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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sometimes referred to as Oriental Medicine, is a branch of medical treatment that has its roots in centuries of Chinese culture. A form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses a variety of treatments, including Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology. TCM helps patients by utilizing methods with a long and rich cultural history.

Traditional Chinese Medicine differs from traditional Western medicine in a number of ways. Generally, TCM focuses on:


Unlike traditional western medicine, TCM is less concerned with the individual parts of the body and more concerned with their functions, such as breathing, eating, sleeping and many more.

Who benefits from this therapy?

Almost anyone can benefit from Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM can be particularly effective for diseases that are more complex with multiple causes, including metabolic diseases, degenerative conditions, chronic conditions and age-related diseases. TCM could be considered one of the first Anti-Aging Therapies! 

Acupuncture specifically, is helpful for migraines, back pain, fibromyalgia, both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD and anxiety disorders, chronic pain, neurological conditions and numerous other disorders.

What does this therapy treat?

Traditional Chinese Medicine can benefit:

  • Chronic pain

  • Arthritis
  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Chronic stress

  • Inflammation

  • Allergies & Asthma

  • Insomnia
  • Metabolic disorders

  • Degenerative conditions

  • Chronic conditions

How is this therapy administered?

Traditional Chinese Medicine features many different types of treatment. These treatments can be combined or only one may be required.

Click on topics above or scroll down to read more.



Chinese Herbology is the practice of combining individual herbs into formulas to promote health. Chinese medicine has thousands of herbs that may be used medicinally. Of these, about 400 are in common use.

Herbs are carefully selected, processed, and dried. They are given to a patient in a tea or pill, or in the form of pharmaceutical grade extracts — the growing choice for most patients and practitioners.

After a practitioner determines the nature of the patient’s disorder, a personalized herbal formula is created to correct the ailment. While a single herb may sometimes be used, combinations of herbs into complex formulas are more common.

Herbal formulas typically are initially based on a classical formula, but may also be based on modern clinical trials.

Individual herbs are then added or subtracted to fit a patient’s needs as precisely as possible and to treat all symptoms. This flexibility allows for a more targeted treatment approach.

Formulas typically contain between 5 and 15 herbs. Since it is not possible to modify ready-made pills, most practitioners prefer to use raw herbs or extracts.


Acupuncture is the application of fine, sterile needles — frequently no thicker than a cat’s whisker — into specific points on the body.

Chinese Medicine theory holds that there are meridians or channels in the body through which energy flows. These channels connect the organs with all the body’s other structures and the free flow of energy through these channels helps maintain health.

There are specific acupuncture points in precise locations on each channel and they each have a specific function. All acupuncture points have local effects and are useful for treating pain or dysfunction in a specific area. Some acupuncture points have general effects on the body as a whole or treat specific issues.

The effects of acupuncture points depend not only on the function of the points, but also on how they are needled and the depth at which they are needled. There are many different needling techniques and variations within the recommended depth of needling.


Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort or wormwood to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. In fact, the actual Chinese character for acupuncture, translated literally, means “acupuncture-moxibustion.” The purpose of moxibustion is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.

There are two kinds of moxibustion, direct and indirect.


Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form because of the lower risk of burning. With indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.


Fire Cupping is a technique that is one of the oldest methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century.

In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, lit, then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum. As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balance and realign the flow of qi, break up obstructions and create an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of medicated oils or herbal oils to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which lets them move the cups up and down particular acupoints or meridians after they have been applied.


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