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TCM, of which Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are the main components, has developed over a period of several thousand years. Written records date back as far as 1324 BC.
TCM is now finding its place in Western society and its popularity is growing rapidly. It can be used as a concurrent or alternative therapy for treating many modern-day illnesses.
TCM emphasizes harmony between internal organs and external conditions, known as the balance of yin and yang. The concept of yin and yang has been used in a technical sense for more than 2000 years. While the original means related to the shady and sunny sides of a mountain, yin and yang are now emblems of harmony and balance.
A positive, harmonious feeling of wellness, which indicates yin and yang in balance, is the Chinese ideal of good health.
Disease is viewed as a disorder in the body, and treatment is directed towards properly balancing yin and yang. This allows Chinese medicine to successfully treat many chronic and debilitating conditions.
Diagnosis is the bridge between theory and treatment. Since both theory and treatment are very different from their Western counterparts, it is only natural that the technique of diagnosis would also differ.
The Chinese doctor aims at constructing a view of the patient’s body as a whole. These patterns are determined by looking, listening, asking and palpation. All the information needed by a Chinese doctor in diagnosing disease and determining treatment is gauged from these four activities.
Herbal remedies can be specifically formulated to meet the needs of each individual, depending on age, gender and physical and emotional condition. Acupunture is an integral part of treatment.
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What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the oldest system of medicine in use today. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated over five thousand years. Acupuncture can be delivered through needles, laser, massage and moxibustion (application of heat) to stimulate body response. Experience has shown that the most effective delivery system is through the insertion of very fine needles into the body.
How Does It Work?
The way acupuncture works has not been fully explained in scientific terms but research is continuous and centers on the effects that appear to be induced by at least three body reactions – local tissue reactions, neurological stimulation and hormone regulation, e.g. system enhancement, sedation to benefit insomnia and anxiety, psycho-active response to benefit some central nervous system disorders and some psychiatric conditions, homeostatic regulation to held abnormal body functions return to normal and sensory and motor recovery to aid return of function.
Scientific explanations are currently not considered adequate to justify this form of treatment in most clinical situations but some Australian health institutions have recently initiated trials in TCM, of which acupuncture is a vital component.
Which Acupuncture Points Are Used?
A traditional acupuncturist determines the appropriate treatment following a diagnosis that includes questions relating to diet, appetite, sleep, bowel function, emotional stress and menstrual flow.
Examination of the tongue and feeling the pulses in both wrists are also diagnostic aids. Based on the diagnosis, appropriate acupuncture points are selected to enhance to “Qi” (pronounced Chee) or energy in the body, which can be compared to electrical energy. Qi flows through the body on pathways called meridians.
In a healthy person the Qi flow is adequate and in balance. When this flow is inadequate or is disturbed, disease follows.
Like a musician, the skilled acupuncturist can tune the body so it is in rhythm and vitality is restored.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
Not for most people – the sensation is very slight and many patients don’t feel needles being inserted and often sleep through their treatment.
Is It Safe?
Yes, when performed by a well qualified practitioner so always ensure that the acupuncturist is well qualified. Modern acupuncturists use once-only disposable needles to prevent infection. It can be safely used on everyone, including children. There is no upper age limit but pregnant women should inform their practitioner so that precautions can be taken in choice of points.
It can be used in conjunction with other medical care and acupuncturists often work closely with other health care providers in joint management of patients.
How Many Treatments Needed?
That depends on the nature and severity of the condition. Some acute complaints respond within a couple of treatments while long term conditions commonly require five to fifteen treatments. Even in these circumstances, there is usually an improvement within the first couple of treatments.
Are There Side Effects?
Generally no, but in some people initially symptoms may worsen before the onset of very rapid improvement.
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TCM TREATMENT FOR INFERTILITY AND SUPPORT FOR PATIENTS UNDERGOING IVF
China has an infertility rate of less than 3%, which is much lower than that in Western countries (approximately 20%). Why is this so? It’s not that Chinese have fewer problems with fertility than Western people; it is that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), of which Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are the main components, provides a more effective approach to address the problem than the approach taken in the West.
Traditional Chinese medicine has a history of over 5000 years. The treatment of infertility with Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture dates back over 2000 years. These ancient, time-tested techniques improve fertility rates and support woman’s whole body, unlocking unlimited potential for health, healing and childbearing.
What Causes Infertility?
Infertility is caused by imbalance, or deficiency, or stagnation of Qi (‘chee’, also called Life Energy) and blood in one or more of the organ systems. When Qi and blood are circulating freely throughout the body, every cell, tissue, and organ is properly nourished and functioning well, resulting in good health and increased fertility.
Infertility mainly results from malfunction in the following three organ systems.
Kidney system: In Chinese medicine the kidneys are viewed as the organs that store the procreative energy. This energy fuels our will to live and governs the major cycles in our life – puberty and menopause. It gives women the ability to menstruate, conceive and give birth. It determines the quality and quantity of the eggs and sperm and nourishes a growing fetus. If kidney deficiency occurs, the reproductive energy is inadequate and infertility may be a result.
Spleen system: An adequate blood supply is required by a woman’s body to sustain a normal menstrual cycle, a growing fetus, and a healthy pregnancy. A disharmony within the Spleen system can result in an inadequate blood supply and imbalance of blood, thus increasing the likelihood of infertility.
Liver system: In Chinese medicine our health depends on the smooth, uninterrupted flow of energy (Qi) and blood throughout our body. This nourishes cells and organs, allowing for the regularity and harmony needed to release and balance the hormones required for reproductive health. The Liver is in charge of facilitating the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Disruption to this process is commonly referred to as liver Qi stagnation, which increases the chance of infertility.
Factors affecting or weakening the above organ systems may lead to infertility. The following are the most common influencing factors:
How Does TCM Work?
Infertility is a very complicated condition, and either or both partners may have contributing factors. Statistics show that about 30% of infertility is caused by male factors, such as low sperm count, slow sperm mobility, and sperm abnormalities. Therefore, Chinese medicine doctors often treat both the male and female partners for infertility.
In Chinese medicine patients are treated holistically and as individuals, with the aim of restoring the body balance and natural potential for reproduction.
TCM treatment for infertility is generally a combination of Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and food therapy. TCM can improve infertility in several ways:
Traditional Chinese medicine provides a safe, effective, drug-free and natural approach to treating infertility and enjoying a healthy pregnancy.
TCM Support for Patients Undergoing IVF
Despite the fact that technologies in conventional medicine, such as IVF, can perform near miracles for some childless couples, infertility remains a very common problem in the Western countries. The causes of infertility in most cases are not clear, or are unexplained. IVF success rate is approximately 20%. You may ask, why is the IVF success rate is so low?
Successful fertility is not merely to bring eggs and sperm together. The quality of eggs and sperm plays a key role in the process. Equally important is the process of planting and carrying these fertilized eggs. In Chinese medicine the focus is placed on preparing both the female and male body both physically and mentally, to ensure quality embryos are produced from quality eggs and sperm. In particular, the female body needs to be capable of carrying the embryos. Without healthy bodies, the failure of the fertilized eggs to survive, or the rejection of the embryo by the female body may result.
Studies show that IVF success rate can be increased significantly if performed in conjunction with acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment throughout the IVF process. Medical imaging has shown that after acupuncture, blood flow to the uterus and ovaries increases. The follicles increase in number and the uterine lining becomes thicker. Furthermore, patients will experience less side effects from the drugs used during the IVF procedure.
The benefit of acupuncture when used alongside IVF is not affected by age, meaning that all age groups show an increase in IVF success rate when acupuncture is utilised.
TCM and IVF might come from opposite sides of the medical fence, but there is growing interest in combining the two in order to improve fertility.
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TCM TREATMENT FOR CANCERS AND SUPPORT FOR PATIENTS UNDERGOING CHEMO AND RADIOTHERAPY
Cancer remains one of the least understood and most researched diseases of Western medicine.
In classic Chinese medicine, there is no specific concept of cancer, though there is of tumors. Many nutritive tonics and herbal medicines were developed to alleviate pain and prolong survival by strengthening the body's life forces and arresting tumor progression.
Chinese doctors believe the causes of cancer are multiple, including toxins and other environmental factors, called "external causes," as well as "internal causes" such as emotional stress, bad eating habits, accumulated wastes from food and damaged organs. Two main factors are stagnant blood and a blockage or accumulation of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), the vital energy said to circulate along the meridians, or pathways, linking all parts of the body.
Illness is an energy imbalance, an excess or deficiency of the body's elemental energies. According to the ancient Chinese, Qi, the life force, controls the body's workings as it travels along the meridians, completing an energy cycle every twenty-four hours. A person is healthy when there is a balanced, sufficient flow of Qi, which keeps the blood and body fluids circulating and fights disease. But if the circulation of Qi is blocked for any reason or becomes excessive or deficient, pain and disease can result. The flow of Qi may be disrupted by an imbalanced diet or lifestyle, overwork, stress, repressed or excessive emotions, or lack of exercise. Imbalances in Yin and Yang - complementary forces in dynamic flux - also disturb the normal, smooth flow of Qi.
Cancer, like all other diseases, is regarded as a manifestation of an underlying imbalance. The tumor is the "uppermost branch," not the "root," of the illness. Each patient may have a different imbalance causing what outwardly looks like the same type of cancer. Each person is unique, so the Chinese medicine doctor attempts to identify the exact individual pattern of excess, deficiency, or blockage that led to the disease. The doctor treats the imbalance rather than a condition known as "stomach cancer," or "breast cancer," or so on. The prescribed treatment will vary from one patient to the next, depending on the specific imbalances.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that as long as your own healing ability is not completely destroyed, your body can be restored to balance and harmony and can therefore control or stop the progression of the conditions leading to cancer.
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FACIAL REJUVENATION WITH TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
Facial rejuvenation with traditional Chinese medicine enjoys a long history, dating back to some 3000 years ago. Chinese have benefited from the ancient, time-tested beauty techniques since, and now so do the people in the West.
You may ask yourself why people choose TCM over modern Western techniques for facial rejuvenation. There is certainly no shortage of the Western techniques. For instance, besides commercial cosmetic products, there are non-surgical procedures, such as chemical peels, collagen injection, fillers, Botox injection, laser resurfacing and microdermabrasion, and surgical treatments, such as micro suction, blepharoplasty and the ever-popular facelifts. But, the thing that all the modern techniques have in common is that they all focus only on the symptoms – the accrual facial problems, and as a result the problems will reoccur sometime down the track.
Traditional Chinese medicine takes an entirely different approach to facial rejuvenation. According to the TCM philosophy, one’s health and beauty are intertwined. Inner health is the source of beauty, and the face reflects the state of the inner health. The facial problems, such as wrinkles, eye bags, dark eye circles and discoloration, are not only blemishes but also indications of imbalance of yin and yang in your body. Therefore, it is only natural that when treating the facial problems, Chinese medicine doctors focus on balancing your body by treating the underlying conditions that lead to the symptoms, rejuvenising your face from inside out - naturally.
Conditions Affecting Facial Health
Internal Conditions: In TCM the whole body is seen as an integrated system. Different organs and parts of the body are interrelated and influenced each other. So, seemingly distant organs can have an important impact on facial beauty, as follows:
The Heart - In TCM, the Heart controls not only the blood but also the emotions. The Heart must be dealt with when treating wrinkles as anxiety, stress, anger and frustration are all the contributing factors. Disharmony in the Heart system can cause facial swelling and puffiness. Disturbed Heart system can affect the quality of sleep, leading to dark eye circles and puffy eyes.
The Lungs - The Lung system controls respiration and affects the flow of Qi through the whole body. Imbalance in the Lung system can cause undernourished skin, resulting in dryness, wrinkles and a withered-looking complexion.
The Liver - The Liver system is the key to the anti-wrinkle efforts. It plays a major role in facilitating the smooth flow of Qi and blood through the body including the face. Disruption to the Liver system can lead to wrinkles, dark spots and a dusty-looking complexion.
The Spleen - The Spleen dominates the function of converting food into Qi and blood. The face and body health ultimately depends on and responds to what is digested and absorbed in addition to the type and amount of food ingested. Spleen Qi deficiency will cause the skin undernourished and subsequent loss of skin tone, sagging and looseness.
The Kidneys - The Kidney system regulates the fluid balance in your body in many ways, which is important for facial health. Kidney deficiency can result in dark eye circles, age spots, and puffiness around the eyes. When kidney essence is insufficient, aging is accelerated, leading to wrinkle formation.
External Conditions: Environmental conditions have a great impact on facial health. The conditions that adversely affect facial beauty are: wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness and fire, which are called “Six Evils”. The potential damage to facial skin from these conditions is obvious. For example, heat may lead to swelling, redness and dryness due to the fluids being “burnt off”.
Emotions: Emotion has significant influence on your facial health, in particular, on the formation of wrinkles. The major emotions are: anger, over-joy, worry, pensiveness, sadness, fear and shock, which are called “Seven Emotions”.
What Does TCM Facial Rejuvenation Involve?
TCM facial rejuvenation normally involves a combination of Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and food therapy. The TCM treatments are directed towards restoring the balance of yin and yang and smooth circulation of Qi and blood in your body. Free flow of Qi and blood ensures that every cell, tissue, and organ are properly nourished, leading to a good health and consequently a rejuvenised face.
Chinese herbal medicine: Chinese herbal medicine includes not only plants but also minerals and some animal parts. They are a rich and potent source of healing energy. Chinese herbal medicine is not applied to treat the symptoms directly. Instead, it is used to balance and regulate yin and yang and enhance the body’s natural healing power, eliminating the conditions that lead to the complexion problems.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture treatment for facial rejuvenation is based on the theory of the channel or meridian system. There are 12 major and 365 sub channels, through which Qi flows. All the channels converge at the neck and then up to the head and face. Blockage to the flow of Qi, i.e. Qi stagnant, in the certain channels will cause facial problems. Acupuncture at the specific points can unblock the channels and reactivate the flow of the life energy, leading to a healthy complexion.
Food Therapy: Food therapy is used hand-in-hand with Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. In addition to their nutritional value, some foods have therapeutic effects, enhancing the yin and yang balance and smooth flow of Qi in the body. But, their effects are gradual. Like Chinese herbs, food therapy is used according to the conditions of individual body.
The benefits from the above modalities may include:
- Improved muscle tone and firmness of the face and neck,
- Improved natural collagen production,
- Reduced puffiness and bags under the eyes,
- Reduced fine lines and wrinkles,
- Reduced sagging jowls and double chin,
- Lifted drooping eyelids,
- Improved facial colour,
- Improved jaw definition,
- Increased skin elasticity and moisture.
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I was awarded the Bachelor Degree of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 1982 after 5 year studies of TCM at Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China. After completing my degree, I worked at the Shenyang Research Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since moving to Australia in 1987, I have continued to practice traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. My clinic is now at 56 Smith Street Charlestown NSW 2290.
I am a registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist with Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA)
I am a member of Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS), and Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Society of Australia (FCMA).
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