How does it work?
Traditional Chinese medicine is a very broad term that covers hundreds of different treatments for every ache, pain, bruise, ailment, rash or phobia that you can imagine. There are a number of different approaches, but the main cornerstones of Chinese medicine are herbal remedies, acupuncture, Tui Na (massage) and Qigong (a method of breathing and movement).
The sheer variety of treatments comes from the combination of different philosophies: yin-yang, the five elements, the chi meridian system, Zang Fu organ theory and a few others. It may seem mystifyingly complex, but one thing that these philosophies have in common is the idea of unity and connection between your mind, body and the environment you live in. For example, a Chinese medical practitioner may use acupressure points on your body to treat something emotional like depression. This connection between the mind and body is less familiar in the western world, but it’s a widely accepted way of thinking about health in a lot of other cultures.
Seeing a Chinese medical practitioner will start with a consultation to talk about your symptoms and to decide on the best course of treatment. He or she will probably take your pulse and ask you to stick out your tongue. The health, colour and texture of your tongue is believed to be a good indicator of other areas of your health – your practitioner will be looking for signs of stress, disease and bodily imbalances.
The recommended treatment will, of course, depend on your symptoms, but there are also treatments that can be used for general therapeutic purposes - making sure your chi is flowing, your yin is balanced with your yang and generally keeping illness at bay.
Is it for me?
A lot of people turn to traditional Chinese medicine when they feel that western medicine doesn’t have the answers they need. While most practitioners would suggest Chinese medicine as a supplement to mainstream healthcare, there are some areas where it’s thought to be particularly effective. These include skin problems, digestion, hay fever and other allergies, PMS, symptoms of the menopause, lack of energy, chronic fatigue, migraines and infertility.