Traditional Chinese Medicine Here and Now in St. John’s
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM as it is commonly called, is a form of Eastern medicine developed more than 2000 years ago. Based on the principles of yin and yang, this ancient medicine is as relevant today as it ever was. With the primary focus of wellness rooted in maintaining balance, practitioners of TCM view and treat the body as a whole; physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Combining TCM Modalities for Better Results It is believed that when one “system” is unbalanced, disease or pain results, and if left untreated, will eventually cause further disharmony. Diet, lifestyle, and stress can all be contributing factors. Treatment principles are based on the root cause identified. Modalities used in treatment can vary, and often involve combinations of the following:
Acupuncture is a key component of TCM, and involves the insertion of very thin pre-sterilized needles at strategic sites known as “acu points” on the body’s surface.
Acupuncture is used to stimulate or regulate the flow of “Qi” or vital energy. Qi circulates through pathways known as meridians that connect to internal structures and organs of the body. When these pathways are obstructed, pain can result. The Gate control theory suggests that acupuncture blocks pain impulses from reaching the brain or spinal cord, thus “shutting the gate” to pain.
Studies also show that acupuncture increases the number of blood cells produced by the body, enhancing immunity. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture is effective in treating a wide variety of both internal conditions such as infertility, menopausal symptoms and fibromyalgia as well as acute and chronic pain syndromes such as injuries, arthritis and back pain.
Cupping is a commonly used modality which involves the application of local suction on the skin to mobilize blood flow. Suction is created mechanically or by heat, causing the superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup.
Once suction has occurred, the cups can be left in place or gently glided across the skin. Cupping is much like inverse massage; it uses gentle pressure to pull muscles upwards, as opposed to applying pressure. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and invigorating sensation. Tissue is affected up to 4 inches below the external layer of skin, resulting in the release of toxins and relieving stagnation. The “negative pressure” provided by cupping can loosen tight muscles, encourage blood flow and improved circulation, and sedate the nervous system – making it an excellent treatment for lowering blood pressure or pain relief.
Tuina is a form of Asian bodywork that uses touch to balance the body’s energy. Tuina literally translates to “push &pull” and involves gentle stretching and /or shaking of joints and muscles. The flow of energy affects all the body’s circulatory system, not only blood, but nerves, hormones and lymph as well.
The massaging action of tuina unblocks energy, bringing it to the surface, dispersing it, and restoring a healthy, balanced flow. Once energy is balanced, the body and brain communicate efficiently through the various systems: lymphatic, endocrine, and nervous. Immunity is enhanced, and tight, tense muscles are relaxed.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried herbs – mugwort – is burned on or near various acu points on the surface of the skin. This action warms and invigorates the flow of Qi, and can dispel certain pathogens. “Moxa” is commonly used to treat pain conditions such as arthritis, and is effective in turning breech babies
Gua Sha is a TCM practice involving scraping (gua) which produces light bruising (sha) . The purpose of guasha is to release unhealthy elements from injured areas to promote blood flow and healing. Raising sha removes blood stagnation and the resulting petechiae produces an anti-inflammatory effect. Guasha is often used to dispel a cold or virus, and is also effective for promoting healing at the direct site of an injury.