TCM is a rigorous system of Primary Health-care that comprises of acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, massage and exercise therapies such as Qi-Gong. Practitioners utilise assessment of a patient using ancient eastern philosophies and learning, developed over millennia, and aim to restore balance in the body by applying any of the above treatments. It recognises that “wellness” is not just relief of symptoms, but rather requires a total overview of a patient’s diet and exercise habits, as well as their emotional or psychological status. By restoring balance in these areas, the symptom of “unwellness” or disease will be eased by the return of good health.
Acupuncture is a treatment involving the use of small thin needles to restore normal flow of qi, or life-force through the body. Some of the symptoms of disease or illness can be described by the blockage or abnormal flow of qi, and by needling the acupoints this flow can be restored. Patients often describe feeling sleepy or almost out-of-body type experience when having acupuncture due to the calm and strong relaxation that this technique can imbue and this stress-relief is of immeasurable benefit to many medical conditions brought on by the fast pace and poor sleep hygiene of the modern lifestyle.
Chinese Herbal medicine involves supply of any one of over 450 substances, commonly of plant origin. Many of the traditional substances that were derived from endangered species have now been replaced by those with similar actions from more sustainable sources. Like any substance or blend of substances, these are ingested or in some way applied to the body to exert a healing or relieving effect for a patient’s symptoms – although is is important to point out that the Chinese way is to focus on living a good and healthy life, maintaining good inner health and avoiding illness in the first instance, rather than simply medicating a symptom to make it go away, without first fixing the life.
The tongue plays an important aspect of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. The tongue is in a sense the most external organ of the body making it easily observed to understand what is happening internally. The colour, quality, coating and movement of the tongue all directly relate to what is happening internally in the body, with different areas of the tongue being associated with different organs. This makes it useful to aid in identification of ill-health and thus direct the most appropriate course of treatment.
Palpating the pulse is another vital component of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. By palpating the pulse a qualified TCM practitioner can infer the quality of a person’s energy and blood and accordingly the physiological and pathological state of their internal organ systems. The radial pulse is palpated on both wrists in three different positions and at different depths, with each position traditionally being related to a different organ in the body. The quality, speed, strength and depth of the pulse is identified and this is then used in combination with the tongue diagnosis and the patient interview to produce a profile of the patient’s health, and construct the most appropriate treatment plan for them.