How Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Improve Your Health?

Ruth Lee
29 April, 2020


With the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people are looking for ways to boost their immune system to lower their chances of being affected. Other than maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, some may even take supplements to help boost their immunity. While that is good and all, have you ever considered going for something more natural, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? TCM involves the use of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping, qi-gong and many other traditional therapies to treat illnesses and it can certainly help boost your immunity during these times!

TCM: A therapy steeped in tradition

The traditional philosophy behind TCM is this: our bodies consist of Qi (which means ‘air’ in Chinese) and Blood, which are vital energies circulating through us at all times. If this normal flow is interrupted or blocked, we may easily fall sick as it negatively affects our bodies. So TCM is all about making sure these vital energies are flowing normally.

Acupuncture: Let the needles do their magic therapy steeped in tradition


Acupuncture works by stimulating specific portions of the autonomic nervous system through selected acupoints. While that sounds like a mouthful, it basically means that it triggers responses in the immune system to enhance blood circulation, which unblocks pathways.

‘Does it hurt?’ This is probably the first question every client asks when I tell them about acupuncture. I don’t blame them for asking, because I’ll be inserting needles into their bodies! I would say that it’s a different experience for everyone, but it’s usually not painful. The needles are hair thin, so you’ll only feel a slight prick. I have treated kids and even babies with acupuncture, so yeah, it’s definitely a bearable experience.

The needles will remain in your body for around 20-25 minutes before they are taken out. It may sound peculiar, but patients often feel so relaxed that they doze off with needles all over them! People who come out of an acupuncture session feeling relaxed and refreshed, and that’s because the flow of their Qi is restored.

Cupping: The only hickeys you can show off to everyone

Cupping works with the same principles as acupuncture. It involves suctioning which is created either by heated cups or a handheld pump. The cups will remain on the skin for 5 to 15 minutes, often leaving their signature circular hickey-like bruises once they are removed.

These bruises are indications of internal pathogens such as coldness or dampness, which will fade within a few days. One thing to note is that the darker the bruises, the more stressed your body is. While cupping can alleviate the muscle pain and stress, it should also act as a good reminder to take care of yourself!

Herbal Soup: Basically TCM at Home

Stewed soups are no doubt a staple for Chinese family dinners, especially in Cantonese cuisine, famous for its Lao Huo Tang (Double-stewed soups). These soups use simple ingredients like pork, chicken and vegetables, but can also incorporate traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients like ginseng, goji berries and Chinese yams where you can get in TCM stores.

I would like to introduce a medicinal ingredient you might be familiar with: fish mint. It is an ingredient that is in season right now. Fish mint is very common in TCM, and it is seen as a natural antibiotic by Chinese medicine practitioners.

Chinese people also put fish mint in stewed soups to prevent cold and flu, so you should try making this soup at home too! I have just shared a video above to demonstrate how to make a Fish mint lung cleansing soup with Fish mint, sugarcane, water chestnuts and apples. It is a delicious drink for everyone in the family.

Cupping at Home: Definitely an Instagram worthy experience

To maintain regular wellness, I usually recommend undergoing acupuncture 1-3 times a week and cupping once a week. This ensures that your pathways are unblocked and open to protect you from falling sick. But with everyone stuck at home, I recommend an alternative: cupping at home!

Yes, you can actually do cupping yourself. This set of AcuTouch energy cups that I’ve created makes cupping a treatment that is very doable at home. These AcuTouch cups are made of silicone, so you can form the vacuum simply by squeezing the cup to expel the air. This means that anyone can do cupping at home and enjoy the benefits they like. I think filming the process is going to be interesting, so what better time to do it than now!

This article was written by Ruth Lee and originally appeared on Nana Asia. It is shared with their kind permission.

Treating People, not Diseases. Know Your Chinese Medicine Body Type.

Prof. Wang Qi from Beijing University explains the story behind the Body Type System.

One of the most fascinating treatment methods in TCM is to determine the Body Constitution Type. Oriental Health is working with this system, because it enables the doctor to identify the optimal treatment for every patient. Even more importantly, it gives the patient the chance to understand the own body and live healthy. On the International Conference of the Modernization of Chinese Medicine & Health Products in August 2014 we were honored to talk to one of the most important figures for the development of the Body Constitution Type System, Prof. Wang Qi from Beijing University.

 

Oriental Health:
Prof. Wang, thank you very much for this interview and sharing your thoughts with us. For many years you have been doing intensive research on TCM, and you already published a great volume of scientific literature in national and international journals. Regarding your research on the Body Constitution Types, we would like to know: When you started your work thirty years ago, what was your original motivation?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
My motivation… Well, I was wondering: How come we can cure one person with a certain drug easily, but for the next person the exact same medicine doesn’ t seem to work at all? Is the medicine gone bad within a blink of an eye? Or is it something else, that we might overlook?

 

If two people have the same illness, but the same treatment can’t cure both of them, we shouldn´t wonder about the drug, but switch our focus to the patient. Every patient is different, so the treatment must reflect that. In fact, we must change the order of treatment altogether: Patient comes first, only then followed by the illness. In a second step it is then important to make sure we don’t look at „Sick People“, but at „People’s Sickness“.

 

Oriental Health:
Could you explain to us how the system of the Body Constitution Types / Chinese Medicine Body Type came to life?

 

Dr. Wang Qi:
We were looking for a modular framework, that could easily be applied to all kinds of different patients. So we started our project and categorized health statuses, illnesses and their similarities of 12000 probands. It took a while, but step by step we managed to reduce the categories and in the end we established nine different Body Constitution Types. Similariy we developed a questionnaire to identify each patients constitution easily.

 

Oriental Health:
From your experience, how long does it usually take for a patient to reach a balanced level?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
Once identified, the doctor will consider the Body Constitution Type and chose the treatment accordingly. Due to this customized but easy to apply treatment, the recovery of the whole body system to a balanced level will usually need only half a year, followed by another six month of stabilization.

 

Oriental Health:
Now let’s have a look at the bigger picture. Where do you see the Traditional Chinese Medicine on an international level? In your opinion, does TCM apply to everybody and can non-Asians profit from it, too?  

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
As I said, every patient is unique. Moreover, the environment and circumstances we live in vary a lot. But as we look closer at China, we see a vast country with many kinds of geology and living circumstances. People from Guangzhou and Tibet traditionally differ in diet and lifestyle as well as their looks, but still the Body Constitutions apply to both of them. It works, because the system assesses the individual body traits, not race or skin color. Interestingly though, living circumstances and DNA play a vital role as they can influence the proportional distribution of the Body Constitution Types in a society.

 

Oriental Health:
Could you give us an idea about the future of TCM? For example, may we ask what are you currently working on?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
We currently analyze which Body Constitution Type is prone to which illness. We know for example that among Blue Discomfort Types a common illness is Depression. If patients and doctors are aware of these susceptibilities, spotting symptoms and curing developing illnesses will be much more effective.

And even though the Body Constitution Types already play a successful part in the Chinese Medical System, much work still needs to be done to ensure greater access for every patient. Especially in rural areas with only a limited number of hospitals preventive measures will be of tremendous help. A broader knowledge of the personal constitution and helpful nutrition will empower everybody to take care of their own health.

[staffbio staffname=”Judy Xu” staffimage=”http://orientalhealth.com.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JAN_6493-e1387943852637.jpg” stafftitle=”Practice Manager
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, CUHK, INI
MBA HKUST” staffemail=”judy.xu@orientalhealth.com.hk”]Judy is the founder of Oriental Health and a practicing TCM nutritionist. [/staffbio]

Better Health Care with Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine

Many people in urban cities often feel uncomfortable in their body, dull and exhausted due to their busy and stressful lifestyles. What’s more, they may have a poor quality of sleep, poor appetite, patchiness on their faces and even constipation.

Under such circumstances, the difference between Chinese and western medicine becomes evidently clear: A health report based on western medicine could conceivably consider these people healthy, as it is what the data shows; Chinese medicine on the other hand would very likely diagnose these people as having a suboptimal health. That is, a state of health which renders the human body on the verge of being sick. More specifically, a western diagnosis fails to address the obvious loss of balance inside the body. In all likeliness these people are lacking in both Qi and Yin energy; to shift from a sub-healthy to a healthy state, they have to replenish this energy inside their bodies.

Natural Balance
This difference in the respective outcomes of western and Chinese diagnostic approaches results from how Chinese medicine understands the human body. Chinese medicine believes that there is a certain balance that exists between a human body and its environment. There are always explicit causes behind the loss of this balance that result in a person getting sick. The balance can be distorted through excess or through suppression of a number of body attributes. The key to regaining balance according to Chinese medicine is to “replenish what is lacking; reduce what is too much”.

The respective Strengths of Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine
Whereas Chinese medicine focuses on “macro—holistic diagnosis”, western medicine focuses on “micro diagnosis” at the level of a particular body part. The objectives of both Chinese and western approaches are to research and explore the (1) objective of regulating human life activities and (2) the methodology of prevention and treatment. Both approaches target the human being and disease. They each have their own medicinal systems due to their respective social, historical and philosophical differences.

The strength of western medicine lies in the accuracy of treatment. For example, after a conclusive diagnosis western medicine can offer effective treatment with a particular drug to address a specific disease. Western surgery is able to target a specific body part. This being said, western medicine is not able to deal with some diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, psoriasis, and colitis amongst others, even though said diseases may be accurately diagnosed. In addition, western medicines are not particularly effective for dealing with menstrual disorder, menstrual pain, functionality pothalamic amenorrhea and postpartum hypogalactia, whilst Chinese medicine offers good solutions through dealing with the root of their respective causes. Treatments in western medicine involving surgery, Chemotherapy, radiation treatment and targeted therapy have their own indications and contraindications. Take radiation treatment and Chemotherapy as examples. Although they effectively kill cancer cells, they also induce toxic side effects.

Chinese medicine, in contrast, is holistic, immunity-strengthening, causing fewer side effects, and has long-term applications. Leveraged correctly these benefits of Chinese medicine can compensate for the weaknesses of western medicine. Arguably, the integration of Chinese and western medicine could offer better long-term healthcare and disease prevention.

Prevention through a healthy Lifestyle
As the old Chinese saying goes: “a good effort on preventing a disease prevents the need to treat the disease”. This saying grasps the spirit of Chinese medicine: having a healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid getting a disease. With a focus on prevention, Chinese Medicine has developed different ways to improve health; by moderating one’s diet, through body constitution diagnosis, through acupuncture, massage, moxibustion, through Qi Gong exercise, through leveraging the seasonal natural powers, and so on. On the other hand, if a person lives unhealthily, his or her will to be healthy will be nothing but an impossible dream.

But how exactly can one leverage Chinese Medicine to avoid getting diseases or to treat disease more effectively? Stay tuned for our next blog!

[staffbio staffname=”Dr Yue-Feng Guo”]Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
PhD Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine
M.D. Chinese Medicine Gynecology, B.D. Chinese Medicine[/staffbio]