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections. Most antibiotics have various side-effects and are susceptible to develop resistant bacteria in the body. Perhaps, this is the key reason that most of the patients prefer natural treatment, since it involves fewer risks and more benefits. So if you are diagnosed with recurrent urinary tract infection, then it will be wise to go for a natural treatment.

There are so many natural treatments for recurrent urinary tract infections with their specific set of benefits and risks. However, the most popular and effective natural treatments are Herbal extracts, Homeopathic medicines, Probiotic supplements and Acupuncture. Let’s know about their brief details:

  • Herbal Extracts like green tea, Uva-ursi, milk thistle, cranberry juice and corn silk are known to have amazing therapeutic effects for recurrent urinary tract infections. However, its quite tricky to have right ratio of some herbs as excessive or any wrong dosage can result in potential risks to your overall health. So, its advisable that you consult any natural medicine practitioner before taking any herbal treatment.
  • In homeopathic medicine, there are so many different treatments available depending upon the different kinds of symptoms faced by patients. A professional homeopathic practitioner will always take into account your specific symptoms, overall physical and emotional health, then he will prescribe you a oroper Cantharis, Aconitum, Pulsatilla and Nux Vomica are among most common homeopathic remedies for recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • Probiotic supplements are another effective natural treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections. Probiotics are natural microorganisms which are beneficial for health and prevent urinary tract infections. However, currently there are not enough studies that could support effectiveness of this natural treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • So far, acupuncture is considered as the most effective natural treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections. Recent studies have supported its effectiveness and also gave evidence that acupuncture has the capability to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in the adult women. If your acupuncturist is skilled then the risks are very low and the benefits are very rewarding. Some acupuncturists also prescribe traditional Chinese medicine formulas such as Choreito (Zhu Ling Tang), Gorinsan (Wu Lin San) or other herbal medicine to treat urinary symptoms in conjunction with acupuncture.

Your choices decide the fate of your life, so choose the best natural treatment and save yourself a lot of trouble. All above mentioned natural treatments can be effective but acupuncture may stand out in its ability to treat as well as prevent recurrent urinary tract infections. Even it has good history of treating cystitis in women suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections. This is safe and probably the best alternative for antibiotics, so stop wasting your time and energies in taking treatments that won’t work. Start doing the obvious, be safe and healthy again!

Related Article: Acupuncture for Overactive Bladder

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Ear acupuncture Point for appetite reduction
Acupuncture needles inserted to auricular points, Shen Men, Stomach, and Hunger points

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the biggest challenges faced by Canadians today. In their battle to lose weight, Canadians spend at least 6 billion dollars yearly on diet plans, surgeries, and pills. A study done by Memorial University in St John’s revealed that the obesity rate has tripled since 1985. Luckily acupuncture has once more shown helpful to be a safe and affordable treatment option for overcoming health issues.

During acupuncture, thin sterile needles are inserted at different energy pathways, or acupressure points, on the body to stimulate a natural flow of qi (vital energy), leaving the body ‘feeling positive’. It stimulates the nervous system, which in turn encourages the release of neurochemicals that create a sense of happiness and counteract anxiety, feelings of stress, and depression.

Related: Why Crash Diets Crash

How Acupuncture Aids Weight Loss
Based on ancient Chinese medicine, a person becomes overweight due to the disruption in the function of the abdominal organ and digestive system. To facilitate weight loss, trained acupuncturists focus on specific acupressure points that are connected to parts of the body that are essential for weight loss. This includes the thyroid gland and spleen which both play an important role in balancing hormones and sugar levels. The kidneys and endocrine system are also focused on ensuring that an appropriate balance of essential minerals and liquids is maintained. Females, may have their ovary glands and adrenal glands points included due to weight gain from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or menopause.

There is no universal response to treatment. Some people will see improvement after a few visits while others will need a little more persistence. The key acupressure points that are utilized for weight loss are:

Ear Point
Ear acupuncture increases serotonin levels in the body and stimulates the auricular branch of the vagal nerve. The vagal nerve relays nerve fibers to the intestinal tract, heart, trachea, lung and esophagus. It also delivers sensory information to nervous tissues from the tongue, ear, pharynx, and larynx. Ear acupuncture works to enhance tone in the involuntary muscles in the stomach which can suppress one’s appetite to facilitate weight loss. The needles are generally left in place for a short time and the amount of sessions required may vary with each person. For more information on ear acupuncture, visit: Ear Acupuncture is an Effective Way to Naturally Suppress the Appetite.

Abdomen Point
This acupressure point is located about 3 centimeters underneath the navel. This point is very important for weight loss. When stimulated it eases constipation and improves the function of the digestive system and enhances its endurance. Massaging the area daily for 2 to 3 minutes is very beneficial.

Closing Note
It’s important to seek the services of a trained acupuncturist if you’re in need of treatment for weight loss. Decreasing the total amount of calories in your daily meals will also help you to see better results. The important thing to remember is that acupuncture is a support system, therefore you will need to do your part including regular exercise.