What is Eastern medicine (and why should you try it)?

It's one of the world's oldest medical systems - but what exactly is Eastern Medicine? And what are the reasons to try it?

Eastern medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest medical systems, originating in China over 2000 years ago. Incorporating dietary therapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise therapy (such as Tai Chi) and other manual techniques like cupping,  traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, Madeleine Ong reveals all about this ancient medicine and some of the benefits you can expect by trying it.

What are the theories that TCM are based on?

TCM is built on the concept that the body is interconnected. In TCM:

• All organs communicate via a closed network of vessels, referred to as channels or meridians.

• Organ function and communication is dependent on the quality and flow of Qi – which translates as the ‘energy’ required for all processes of the body – and blood (that contains necessary nutrients).

• Due to this interconnectedness, all symptoms of a person are related and from a common cause. For example, muscle tension could be related to diet, sleep, stress or other factors. Identifying these factors are essential for creating effective and personalised treatments to not only target the main complaint but improve the overall quality of life.

Additionally, all phenomena including body functions and disease can be described in terms of Yin or Yang – which are considered to be complementary yet opposing forces. In TCM, an imbalance between Yin and Yang is the cause of all health complaints. This imbalance can occur through emotional stress, overwork, poor diet or environmental pathogenic factors.

How widely used and accepted is TCM in Australia?

TCM is widely used throughout Australia and growing. 1 in 10 Australians have tried acupuncture and 80% of general medical practitioners refer their patients to an acupuncturist at least once per year. Additionally, Chinese herbs used by TCM practitioners are becoming more commonly researched and are incorporated by other practitioners such as naturopaths and integrative doctors.

 What are some of the health benefits of TCM therapies?

TCM therapies aim to optimise all body systems so that symptoms will be more likely to resolve and stay resolved. This stems from the role of acupuncturists and herbalists in ancient China, who were paid to keep people healthy. If their patients got sick, they would stop paying. For these reasons, TCM is geared to achieving and maintaining symptom relief.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine and other TCM therapies are commonly used to:

• Improve energy

• Reduce pain

• Enhance sleep

• Aid digestion

• Regulate reproductive function and;

• Help emotional wellbeing

What are some of the Chinese herbs are available to consumers?

In TCM, herbs have various different properties and are used together in a formula to synergistically treat the whole person. While there are hundreds of Chinese herbs, some commonly used ones include household names such as ginger, goji berries, mint and turmeric. Other herbs include:

Astragalus – one of the major herbs used to strengthen Qi. It is commonly used in TCM to support immunity and improve energy levels.

Tienchi Ginseng – is traditionally used in TCM to regulate blood circulation. It is used to relieve bruising, swelling and pain related to soft tissue injuries.

Peony root – in TCM this herb is commonly used to build blood and support the movement of Qi for symptoms such as irritability, mild anxiety and irregular or painful periods.

Chinese Yam – is used in TCM for digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea, fatigue, bloating and lack of appetite.

How can we incorporate the principals of TCM into our lives?

To maintain the balance of Yin and Yang to, therefore, maintain health, it is important in TCM to:

• Live seasonally. This includes eating seasonal foods (e.g. warming cooked foods in winter) and modifying lifestyle appropriately (e.g. spend more time being active in summer, and more time indoors in winter)

• Exercise regularly to promote the movement of Qi and blood

• Eat a varied diet, ensuring foods are not processed, eaten in moderation and include multiple colours and flavours

Disclaimer – Please always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

This article was brought to you by Fusion Health

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