About Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or sometimes called Chinese medicine (CM), is a traditional medical system. It has a holistic approach to diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases by identifying patterns and then applying the individual or combined therapies of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tuina - a therapeutic massage; and other techniques. Its unique characteristics which distinguish it from 'orthodox' medicine are rooted in the "concept of holism - zheng ti guan nian" and "treatment according to syndrome differentiation - bian zheng lun zhi". The fundamental theories of TCM include those of Qi, Yin Yang, the five elements, zang-fu, the four diagnostic methods and syndrome differentiation systems.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the world's oldest medical systems still widely practiced today. It is a unique and independent medical system which originated from China and developed down through the centuries imbued with the spirit of Chinese civilization and culture. For thousands of years, TCM has played a major role in maintaining the health of Chinese people.

Chinese Medicine was established through centuries of clinical practice and following countless failures, taking a very long time from the beginning of the practice of Chinese Medicine to the establishment of a complete medical system. Thus although the recorded evidence for TCM reveals its origins to be two thousand years ago, its social history, traditions and roots predates this, making it a fundamental part of Chinese civilization.
Chinese Medicine directly or indirectly influenced the development of many herbal medicines around the world, including but not limited to the herbal medicines in Japan, Korea, Tibet, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, etc. Through the Silk Road and other cultural exchanges, Chinese Medicine had been exported to Europe and other continents hundreds and thousands of years ago, being practiced in more than 100 countries around the world, and influencing the development of many other herbal medicines in regions outside Asia. The influence of Chinese Medicine on other alternative medicines (including homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, etc.) can potentially be much more profound and significant than most people realize.

Therefore, Chinese Medicine is in a leading position in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), and serves the largest CAM patient population in the world. Today, the term "Chinese Medicine" refers not only to the Chinese Medicine practiced inside China, as the word "Chinese" has lost its original regional or ethnic meaning, and has become an abstract term representing a system of medicine.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the acu-points which lie on lines or channels, through the insertion of thin, fine needles at various points on the body. During the centuries of clinical practice, the functions and clinical effectiveness of each acu-point or combinations of such points in treating different diseases have been noted. In recent years these actions have been systematically studied and verified by modern scientific researches. Currently, there are different forms of acupuncturists in the West; our members only practice the traditional Chinese acupuncture which is based on the full TCM meridian and collateral and the syndrome differentiation theories.

Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditionally, Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) involves the use of natural plants, minerals and even some small amount animals. However, TCM practitioners are not allowed to use minerals and animal stuff. All ATCM members are only using herbs in their clinical practice. Each herb has its own specific characteristics and particular medical use to treat various diseases, rectifying the over-activity or under-activity of Yin and Yang, and helping restore the body to its normal physiological functions. Chinese herbal therapy must be given by qualified TCM practitioners. Normally, the practitioner must
conduct a diagnostic consultation, such as asking you questions that relate to your health problems, taking your pulse and observing your tongue, before making a prescription. A prescription can be defined as a preparation which, on the basis of syndrome differentiation and accordingly established therapeutic methods, organically combines various herbs in accordance with Chinese medicine principles.

Tuina literally translates as push and grasp and is a Chinese therapeutic massage closely related to acupuncture in its use of the meridian system. It is considered to be effective for treating a similar range of health problems, especially musculoskeletal conditions and some internal diseases such as abdominal and stomach problems related to digestions. Infant Tuina is especially useful for treatment of certain infant health problems. Tuina is regarded alongside herbal medicine and acupuncture as another one of the fundamental arts of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Tuina is primarily focused on the meridians and points where Qi gathers and can be easily manipulated. It is thought that the Tuina massage affects not only the physical body but also the Qi body (the network of meridians and points) and the mental body (emotions, thoughts and spiritual faculties). Since both physical and mental health are dependants on a smooth and abundant flow of Qi, massage can effectively affect all the three aspects.

Tuina massage is also based on the same theoretical frame and diagnosis principles as that of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Tuina massage also needs to follow a proper diagnosis by using the four examinations methods and syndrome differentiation. Based on the diagnosis, specific techniques and manipulations are combined to treat the specific symptoms and the underlying pathological patterns.

What conditions can Chinese acupuncture/herbal medicine help?
In respect of the diagnosis and treatment of illness, the knowledge and experience of the TCM practitioner is of vital importance. A thorough analysis of the patient's experiences and symptoms, the causes, nature and location of the illness as well as the patient's physical and emotional condition must all be taken into account for successful treatment.

In general, acupuncture is more responsive to various pain conditions, such as lower back pain, while it is also widely used for different internal health conditions to help people to become more positive and revitalised. Chinese herbal medicine is more widely used for internal conditions, such as certain kinds of infectious diseases.. Tuina, it is more effective to relieve pain, especially in muscular problems.

If you want to learn more about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and wish to discuss whether Chinese medicine would be appropriate for your particular problems and health conditions, please speak to your nearest TCM practitioner which you can find from our database: Find a practitioner

ATCM 2014