What's involved in the practice of Chinese medicine?

This post will introduce the basic components of Chinese medicine. I think it is important that the reader review the page "Chinese medicine: style defined" so there is an understanding of the various styles of practice. This post will concern itself with Neijing Classical Medicine. Chinese medicine is a very diverse medical practice - a medicine that was first systematised over 2200 years ago. Having such a long and rich history it is understandable that naturally many modalities of practice would be adopted and incorporated into the system. This is one of the attracting features of Chinese medicine - its ability to adapt and integrate. So, what are the modalities that a practitioner may draw upon?

Acupuncture & Moxibustion: 鍼灸 Zhēnjiǔ which means to needle or puncture and cauterise or heat. They are part and parcel of the same practice. Acupuncture is what most people think of when they think of Chinese medicine. However, besides popular belief, it is not just the insertion of needles. Acupuncture involves filiform (hair-like) needling, micro-bleeding, blunt needle or massage with blunt needles (non-insertion techniques), intra-dermal needles, plum blossom needles, and press tacks. Whether these types of needles are employed or not depends on the diagnosis, individual condition, and the practitioner. Moxibustion is the art and science of burning herbs (either in the form of punk / raw or a stick) over specific areas of the body to generate heat.

Chinese herbal medicine: pinyin: zhōngyào xué. Chinese herbology is the refined method of herbal prescription. It encompasses a huge portion of the Chinese medical tradition and has formed the basis of much of the history of medicine in China. Many of the specialities in Chinese medicine revolve around herbal medicine, such as the Shanghanlun, Piweilun, Wenbingxue, and so on. Herbal medicine is as important as Acupuncture - they both work on the same body but can achieve different affects. Generally Acupuncture is more subtle working on the channel pathways enabling free movement while herbology focuses (depending on style) on the inner organs and can be quite direct (such as purgation or diaphoreses). 

Cupping: This involves the application of glass, plastic, or bamboo "cups" over a specific area (usually the back or abdomen). It is a painless procedure dependant upon the skill of the practitioner. The traditional method of "fire cupping" is most commonly used globally, however, the suction version is becoming increasingly popular.

Scraping: Known as Guasha is the method of scraping a smooth bone, jade, stone, or ceramic material over certain regions of the body. It has a similar affect to cupping as it draws out toxins, cold, heat, and painful obstruction from the muscles and bodily structures.

Dietetics: This is merely an extension of the herbal tradition in Chinese medicine. Understanding food and their medical importance is vital to Chinese medicine. The basic rule of Chinese dietetics is that one must follow the seasonal constitution of foods. This is a subject i will expand upon in further posts.

Healing Exercises: Daoyin (guiding and stretching), Qigong (breath cultivation), and other associated practices are he cornerstone of Chinese medicine and Chinese culture. These methods enable treu immersion for the practitioner and patient into the understanding of their body and how it functions. Practices such as Taijiquan, Yogic exercises (Qigong practices like Baduanjin), and other methods of self massage allow for proper movement of the fundamental substances through the body.

Anmo Tuina: Chinese therapeutic massage. Acupressure and palpation methods are often used for assisting the Chinese medicine practitioner. This will also be expanded on in later posts.

All of the above are involved in the treatment and management of all types of disorders and diseases. Even though Chinese medicine does not share the same "disease names" as in western medicine - remember it is an old approach to the body and hence different understanding was employed. For the sake of ease modern disease names will be included in the following list:
  • Pain and sports injuries, both acute and chronic;
  • Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, colds and flus, cough;
  • Gastric disease such as IBS, inflammatory disease, gastritis, bloating, ulcers;
  • Gynaecological disorders such as PMT, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea;
  • Infertility, sub-fertility, and IVF support;
  • Neurological disease such as stroke, spinal cord injury, MS, polio, migraine;
  • Sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep related issues;
  • Psychological issues such as stress, anger management, anxiety;
  • Obstetric disorders such as morning sickness, post-partum care;
  • Headaches, RSI, tension and other office related pains and discomforts;
  • Thyroid disorders;
  • Addictions;
  • Signs and symptoms associated with chronic disease such as cancer and auto-immune disease.
Of course the above are not the only problems that can be treated or managed by Acupuncture & Chinese medicine.

If you are looking for a practitioner in the Sydney city please call one of the above phone numbers or visit www.classicalacupuncture.com.au. For practitioners outside of Sydney please visit www.acupuncture.org.au and visit the find a practitioner link.

David White Classical Acupuncture www.classicalacupuncture.com.au

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