Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has gained worldwide respect and recognition. It is an ancient form of oriental medicine that employs Acupuncture and Herbs to address imbalances in the body that are considered to contribute to illness and disease.

The art of Chinese medicine has a history that dates back a few thousand years and integrates the concepts of Yin and Yang, the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), and the union of man and nature. This unique oriental medicine theory is rooted in Chinese philosophy and is one of a kind in the health care community.

Chinese Medicine is considered to be a complete system and is currently integrated in modern hospitals and clinics throughout most of Asia and many other nations around the world.

A basic principle of TCM is that every person is composed of both electrical energies (protons, electrons, and neutrons that create atoms which course through the body), and chemical energies (like the hormonal system). These energies are closely described as ‘Qi’ and ‘Blood’ or ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. Chinese Medicine aims to address both levels through the use of Acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies.

bowls of herbs and plants
practitioner checking the pulse on the hand of a client

TCM practitioner

To a TCM practitioner every patient is considered to be unique, exhibiting a unique set of patterns, strengths, weakness and health dysfunctions. For this reason, patients are encouraged to share all their symptoms, regardless of whether or not they believe these symptoms to be significant.

TCM practitioners aim to restore the body back into balance so that it can function more optimally. But first the practitioner must assess (via a questionnaire and interview) and diagnose by reading the pulses on both wrists. There are three points, each with three depth levels that to a well-trained therapist reveal enormous amounts about the body’s organ systems and their condition.

The TCM treatment will then depend on which energy channel (meridian) is considered to be affected so that the experienced practitioner can address the imbalance with herbal remedies, dietary recommendations, acupuncture or acupressure massage.

Treatment Modalities May Include:

Chinese Herbs

 Herbal medicine is an integral part of Chinese medicine. The majority of the Chinese herbal medicine is from organic plant substances and certain minerals. Herbal formulae rarely elicit side effects and have been used for centuries across large populations. These formulations, when prescribed by a well-trained practitioner, can be used by adults, children, and the elderly, and are prescribed specificially for an individual’s needs. It is common for a TCM practitioner to combine prescription of Chinese herbs and acupuncture.


Acupuncture is a natural and gentle treatment that involves the insertion of fine needles in specific points along the body that are considered to either directly relate to or influence the disorder that your Acupuncturist is seeking to balance. For more information we refer you to the Acupuncture Evidence Project to help you determine whether TCM may be the treatment of choice for your particular disorder. However, we advise that there are many other conditions that may be helped, managed or supported with TCM but for which there is still insufficient western scientific evidence.


 This is a treatment technique in which local suction is created on the skin to allow toxins and stagnant blood flow to rise to the surface. Clearing stagnations stimulates tissue repair and facilitates restoration of function. Cupping is commonly used by practitioners to address conditions such as asthma, the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis, gynaecological disorders, pain conditions and skin complaints.


 A form of thermal treatment that some Acupuncturists use to address, among other things, the symptoms of chronic musculoskeletal conditions, head colds and flu. The method often involves placing a small amount of mugwort herb in the centre of a disc that sits on the body. The practitioner then lights the herb, the warming effect of which penetrates the protective disc gently warming the selected acupuncture points.

Ear Acupuncture

 Also known as auricular therapy, it is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is regularly incorporated into an acupuncture treatment session. Widely used by therapists who aim to assist in the management of addictions, mood disturbances, obesity and pain.

How Long Will It Take To Achieve Results?

In general, acute conditions require fewer treatments and chronic conditions often need a longer commitment to regular treatment. Since every client’s health condition and constitution is unique, the number of and frequency of treatments varies. Many clients report experiencing some relief after the first few treatments. Just like the seasons, healing occurs in cycles. Recovery may include periods of change and then may plateau. While undergoing therapy for one aliment, other problems may resolve and over time, general health and wellbeing may be enhanced.

Six wooden spoons containing dried herbs and leaves

Chinese Medicine works best when patients are dedicated to their own healing, by adopting healthy daily habits (balanced and informed nutrition, exercise, stress-reduction). Because TCM has such a strong preventative component and is often employed to maintain health rather than to treat illness, TCM practitioners in China were once paid to keep people well and were not paid when they were required to treat a patient who had fallen ill.