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16Aug/09Off

Brief introduction of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment methods

About a week ago I had a post talking about Traditional Chinese Medical Diagnosis. At the end I mentioned a treatment plan being developed after the diagnosis. A treatment plan is designed with different appropriate therapies, usually includes one or a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxabustion, cupping, five star plum blossom, acupressure (also called "Tui Na" in Chinese), bathing and washing methods.

Acupuncture is a therapy that uses needles pinched into specific acupuncture points (or acupoints in short) to affect the flow of vital energy (Qi or Chi). There are a big web of acupuncture points and the collection is called Meridians system, which has 12 principal meridians (or called channels) that correspond to the yin and yang organs and the pericardium. (Yin organs mostly are those without an empty cavity, and include the heart, liver, lungs, spleen, and kidneys. As the opposite, Yang organs usually have an empty cavity such as the gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and bladder. Pericardium is not an independent organ, it refers to the tissues surrounding the heart, or say it is a membrane that protects the heart.) Meridians work as a channel system that carries Qi and blood, but they are not blood vessels and there is no anatomical channel structure. There are 365 acupuncture points in our body,  and each points belongs to a specific meridian channel that connects to particular  organs.

Moxabustion is a form of heat therapy that uses the herb mugwort applied to specific points or areas of the body for healing purpose. Usually it's learned with acupuncture and combined as one expertise. Cupping is a skill that uses suction cups made of bamboo or glasses. There was I time I had a serious flu, the doctor used acupuncture and cupping at the same time, and then I got a lot better just the next day.

Herbal medicine involves the use of botanical, mineral, and zoological substances for the cure if disease. This blog will talk more about herbal medicines in the future, and what diseases they can cure. Of course, these are just like an introduction and let the readers know what's possible with TCM. The complex prescription will need a doctor or practitioner to design, or some patent remedies that have been tested for hundreds of years.

Acupressure, or called Tui Na in some translations (actually that's how it's pronounced in Chinese), is a Chinese therapeutic massage. There are a lot of different acupressure techniques, from pressing acupuncture points to fix the injuries of limps, from head to toe, acupressure can be applied.

"Five star plum blossom", or called dermal needles, uses five needles bound together to stimulate yang energy by tapping areas of the body.

Bathing and Washing, on the other hand, is quite common. There are water cures, cold baths, sauna and steam, and the one worth most noticing is herbal baths or herbal foot baths. Certain skin problems will use herbal baths as well. Other than herbal foot bath, Herbal pillow can also be used for better sleep.

While these are traditional Chinese therapies that are useful and complementary to one another, the most popular ones are acupuncture and herbal medicine. Most licensed acupuncturist will have to learn both, or even more including some acupressure.

Qi Gong, on the other hand, still can't be fully explained by science after all these years. The way it works is under the understanding of Qi, or vital energy control. Although the real Qi Gong master can heal many people, it's still not an official therapy for traditional Chinese doctor to learn.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner, www.shen-nong.com)