What is Chinese Medicine?

July 17, 2015

a decorative image showing various items of chinese medicine

What is Chinese Medicine?

This is a simple question with a big answer. Chinese medicine is a form of medical thought and treatment that originated in China thousands of years ago. Dedicated practitioners throughout history have preserved it in very ancient books and experiences passed down by generations of practitioners in China. In the United States, acupuncture is the most popular aspect of Chinese medicine, but there are actually five branches of this medicine.

First, the foundation of it all, is Qi Gong, or what can simply be referred to as various forms of sitting and moving meditation this includes everything from calming meditation to self-healing the body from serious conditions. It is a wonderful practice that is actually gaining ground in the west as a free, easy and fun way to accomplish health goals. Qi Gong is to Chinese medicine as yoga is to Ayurveda, the medicine of India. It comes with a unique philosophy, which values simplicity, gratitude, contentment, wise behavior and habits.

Second, there is Chinese nutrition therapy. In the west when we think of nutrition, we usually think of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals, etc. However with Chinese nutrition theory, we pay more attention to the various flavors, temperatures of food, methods of cooking, types of foods that people eat that promote or diminish health. We also place emphasis on mindful eating; how one feels after they eat is something to pay attention to, in essence how food affects you.
Third, we have acupuncture and moxibustion, which is the most famous aspect of Chinese medicine here in the west. Acupuncture uses needles on specific points to engage with the body’s self healing mechanisms to restore health. It is a safe and healthy way to treat anything from pain to auto-immune diseases. It has been around for thousands of years, and medical doctors here are even accepting it in the west as a valid part of patient care. Moxibustion involves burning pieces of mugwort thread onto specific areas of the body, much like acupuncture. This is used quite commonly for things like women’s health disorders, pain, digestive upset and more. It is a very ancient practice that was very popular in the colder parts of China, but it is commonly in use in most places that Chinese medicine is practiced these days.

The next limb is bodywork therapies. There are many styles to choose from, but the most widely practiced is known as Tui Na. Tui Na works along the same theories that acupuncture is practiced through, but it is fully hands on. It is basically a medical massage but with Chinese medical principles behind it. Tui Na is a big part of our practice here at Two Trees, and people really love it for its instant results.

Next we have herbal medicine, which is a really unique aspect of Chinese medicine that isn’t found in many other popular avenues of health these days, such as chiropractic, physical therapy, western medicine, etc. Chinese herbs can come in a few ways, but what we do at Two Trees Acupuncture is custom blend individual herbs into what we call formulas that are unique to each patient based on their Chinese medical diagnosis. We do offer some pre-blended formulas, just in case someone doesn’t want to drink a custom tea of herbs. What makes our herbology unique is that we cannot simply say this herb treats X disease, that is not how our herbal theories and practices work. Instead, through careful questioning and observation, we look for what is the root cause of your health concerns, and then we formulate a recipe of herbs that addresses this root, as well as the symptoms that you come to us with. The strength of Chinese herbology is in the combination of herbs

We cannot leave anything out, and if you have a cough, you want your cough to go away, agreed? Well we not only treat the cough, we treat what causes the cough, and this is where Chinese medicine differs the most in comparison to other healing modalities. Through these five branches of Chinese medicine, we stimulate the self-healing capacities of the body to do their job and bring you back to health. It is not the herbs, nor the needles, nor the foods we prescribe that actually do the healing, it is you, the patient, that does. All we do is facilitate the experience. This, to me, is what Chinese medicine truly is all about.

-David Bonilla, LAc