Traditional Chinese Medicine Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history. Acupuncture and herbal Medicine have been honed over thousands of years of practice. The first surviving written record of Chinese Medicine dates back to the second century BC. The book the Huang Di Nei Jing, translated as the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”, focused on maintaining balance internally between the organ systems, and externally with the natural environment. The Nan Jing, translated as the Classic of Difficulties, was written later in the second century AD. These two books form the foundation of Traditional Chinese medicine, also known as TCM.
Moxibustion Moxa is made from the herb mugwort. It has been used for centuries to nourish the qi and move blood. It looks like tan cotton and comes in many grades. Moxa is generally burned on an acupuncture point or an area such as the abdomen. There are several methods for using moxa. Moxa can be rolled into a ball, placed on the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. It can also be rolled into small threads of moxa and burned on a point. A moxa box can be used over a large area such as the low back or abdominal area. A special treat for anyone sufferring from deficiency cold in the lower abdomen is to burn the moxa on top of ginger slices that have been placed over the navel. The ginger is also warming and nourishing. Moxa is a very effective treatment for both excess and deficient cold syndromes.
Lifestyle and Dietary Counseling Lifestyle and dietary counseling put you in the driver's seat in regards to your health. Many chronic conditions can be helped with the addition of specific foods or exercises for your condition. Chinese medical food therapy is used to rebalance the body. For example, if a nursing mother is very tired and exhibiting symptoms of qi and yang deficiency, lamb would be an excellent addition to her diet. If a menopausal woman is suffering from hot flashes, dryness and irritability, pears would help to replenish the moisture and cool her temperature.
Lifestyle counseling, such as the addition of meditation or stretching to one's daily activities, can be of immense help. Sciatica is a very common problem. Most people believe bulging discs cause sciatica. This is only one possible cause. Often, sciatica is caused by tight piriformis muscles. These muscles lie deep within the buttocks and can press on the nerve causing the symptoms of sciatica. Acupuncture combined with simple stretches can relieve the pain and address the underlying cause. The goal is to bring the body back to balance and treat imbalances before they manifest. In ancient China, doctors were paid to keep people healthy. They were not paid if the patient became sick. That truly is preventative medicine.
Herbal Medicine Both herbs and acupuncture can be employed to decrease pain and inflammation, speed healing, increase blood flow and increase range of motion. Herbal remedies are especially helpful in recovering after surgery, treating chronic and long-term conditions and increasing stamina and vitality.
In China, and increasingly in cities across America, patients are turning to alternative medicine when they receive a diagnosis of cancer. Chinese medical patients undergoing chemotherapy often elect to take powerful anti-cancer herbs before chemotherapy and tonifying herbs after to regain their strength after treatment. All Chinese medical treatments are first cleared with the oncologist.
Traditional Chinese Medicine in America While the roots of Chinese Medicine span thousands of years, the history of acupuncture in America is a little more recent. It began back in the early 1970s, when China first opened its doors to the West. President Nixon traveled to China to herald this event and make contact with the Communist Government. At that time, a new form of Chinese Medicine was being practiced. Mao’s China actually created what is now termed traditional Chinese medicine, to meet the health care needs of the masses. TCM is a mixture of Classical Chinese Medicine and practical, modern research. When President Nixon traveled to China, an American journalist named James Reston (from the New York Times) went to cover this historic event. While he was in China, his appendix ruptured. His doctors combined Western surgical techniques with post surgery acupuncture and herbs. He was amazed at the speed of his recovery. Upon his return to the states, he wrote about his miraculous healing in an article for the New York Times. Thus a new medicine was brought to the states. In 1996 the Food and Drug Administration finally removed the experimental tag and approved acupuncture needles for routine use. Then, in 1997, a presentation at a Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture revealed scientific evidence pointing to the efficacy of acupuncture. Since then Complementary Medicine has been gaining acceptance, both in the public view as well as scientifically. The National Institutes of Health now has a whole department devoted to this subject. A famous study by Eisenburg revealed that between 1990 and 1997, money spent on Complementary Medicine by the American public more than doubled from $13 billion to $27 billion. And within holistic medicine, acupuncture has emerged as the most widely accepted form of complementary medicine recommended by physicians.
Yin and Yang Yin/Yang Theory One of the most basic foundational concepts of Chinese Medicine is Yin/Yang Theory. It grew out of the play of light along the mountainside. The dark side of the mountain was called Yin while the light side was referred to as Yang. In time, Yin came to mean those things that are dark, cool, wet, still, and female. Yin was the very essence in nature that embodied those attributes. Yin is the black within the Yin/Yang symbol. Yang came to encompass the bright, warm, dry, active and male and is symbolized by the white spaces in the Yin/Yang symbol. When there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang, people can become sick. The complete separation of Yin and Yang occurs at death. If a patient has Yin or Yang deficiency, they can exhibit quite different symptoms.
Qi and Blood Qi is the elusive, energetic substance that courses throughout our bodies. Some who can see it say it is a viscous, golden, milky substance. Qi is the energy that drives the Blood. It is the smooth flow of qi that denotes good health. If there is a blockage, known in Chinese Medicine as Stagnation, there can be all sorts of problems. If the Liver, who controls the smooth flow of Qi, gets backed up, all sorts of symptoms can ensue. Liver Qi Stagnation can cause: anger, irritability, sore ribs along the sides of the body, irregular menstruation, and headache along the sides of the head. The pulse may feel like a thin wire or guitar string striking your finger. The tongue may appear purplish. Blood is created from the Gu Qi of the food we eat and the water we drink, the energy from the air we breathe and our Kidney Jing, a congenital storehouse of Qi. When a woman is nursing a baby, it is said that her Blood transforms into milk. This is one reason we must watch to ensure the new mother is not Blood deficient. The classics say the Blood is the Mother of Qi and Qi is the Commander of Blood. They need each other to function and are mutually transformative. Blood deficiency can show up with pale skin/nails/tongue, dizziness, dry skin, bowel movements that look like rabbit pellets, scanty menses and fatigue.