Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Posted by Hugh Hayward – Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist 

I am writing this article because I figured that there must be a number of people who shared the same confusion I had when first exposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I am aware that it works, but how does it work?

The conventional use of medical lingo is not available in TCM and everything has to be translated for those who can’t just accept the shrugging off of questions by ancient gurus time and time again. “It is as it is, don’t complicate things with an explanation”. One part of my brain can deal with this. The other part cannot.

When I am receiving a treatment and putting my time and funds into that therapy, I like to understand it as best as anyone can without being obsessive, and I expect that our patients probably feel the same way. This is one aspect of holistic medicine which separates us from western medicine. The practitioner is the educator and the patient is also the student.

Thankfully, when you get your head around TCM, it is far simpler than most medical systems and when you start to see life in light of this, the subtle aspects of your own health and others around you become obvious. This is ideal in preventative medicine because it pays to know the signs. Why wait until you are crippled by some illness to receive the treatment? TCM is based on the Tao (or Dao) and the Tao is all encompassing. It is not something you receive when you go to the hospital – it is a way of life. People treat wellbeing as something to cross off their list, but being is an expression of existence. Only a sick person would choose to exist any other way than in wellness.

TCM is one of the oldest healing systems on the planet.

The TCM Theoretical Diagnostic Construct

The best way, I think, to view Chinese Medicine is as a theoretical diagnostic construct. It began with herbal medicine, moxibustion and qi gong (a form of exercise which promotes wellbeing) before acupuncture needles or even acupuncture points were ever used. They started with the knowledge of ‘qi’ and an understanding of channel pathways on the body – that when manipulated with massage and heat would give a therapeutic effect. It is my opinion that TCM as we know it today is the result of a meticulous system of trial and error. The medicine came before the explanation, and the results came before the research and thus an ideology was born to aid diagnosis and treatment. Acupuncture points and meridians then evolved with this set of guidelines as a basis and continues to develop today.

To appease the analytical mind, and to create a catalogue of symptoms and indications, a few ideas were employed.

The theory of yin and yang and the origin of the Tao.

The theory of the Tao is not to be mistaken with the religious following of Taoism. Taoist philosophy and religious beliefs are thought to have originated much later, as collaborated from ancient literature and teachings by the renowned Lao Tzu.

Fu Hsi, while never staking a claim in the origination of the Tao, was around much earlier than Lao Tzu. In any case, wondering where the Tao came from is as pointless as wondering about the birth of the cosmos. The Tao, being all encompassing, does not have an origin. It is a description of the reality of change and the balance of nature in all aspects of existence. The where, how, why and when is inconsequential to the Tao. We have a habit in trying to quantify everything in order to make sense of it. The theory of yin and yang helps us to grasp what is infinite in nature.

Yin and yang is a symbol of opposites – you can not have something without the other side balancing.

Yin and yang is a symbol of the concept of balance and the duality of existence. There is a little bit of something in everything else. The light of day and the darkness of night can only be quantified by their relative comparison. They only exist in our minds because of the other. This basic concept can be realised in every aspect of life. Everything is subject to change and thus everything is bound to become balanced. For example, night and day, substance and mechanism, stasis and movement, rest and work, passivity and aggression, cold and hot, empty and full, solid and hollow: all can be compared against their yin and yang counterpart.

The human body is bound by the concept of yin and yang and it is used to diagnose and treat disease in allowing the practitioner to work towards the ultimate balance of homeostasis.

What is Qi?

The concept of qi in Chinese medicine is rarely discussed but its importance lies in the core of the therapy and most patients don’t even know of its existence. Many modern TCM practitioners don’t even give it recognition beyond its symbology. Qi is often regarded as diagnostic terminology. It has become a name given to a specific pathology. Blood follows the qi, less qi is weakness and more qi is strength. This definition is watered down. It sets a limit for something which is not quantifiable and aims to measure it.

Qi is in everything. Yin and yang and the Tao are all forms of qi. Qi is not energy in the sense that we know it. When we think of energy, we think of a substance that can be spent and used like currency, when it is actually only ever redirected or converted, and like qi, neither can be destroyed. Energy is measured in force, heat and charge but now we know that it exists in all things and even in those that would appear to be stagnant. Magnetic, thermal and gravitational forces exist all around us, but we are in the habit of not feeling this.

Similar to quantum theory, qi exists as the expression of life force, but not just in all things living, but in patterns of vibrational changes which no space or matter is devoid. Electrons shift and bounce between molecules in a seemingly stagnant or solid object, while the core molecular recipe ripples outwards, creating the forms which we perceive.

This is significant in every aspect of existence and we use it in Chinese medicine. In recognising the manifestation of a microcosm, the practitioner is able to see into the body and treat the whole body macrocosm.

TCM as we know it today

The theory of Chinese medicine is becoming lost in the facts. In evolving with the modern world of research and evidence based medicine, TCM now has to comply or become lumped into the category of quackery. The evidence is there! TCM has been used to effectively treat disease for ages. While the science based advancement of acupuncture in the west benefits its exposure, many believe that this movement is a movement away from the Tao. Research based medicine is designed to gauge efficacy when compared with a placebo or a control. Comparing something that we are trying to understand (TCM), to something that we don’t understand (placebo) doesn’t have the clearest results.

The issue is that research has been structured like this based on the principle of western conventional ideologies and the two medicines could not be more different in their approach. When we apply an ancient medicine in the West, the danger is in adapting it to suit us. So instead, we need to adapt to suit the medicine.

So, the answer is, we don’t know how it works! We know what it does and we have a collection of theories about how and why, but more research needs to be applied to the mechanism of acupuncture when used in line with TCM theory, rather than efficacy and point prescription. We are taking something that when used as a whole is complete, and separating it into tiny pieces to be looked at under a microscope, all the while forgetting to see the big picture.

Does acupuncture hurt?

 

If you haven’t had acupuncture before, of course you’re going to conjure up images of needles in the skin the pain that could accompany that! But really acupuncture is mostly pain-free and actually is quite a relaxing experience. When people come out of our acupuncture rooms often they feel quite airy, relaxed and chilled out so it’s nothing to be afraid of.

The first thing to mention is that acupuncture needles are itty itty-bitty – they are very small, very fine and nothing like the needles you would have a blood test with. There are many different types of acupuncture needles, but in our clinic we only use the very best, Japanese and Korean made needles, which are some of the smallest available.

As the acupuncturist inserts the needle you may not feel anything at all, or maybe just a little pinch of the skin. Generally speaking, your acupuncture session at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health will be pain-free.

What our acupuncturists actually do is gently insert some needles as they explain to you what they are working on. Then once they have all of the needles set up and you’re nice and comfortable, they would actually leave you to ‘cook’ for a little bit and leave you to chill out with some relaxing music. This is your time, and the idea is to really allow the balance to occur while your body soaks up the treatment.

To put you at ease, we pop a little buzzer in your hand in case you move the wrong way or you are feeling a little uncomfortable so our acupuncturist can come back in and adjust the needles to make you comfortable. It really is a relaxing process, it’s not scary at all! Our acupuncturists will always be asking for feedback from you – is it comfortable? Is there anything else we can do to make it a better experience for you?

So if you’re thinking of trying acupuncture, don’t be afraid. Give it a go, it’s amazing!

And if you do want to make an appointment, call our team on 07 3367 0337. If you have any questions or you want to chat to our acupuncturists more about it, email us. The email is info@Brisbanenaturalhealth.com.au.

To make an appointment with our acupuncturists, call us on 07 3367 0337 or book online now by clicking on the booking button.

 

 

 

 

 

ACUPUNCTURE IN BRISBANE

Experienced Brisbane Acupuncturists That Address Your Whole Health.

At Shift at Brisbane Natural Health our acupuncture team’s number one priority is to leave you feeling relaxed and in a better state than when you came in. With experience in fertility, gut health, anxiety, moods and pain, our acupuncturists will help your body get back to how it’s meant to be. 

If you haven’t tried acupuncture you don’t know what you’re missing. If you have then we guess that’s why you’re here!

So how exactly does acupuncture work? Well acupuncture is one of the oldest healing systems on earth, originating in China thousands of years ago. It works by stimulating your meridians and particular points on the body with fine needles to stimulate your innate healing response and supporting your body to come back into balance.

The techniques used aim to address the cause of your illness, alleviating symptoms and assisting your whole body to heal naturally.

What can acupuncture help with?

Because acupuncture works holistically on the body, it can help with a wide range of issues. At our clinic we commonly help patients that present with issues with their digestion, stress, sleep, hormones, skin, moods and fatigue. Acupuncture has been traditionally used for thousands of years to treat hundreds of different ailments.

Is there any evidence for acupuncture?

The evidence behind the use of acupuncture is mounting. The Acupuncture Evidence Project, which was conducted in 2017, found that acupuncture had evidence of effectiveness in 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for some conditions over others. The review found there to be strong evidence for acupuncture in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (hayfever), chronic lower back pain, headaches, knee osteoarthritis, migraines and postoperative nausea and pain.

There was also moderate evidence for the use of acupuncture in many conditions, including acute lower back pain, anxiety, asthma, pelvic or back pain during pregnancy, constipation, depression (with meds), hypertension (with meds), insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), labour pain, menopausal hot flushes, neck pain, PTSD, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia (with meds), sciatica, shoulder pain, smoking cessation, and TMJ (jaw) pain.

Another area well researched for acupuncture is it’s use in infertility and IVF. This study shows that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF can improve success rates for example. For more on acupuncture in fertility and IVF, click here.

If you’re curious as to whether we have experience in treating your specific issue with acupuncture at our Brisbane clinic, call us on 07 3367 0337 and ask. You can even book a complimentary call with our acupuncturist to chat about your specific issue and see what might be needed.

Does acupuncture hurt?

There are many different types of acupuncture – ranging from relaxing to ouchy-ouchy. At Shift at Brisbane Natural Health we want you to leave feeling like you’re walking on a cloud, so we choose to provide gentle acupuncture only.

We have 2 acupuncturists at our Brisbane clinic.

Angela Marshall is a women’s health and fertility specialist acupuncturist. She has advanced training in Japanese Kiiko Matsumoto Style (KMS) acupuncture. KMS is very effective, yet gentle.Learn more about our Japanese style of acupuncture here.

Vaughn Ryan uses a modern form of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style of acupuncture, which uses very fine needles and a gentle technique – so pain is very rare. Vaughn has experience and success with a wide range of conditions, from musculoskeletal complaints, fatigue, immune problems and hormones.

Our patients leave the acupuncture room with what we endearingly call call ‘acupuncture face’ – that hazy blissed out look that shows they’ve just been taken to the relaxation zone.

Discover

At your initial appointment, your acupuncturist will use traditional diagnostic techniques to assess your health. They may look at your tongue or feel your pulse and touch areas of your body to look for tightness and tenderness, which will guide them in which points they will use in treatment. They are looking for dysfunction and blockages in your energy pathways or Qi (Chi), that may be causing illness.

Renew

The acupuncture treatment will help your body to balance, right there on the table but also for some time afterwards. It is very common for our clients to notice changes right away on the table, even before they have left the clinic. As you begin your treatment process the body begins to renew and regenerate, and your symptoms begin to reduce.

Arrive

Get back to where you want to be. Resolve or manage your issue so you can live a life that you love.

Our clients visit us from north, south and central Brisbane – so don’t be shy!

Our clinic is located in Milton, just a short drive from Paddington, Red Hill, Toowong, Indooroopilly, Brisbane city, Kelvin Grove and many other inner city Brisbane locations.  The Milton train station is right across the road and there is a bus stop right out front. Treat yourself to an hour of relaxation and renewal – book your initial appointment today.

Call our Milton clinic to find out more

Call us on 07 3367 0337 or click the online booking button to make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health and start feeling great again!

Appointments are available 6 days –  Weekdays 8am – 7pm and Saturdays 8am – 2pm


Watch our client story video to see how 3 of our clients – Tessa, Tammy and Sam went through their wellness journey with us.