FINDING BALANCE WITH TCM
When it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ‒ it doesn’t matter if it’s acupuncture, moxibustion, tui na massage, or consuming Chinese herbal medicine, it all boils down to the vital energy (chi) that circulates through the meridian channels connected to the bodily organs and functions within the body, often plagued by the Six Excesses (六淫) ‒ “Wind” (风), “Cold” (寒), “Heat” (火), “Dampness” (湿), “Dryness” (燥) and “Summer Heat” (暑) ‒ out to cause disharmony within one’s anatomy, and ultimately, extinguish that “vital spark” in you.
TCM is all about putting the chi within oneself back in place, by tweaking the Yin-Yang balance through various treatments that have been around dating back to the Shang dynasty from the 14th to the 11th century BCE ‒ aligned with the teachings of creating harmony by Taoism, in which TCM stems from: in order to achieve harmony with the environment around oneself, one has first to achieve harmony within oneself.
Nowadays, with the thriving medical science from the Western world, TCM has become more of a failsafe medical treatment, even though the broad range of Chinese medicine practices were developed in China based on traditions that are more than 2,000 years old. However, it is still widely practised in mainland China, and even in pockets of the West that continue to grow through time: patients that show many different symptoms without a clear cause, in need of medicinal assistance which Western science has failed to solve, or just anyone who’d like to keep the body from all kinds of illness from the get-go. It has been argued that Western drugs treat the body akin to a mechanic fixing a beat-up car that may break down every once in a while in the near future, whereas TCM goes deeper into the heart ‒ or the soul ‒ of the problem to settle the problem once and for all; think of Western medicine as more patriarchal, a placebo for the “now” sickness that calls for temporal recess before getting back up shortly after with the bodily engines going, whereas TCM is more matriarchal, a kind of motherly tenderness that is always nurturing in the background, often subconsciously, that keeps the spirits and body in ship shape throughout.
To counter the Six Excesses, also often known as the “Six Evils” (六邪), TCM offers treatments through the consumption of Chinese herbs and nutrition, recommended by the practitioners after an in-depth consultation to pinpoint which of the Six Excesses ‒ or the combination of the excesses ‒ that is causing the imbalance of harmony. From the various leaves, roots, stems, seeds and flowers stored behind the iconic apothecary shelves, TCM practitioners will then dispense the concoctions in forms of tea, powder, capsule, liquid and extract.
On the other hand, Chinese nutrition works much like the Westernised dietary, while based on the understandings of the effects of food on the human organism: spicy food encourages the “warming” in the body, whereas sour, bitter and salty food attracts the “cooling”, and the sweet boosts the “strengthening” ‒ and a balanced diet is one that includes all the five tastes mentioned.
Besides that, TCM patients may also opt for acupuncture ‒ the use of needles are inserted into particular pressure points of the skin, subcutaneous tissues and muscles connected by 12 main meridians, to tweak the chi and the balance between Yin and Yang back in place; tui na massage ‒ a form of Asian bodywork therapy that is a combination of massage and acupressure to treat chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions; and moxibustion ‒ a therapy that involves burning moxa (mugwort root) made from dried Artimesia vulgaris (spongy herb) to invigorate the blood, stimulate the flow of chi, and strengthen the kidney Yang, among others.
“THERE MUST BE SOMETHING TO ACUPUNCTURE – YOU NEVER SEE ANY SICK PORCUPINES.” – BOB GODDARD