Chinese medicine originated in China at least 2,500 years ago and has been practised and honed continually since then. Modern Western medicine is used in conjunction with traditional Chinese medicine, with great effect, in Chinese hospitals. Chinese medicine includes a variety of different types of treatment like acupuncture, massage, and herbalism. Practitioners of traditional oriental medicine can come from specific disciplines across East Asia and ‘Chinese medicine’ is a very broad term. As traditional and alternative therapies have often met with scepticism, it’s important to research and differentiate between different types of treatment practised by Chinese medicine practitioners.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic area of care, meaning that if you consult a Chinese Medicine doctor they will consider you as a whole person and use that knowledge to tailor their treatment of your condition. Practitioners of Chinese medicine consider a condition in the larger context of the body, according to the tenets of Chinese medicine. In fact, practitioners of Chinese medicine advocate a preventative, health-focused approach, and not just the treatment of problems as they arise.
In the Western World it is considered an alternative medicine and not consistently used in mainstream healthcare settings, but some forms of traditional Chinese therapy are growing in popularity and renown. Acupuncture, for example, has a growing evidence base in medical science and has many devoted followers around the world.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats a variety of health conditions and incorporates a huge number of treatment choices, including:
Chinese acupuncture- this is based on the idea that ill health can stem from an altered flow of the body’s natural energy, or ‘Qi’. The insertion of very fine, sterile needles into the areas of the skin or pressure points considered to stimulate or improve this flow. The person receiving acupuncture will sit or lie down, and some areas of the body may need to be exposed, depending on where the needles need to go. The acupuncturist will explain everything fully throughout the procedure and the atmosphere in an acupuncture treatment room is tranquil and relaxed. The needles used are extremely fine and the sensation of them being inserted is usually described as just a slight pressure or tingling, and not painful.
Chinese herbalism - a form of traditional medicine wherein practitioners use their knowledge of the qualities and properties of naturally occurring materials to treat illness, or rather to improve and aid the body’s ability to heal itself. Chinese herbal remedies can come in such forms as teas, tinctures, or tablets, and the Chinese medicine practitioner can explain the ingredients and how they can work best for the individual.
Chinese massage - this is a form of therapy which incorporates some of the same ideas as acupuncture; those regarding Qi, energy flow and pressure points. A masseur who operates within the disciplines of traditional Chinese medicine manipulates these elements through massage to holistically improve the body’s ability to heal or manage through illness.