Traditional Chinese Medical
Care: What to Know
The best medical care begins with a knowledgeable and informed consumer. We know that human biology, environment, lifestyle and the medical care we receive contributes to our ill or good health. To be healthy and well, we need to determine what we are doing to ourselves and how that relates to what we want for ourselves. Joseph A. Califano, former U.S. secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, points out that “you the individual can do more for your own health and well-being than any doctor, any drug, any exotic medical device.”
In this day and age when we are often able to choose the type of medical care we receive, most people in the United States elect to visit a licensed medical doctor trained to practice allopathic or conventional medicine. However, there are many other systems of medical care which are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Traditional Chinese medicine is one such example.
Medical systems vary in their approach
to illness and health. Allopathic medicine works at the molecular
level dealing with organic diseases, specific symptoms, acute and emergency
conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the whole person,
the body, mind and environmental influences. It treats chronic, functional
disorders with a goal to alleviate symptoms by addressing the root cause
of a problem.
While allopathic medicine might heroically rescue us, Chinese medicine may protect and preserve our health on an everyday basis. The integration of the two systems may result in a positive synergistic outcome or effect of which each system is individually incapable. At Jing River Acupuncture, we encourage you to integrate the wisdom of ancient healing traditions with the critical perspective and technology of modern science.
What is Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of healing arts designed to address the mind, body and spirit. Its philosophy embodies the idea that physical and mental harmony are inseparable. It addresses the uniqueness of each individual in his or her environment and seeks to understand the whole person, not simply a part of the body.
TCM views people as microcosms of the macrocosm, the universe. For thousands of years the Chinese studied the cycles of nature and conformed to its patterns in order to survive. TCM evolved into a medical care system designed to improve ones capacity to balance, sustain and renew internal resources.
The most familiar therapies of TCM are acupuncture and herbs. Meditation, dietetics, movement arts (such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong), tui na (a form of Chinese massage therapy), feng shui (the Chinese art of practical ecology) and spiritual work complete the TCM system. All are designed to foster health and maintain homeostasis, a dynamic balance of our body’s vital functions.
Traditional Chinese medical theory is based on the premise that qi (pronounced chee), a vital energy or life-force, permeates all forms of life. Extracted from the food we eat and the air we breathe, qi circulates throughout the body along pathways called channels or meridians. The quality, quantity and balance of qi circulating through the body determines state of health and span of life.
If qi is abundant and flows smoothly one experiences health and well being. If qi is deficient or its circulation disrupted, discomfort or disease results.
Acupuncture and Herbs
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are used to regulate qi and balance the dynamic forces of yin (water) and yang (fire) in the body.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, solid, sterile stainless steel needles into acupuncture points on the meridians. Each point has a general effect on the body’s qi through the meridian complex as well as a specific therapeutic effect on the related organ and the body areas covered by the meridian. Stimulation of the points is achieved by needle insertion techniques, moxibustion (a form of heat therapy), acupressure, electricity, massage and with magnets.
Chinese Herbs are used both internally and externally to adjust and harmonize the body’s energy. Herbs are classified into preventive, curative and tonic categories according to their functional effects and are usually combined into formulas that enhance their individual properties and actions. The pharmacological traits of herbs are matched with disease pathology to counteract the cause of disease and relieve associated symptoms. Herbs are administered as decoctions, brewed from raw herbs, or as patent formulas prepared as powders, pills, tablets and syrups.
How is Traditional Chinese
Based on Traditional Chinese medical theory, oriental medicine diagnoses and treats disorders of qi, body fluids and organ networks. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes a variety of conditions for which acupuncture is appropriate including:
Acupuncture treatments take approximately one hour, and may incorporate herbal remedies, dietary and exercise recommendations and tui na, a form of Chinese massage therapy. It is recommended that you eat lightly prior to your treatment and wear loose comfortable clothing.
The nature and history of a condition will
determine the frequency of treatment. Acupuncture may be scheduled
as often as three times per week or on a seasonal basis, once every three
to four months. Responses vary and as symptoms improve, fewer visits
"You the individual can do more for your
own health and well-being than any doctor, any hospital, any drug, any
exotic medical device."
-- J. A. Califano
former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
J. Ellen Thompson received her Masters degree in Acupuncture from the New England School of Acupuncture where she studied Traditional Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine.
She is certified by the National Commission for Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and is licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Medicine. Additionally, she is certified as an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA).
J. Ellen has a Masters degree in Health
Promotion Wellness Management and has worked in public health for more
than twenty years providing health education services in schools, hospitals,
communities and the workplace. In her role as teacher, counselor,
researcher or program planner she has focused on health promotion, disease
prevention and the behavior change process. As your acupuncturist,
it is her honor and privilege to work with you.