Blogs by Topic: Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a whole, unique system of medicine that was developed thousands of years ago. It has a very different perspective than what we know in Western culture, and these blog posts are meant to elucidate some of its theories.


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Can Emotions Impact Physical Health?

Happy beach ball on beach
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Organ Disharmony in Chinese Medicine

surprised seagull at beach
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Acupuncture & Religion

man praying at beach
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Acupressure 101

Massaging acupuncture points at beach
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Tongue Diagnosis in TCM

Chinese medicine tongue diagnosis
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What are meridians?

It is generally believed that acupuncture started when people noticed a specific point on the body could cause a certain response. As more and more of these points were discovered, they realized that some had similarities to one another and were probably connected. These strings of points are now known as channels or meridians.


Another theory is that people discovered meridians first and then found specific points on them, which would be the same as reading the image to the left from bottom to top. Either way we're left with the same result: Your body is a system of meridians that acupuncturists use to influence your health.


You can think of your body as a web of meridians. There are fourteen that have named points that are used by acupuncturists. They vary in size, the shortest having only nine points and the longest having sixty-seven. 


A common misconception is that meridians are actually blood vessels or nerves. Although acupuncture can have an effect on both the circulatory and nervous systems, the meridians are their own separate entities. However, meridians are similar to blood vessels in that they form a closed-circuit loop and are a transit system in which Qi and blood flow from your organs to the rest of your body (and back). When the meridians are blocked, everything gets thrown off balance, like when a traffic jam on a highway can cause congestion on others as everyone tries to find an alternate route. Balance is key to health, so keeping everything flowing smoothly through the meridians is of utmost importance. Work on yours at home with Qi Gong, yoga, and acupressure, but regularly schedule your acupuncture visits as well to give the body an even bigger push in the right direction! 

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Eastern and Western Health Perspectives

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What is Qi?

Why are you able to breathe? Although the process seems simple, there are many different answers to this question, each of which is correct in its own perspective.

  • An M.D. would explain the intricacies of the autonomic nervous system, the physics of negative air pressure, the structure of the lungs' aveoli, and other technial aspects of the anatomy and physiology involved.
  • Someone in the general public might attribute the act of breathing to the soul. (Although Traditional Chinese Medicine does has the concept of soul, it's not exactly related to this question.)
  • A Licensed Acupuncturist will tell you that you can breathe because the Lung Qi is sufficient, meaning the Lungs have enough energy to carry out the action of breathing. As a contrasting example, someone with deficient Lung Qi might have shortness of breath.

In the big picture, Qi is what makes up the universe - think of how even the smallest atoms in a solid object like a desk are technically all still moving - but most people use Qi more or less interchangeably with energy because it's easier to understand. In our bodies, Qi constantly circulates through our meridians with our Blood, and just as there are different types of energy - nuclear, solar, potential, kinetic, etc. - there are different types of Qi in our bodies, all of which have their own important part to play in our overall health and wellness.


Our day-to-day Qi comes from the air we breathe and the food we eat, so by practicing breathing exercises like Qi Gong or meditation and eating nutritious foods, we provide our bodies with the energy they need to function. Sometimes, though, the body is so muddled with our unhealthy lifestyle choices, that it forgets how to harness this energy on its own, and that's where acupuncture, herbal medicine, and a more targeted diet approach can make a huge difference!

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Adrenal Fatigue: What is it and how do you fix it?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we don't have the concept of adrenal fatigue because thousands of years ago hormones weren't on health practitioners' radar. They did, however, realize that long-lasting stress, improper diet, too much or too little exercise, and other poor lifestyle choices could cause a person to become chronically rundown, which they diagnosed as "Kidney deficiency". Really the two conditions are one in the same, which means we can treat adrenal fatigue from both perspectives!


First, though, what is adrenal fatigue? The adrenal glands sit on top of our kidneys and produce a few key hormones, some of which are involved in our "flight or fight" response. This adaptation was invaluable to our ancestors as they would face predators and other dangers. Nowadays, our common stressors are minor in comparison - traffic jams and work deadlines, for instance - and prolonged, but they still trigger the same response. The changes in our heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, etc. are in part due to our adrenal glands pumping out hormones to help us fight or flee from the stressful situation. When our stress is chronic, the adrenal glands will constantly pump out these hormones and become fatigued over time, leaving us feeling constantly drained and exhausted.


Of course, prevention is the best medicine! Practice regular self-care and stress management so that your body won't feel like it's under attack. (If this is difficult for you, read our previous posts on meditation and stress busters.) If you're past that point and already experiencing symptoms, supplementation is often needed to reset the body. Acupuncture will help regulate hormone levels and give you a chance to relax while the body builds up Qi (energy), and Chinese herbal formulas containing herbs that tonify the Kidneys will build up Yin, Qi, and/or Yang to help your other accompanying symptoms as well. From a Western holistic perspective, supplements containing adrenal extracts give the adrenal glands more support and fill in nutritional gaps that are often missing in our modern diet. 


If you've been feeling exhausted for a long time, especially after going through a stressful situation, consider trying some - or ideally all - of these methods to build yourself back up again. Each of us only has one life to live; don't you want one that's full of vibrant energy?

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