A modern perspective on Traditional Chinese Medicine

A modern perspective on Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is no longer a mysterious shop with a red neon sign and a therapist holding a smelly and smoky moxa stick in a dark and dusty room.


In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient practice with many modern-day applications. TCM gives us a wide variety of healing techniques, tools and resources to help achieve health and harmony in life.

You’ve almost certainly used TCM without even knowing it, from the Gua Sha tool you bought on Instagram to massage wrinkles to the Ginger you put in your tea to ease nausea after a big night out.


The basics of TCM

Our bodies are covered in channels that help our vital energy Qi move freely around it. Qi comes from a few sources, but initially is born from our parents when we are conceived. We enter this world with a stock of energy called our essence; this is precious and we don’t want to waste it so our bodies use food and drink as our daily fuel. Qi goes through many transformations and transportations to reach every internal organ and meridian.

When Qi can’t circulate freely, an internal traffic jam occurs. The body tries to overcompensate, and this is when sickness happens. Sickness is a signal from the body that indicates disharmony and the need to rebalance and unblock the flow of Qi.

Depending on what we are going through in life, the quality of our diet, our sleep, or our physical activity, our body will manifest this imbalance in different ways unique to the individual. The beauty of TCM is that it’s considered a preventive medicine, meaning that instead of fixing the problem once it's occurred, we treat a person to avoid them getting sick in the first place by keeping their bodily systems happy and healthy. In fact, in the origins of this practice the practitioner would not be paid if a patient was getting sick because they had failed to keep their patient healthy!


Applications in modern day

TCM diagnostic techniques are unique and may seem a little intrusive, but there is nothing weird about them. They are simply our way of finding out where an imbalance exists to help formulate the best treatment plan. When we diagnose a patient, we are trying to identify the source of the problem that is provoking the symptoms, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Every treatment plan is personalised and adapted to the client on the day of their consultation. After a long conversation about their lifestyle and complaints, the therapist will ask the client to stick out their tongue to examine its colour and shape. Our bodies have many maps which reflect our internal health, and the tongue is just one of them! Another map which is essential in the diagnostic process is the pulse. We take a client’s pulse on each wrist to highlight any deficiency or excess within the meridians.


The point of Acupuncture

Among all the tools available in TCM, one of the most used is acupuncture. Our meridians are covered with points which have a specific action, and when stimulated, they activate a certain body response. Sometimes a point on the back can act on the lower limbs, and vice versa. This is why you might seek treatment for a headache, but we needle your feet. No, we did not mistake your feet for your head – we are simply choosing the right point according to the source of the imbalance in your body!

Acupuncture can sound super scary, but when you are treated by a qualified practitioner who knows what they’re doing you have nothing to fear. The needles are incredibly fine and their sizes vary depending on the zone being treated.


Additional TCM techniques

TCM has many techniques that a practitioner can use depending on your needs. Other common practices include herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, Gua Sha, massage therapy and more. Each one can be powerful and have strong effects and they’re often used in combination to achieve the best outcomes.

TCM can be used in the treatment of many things and follow the classic philosophy of Yin Yang and the theory that our body can rebalance anything that is unbalanced in the first place. Clients can present with any manner of issues and some practitioners will often specialise in certain conditions such as mental health, musculoskeletal issues or even fertility and women’s health.


Working with TCM for overall wellness

It is important to know that TCM is a complementary medicine that doesn’t replace a general practitioner’s advice, so it is recommended to ask for your GP’s recommendations first. It is also a long-term medicine that involves your entire body in the process of healing, so whatever your condition is, remember to be kind to yourself and allow your system time to process each treatment. Healing doesn’t happen in the blink of eye; it takes time to get sick, so give yourself time to get better.

To get the best out of your treatments, avoid drinking anything with a strong colour such as coffee or beetroot juice before your appointment because the colour of your tongue is crucial in the diagnosis! Try to relax as much as you can when receiving the acupuncture needles and this will help with easy and painless insertion. Finally, make sure you turn off your phone, then close your eyes, and have the best acu-nap of your life.

 Words: Floriane Fonzes

The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.