What is Traditional Chinese Medicine? There are many branches to Traditional Chinese Medicine including: Acupuncture, Qigong and Taichi (practices of mindfulness, stillness, and embodiment), Tuina (bodywork), Reflexology, Dietary Nutrition, and Herbalism. My four year postgraduate training included courses on all of these as well as the foundations of this medicine such as yin/yang and 5 element theory. To bridge with allopathic (western) medicine, I have studied anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and herb-drug interaction. Below I offer a brief explanation of each branch and how I work with them.
Acupuncture is what most people think of if they have ever heard anything about traditional east asian medicine. I think of it as electromagnetic recalibration. It is the application of microfine single-use pins to specific points on the body. The big question is always “How does it work?” Studies have chronicled a number of changes before and after acupuncture based off of changes in the blood chemistry. This has demonstrated that the stimulation of these points can impact the body’s release of endorphins, white blood cells, antibodies, and neurotransmitters to name a few. This initiates a set of chain reactions in the body’s self regulating system to result in self-healing. With the advancement of technology, researchers are able to observe and study electromagnetic pathways in the body. My understanding of acupuncture meridians fits with these newer observations and I am excited to see the information that will come out on this topic in the coming years.
Cupping & Gua Sha
Cupping & Gua Sha are examples of manual therapy that are a type of Oriental Medicine. Cups and Gha Sha are tools utilizes to promote the movement of blood and lymph in areas where it may have become congested. These are also ways to work with acupuncture points when acupuncture needles are not preferred. Both of these tools can help relax muscles, and stimulate the flow of nutrients as well as antibodies and white blood cells to that area, promoting healing. It is extremely effective in alleviating respiratory and musculoskeletal complaints.
Tuina is a type of hands on bodywork typically done over clothing. It involves a lot of stretching and rocking techniques as well as acupressure alleviate complaints of the internal organs, as well as musculoskeletal discomfort. As with cupping, tuina promotes lymphatic drainage and blood circulation to release congestion in the body that is blocking the transportation of vital nutrients and causing discomfort and illness. I have noticed a strong overlap in the treatment methods of Tuina and Arvigo Abdominal Therapy. Depending on the needs of clients I may provide an entire session of this bodywork, or combine elements of it before or after acupuncture.
Herbal Medicine is a branch of Oriental Medicine that is even older than Acupuncture. Starting out as folk medicine in China, Doctors took over studying and recording the impacts of different plant materials on individuals. As early as the 3rd century Doctors were aware that specific compounds in the plants were responsible for certain medicinal properties, and continued to use the plant in the whole form because they also noticed that other substances in the plant counterbalanced potentially negative side affects. Over time, observation, and recording of knowledge the current system of using formulas developed. Through an intimate knowledge of the impacts different plant materials have on different conditions, as well as the ways they interact with each other, patients receive extremely personalized herbal formulas geared towards them specifically.
I believe strongly that sometimes our bodies simply need more nutrients to heal. My focus is on foundational support and thus I offer a select few supplements that I consider fill the gaps in the modern diet. Brands that I currently work with are Thorne, Standard Process, and Rainforest Remedies, Evergreen Herbs, and Griffo Botanicals.
Qigong & Taichi
Qigong and Taichi are a range of practices from moderately active to completely still. One of the challenges of most people is that we are so busy thinking and receiving input from the sensory organs on our head (smell, sight, sound, taste), that we are fairly disconnected from the rest of our bodies. These practices help us to get more in touch with the rest of our bodies, supporting relaxation and healing. I often incorporate guided relaxation to clients, helping them to pause thinking and get in more healing states.
There is a saying, “To heal you need to remove yourself from the environment.” Sessions are in a peaceful and relaxing setting to support you physically and psychologically getting the most out of your experience.
When we are not functioning at our optimum, our bodies usually need repetition to shift their way back to health. Acupuncture sessions build off of each other so that with each session, if not spaced too far apart, you should notice more improvement. Also, our bodies do not always mend in the exact way we want. For this reason pay attention to all improvements. Your emotions may become more level before your sleep improves or maybe your bloating goes away before your shoulder pain. Keep in mind that all the parts of your body are just that; parts of the whole. Illness in one part impacts the others, and thus optimal health means healing the whole.