How did TCM originate?
TCM is an important invention of the Chinese nation. The practice seemed to have its beginnings as early as the clan commune of their primitive society. The activities of human beings appeared an about one million seven hundred thousand years ago and it was about 100 thousand years ago it developed quickly and for several thousand years has played an important role in curing diseases and protecting the health of the Chinese people.
Korea, Japan, and Vietnam were introduced to TCM during the sixth century. By the 16th century, it was being introduced to Europe. France made an early contribution to spreading this therapy throughout Europe. China gave assistance to the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries during the 1950’s. Since 1975 TCM courses have been taught in China at the request of the World Health Organization. More than 100 countries have graduated Herbalists and Acupuncturists from these schools. In some countries teaching and scientific research of TCM has been carried out with good results.
Here in the U. S., there is an examination board called the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. There is also a Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Schools. These organizations have been in place since the 1980’s. Presently there are more than 20000 acupuncturists in the U.S.
Just what is TCM?
There are a few governing theories and principles within TCM. The theory of Yin/Yang is one of them. The normal vital activities of our bodies are based on the co-ordination of Yin and Yang in a unity of opposites. Functional activities of your body pertain to Yang and nutrient substances to Yin. The functional activities of your body depend on the support of nutrient substances, therefore without nutrients substances, there would be no sustenance for functional activities. At the same time, functional activities are the motive power for the production of nutrient substances in your body, because, without the functional activities of your organs, water and food couldn’t be transformed into nutrient substances. Each organ of your body has a special function and requires nutrients so they also possess Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang act together to protect your body from invasion by pathogenic factors that can range from bacteria and virus to heat and cold. If Yin and Yang lose this relative balance it results in illness.
In the spirit of supporting pairs, another concept, Zang-Fu, characterizes the organs of your body. The Zang organ of your heart is paired with the Fu organs of your small intestine, your lung with your large intestine; spleen and stomach; liver and gallbladder, and uterus are known as the extraordinary Fu organs. The main function of your Zang organs is to manufacture and store substances including Vital Essence (like hormones), Qi-or Life Energy, Blood and body fluid. For example, your liver stores blood, your kidneys store essence and dominate development and reproduction. The main physiological function of the Fu organs is to receive and digest food and transmit and excrete waste. The Theory of Zang Xiang developed by an ancient Chinese, doctor considers the physiological function and pathological changes of the Zang-Fu organs and how they interrelate with each other. Zang refers to the interior location of the Zang-Fu organs and Xiang denotes their manifestation or image. In other words, the Zang-Fu organs are located on the inside of your body but their physiological activities and pathological changes are reflected on the exterior.
This inside/outside tug-of-war is made clear in the Theory of Meridians and Collaterals. These are the pathways in which your Qi and blood circulate. The meridians and points that he along them pertain to the Zan Fu organs on the inside, yet are manifested on the exteriors for access by acupressure massage, or acupuncture.
You may be familiar with the lines and points on the charts hanging on the walls of your TCM practitioner’s office. This network linking inside with outside also connects your tissues and organs into a complete organic entity. The meridians run up and down inside your body, while the collaterals run side-to-side on the outside. In TCM they are collectively called Ging Lo (Ting Luo). There is a direct relationship between the observation of symptoms and signs of ailments and transmission of needling sensation from acupuncture or the application of acupressure.
The acupoints are the specific site through which the Qi of the Zang-Fu organs and meridians are transported to the surface. The two Chinese characters that make up the English word of acupoints are literally translated into transportation and hole. This is where needles or pressure is applied because the acupoints are not only pathways for circulation of Qi and blood, but they are also the location of responses to disorders. This is why you might see an acupoint on a chart somewhere on your foot but it relates to your spleen. Modem electromagnetic research has been done to confirm these points and their locations.
Acupuncture, Acupressure, moxibustion, or a combination of these techniques will be chosen as the proper method to be applied to the acupoints to regulate the functional activities of your body and strengthen your body’s resistance in an effort to prevent or remove an ailment.
Just what are Qi, Blood, and Body Fluid?
Your Qi, Blood, and Body fluid are the fundamental substances which maintain the normal vital activities of your body. They are the material foundation for the physiological function of the Zang- Fu organs and tissues and meridians. Qi seems to be a difficult concept to understand because it is too rarified to be seen like blood or fluid. Like the movement of the leaves on a tree showing that there is wind- Qi’s existence is shown by the function of your Zang-Fu organs. All of the vital activities of the human body are explained by changes and movement of Qi. Qi is often called energy. When the iron in your red blood cells is circulated throughout your body it creates an electromagnetic field, which shows how closely Qi and blood are related. Qi can be thought of separately and has more attributes than just energy, but it is a start for this mysterious word.
How will my TCM practitioner evaluate my health?
There are four methods of evaluation: Inspection, auscultation (listening), Olfaction (smelling), inquiring and palpation. TCM practitioners inspect by observing with their eyes the systemic and regional changes in your vitality, color and appearance. Auscultation and olfaction determine pathological changes by listening and smelling. Inquiring is asking questions of you or your companion about the onset and progression of your ailment, the present symptoms and sings, and other conditions related to your particular complaint. Palpation is a method of evaluation in which the pathological condition is detected by feeling your pulse and palpating your skin, the area around your stomach and abdomen, hands, feet, and other parts of your body.
Of all these methods the most important are feeling your pulse and viewing your tongue. There are 30 different pulses that TCM considers. Each reflects a different condition. When the TCM practitioner looks at your to tongue, they are considering the tongue proper made up of muscular tissue and the coating the layer of moss over your tongue’s surface. Much information can be gained from viewing your tongue.
Since we have come to realize from the beginning of this tape that your body is an organic entity interconnected by Zang-Fu, Meridians and Collaterals, Qi, Blood and Fluid; so too the methods of evaluation cannot be separated because they relate to, and supplement one another.
What health care methods does TCM offer?
TCM includes four parts: Chinese herbs, acupuncture, acupressure, and moxibustion.
Chinese herbs have a very good effect is you have internal problems, gynecological, or dermatological problems. Acupuncture and acupressure are beneficial to your nervous system and digestive system. Moxibustion has a very good effect for Yang deficiencies. In some cases, the best result is achieved by combining herbs and acupuncture or herbs and acupressure. Acupuncture and acupressure have almost the same function. Both work on a certain point using either needles or just the hands of the TCM practitioner. For some conditions, one will provide better results than the other.
The World Health Organization recognizes the following list of problems, which can be treated with acupuncture.
Ear, nose and throat disorders, including toothaches pain after root extraction, earaches, sinus inflammation, nasal inflammation or dryness.
Respiratory Disorders such as uncomplicated bronchial asthma in children or adults.
Gastrointestinal Disorders including digestive tract problems, hiccups, inflammation of the stomach, chronic duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the colon, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery caused by certain bacteria.
Eye disorders include inflammation of the conjunctiva, inflammation of the central retina, nearsightedness in children, and uncomplicated cataracts.
Nervous system and muscular disorders such as headaches, migraines, certain facial
paralysis or nerve pain, partial weakness after a stroke, inflammation of nerve endings,
bed wetting, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries in China for knee pain, sprains and strains, and most gynecological complaints.