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Alternative and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Basic Primer

  • Written by SUBMITTED by MELANIE KRUEGER, omd, eamp, l.ac., LMP and LILITY deVEIGH, OMD, L.Ac., LMP, Shidoshiho

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the oldest, continually practiced, literate, secular medicine in practice today. It provides therapy for every aspect of healthcare from pre-natal through geriatric care, with specialties in every department in the hospitals of China, where Western and TCM doctors work in an integrated system.

History shows us that TCM grew out of massage and pressure techniques that became acupressure and finally the tui-na therapeutic massage and adjustment system. In the Stone Age, sharpened stones were used to press on the body, and when needles were made, they were used on what have become acupuncture points.

TCM primarily uses acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui-na therapeutic bodywork and qi gong energetic therapy. Generally, acupuncture is the first thing people think of when asked about TCM. While important, TCM was developed to be utilized collectively, as determined by the patient’s differentiation at the time of the therapy. Some cases may need acupuncture, while others may not.

But, if some conditions need one or another modality, while others don’t, how do you know what to use? TCM uses several differentiation systems, each with its particular strengths and focus to determine a treatment plan. While Five Element theory is an important aspect of Asian medicine, the full range of differentiation systems must be used in clinical practice. These would include Yin Yang, Eight Principle, Zong Fu and Four Level, to name a few.

If needed, a fully trained Chinese doctor will formulate an herbal formula that is specifically balanced for the patient’s needs. In a custom blended formula, the effectiveness can be maximized and easily modified or changed as the condition improves.

Tui-na provides everything from very shallow to the deepest tissue massage and structural alignment. This is the bodyworking that has been used in the hospitals of Asia for the last 2,000-plus years, as well as Europe and Russia today. Perhaps what sets it apart from Western massage systems are specific protocols that have been successfully used for thousands of years.

These are set patterns of techniques applied in specific sequences of acu-points for a predetermined time to treat specific medical conditions. There are separate protocols for frozen shoulder, stiff neck, cervical spondylosis, lumbar intervertebral disc protrusion, acute or chronic lumbar sprain, sciatica, piriformis muscle syndrome, tennis and golfer’s elbow, headache, insomnia, facial paralysis, digestive issues, chronic diarrhea and dysmenorrhea, to name but a few. Additionally, the separate specialty of pediatric tui-na has protocols to treat common baby and childhood conditions.
Finally, qi (chi) gong is the energy therapy used to maintain all qi levels at maximum. As an exercise, it allows one to enhance their personal qi to avoid falling into one of the qi deficiency syndromes that cause ill health. On the highest level, it allows the qi gong master to use their personal qi to activate the acu-points directly, without the use of needles. It’s also used to remove energetic organisms that feed off the qi of our bodies and lead to organ deficiencies, ill health and not feeling “quite right.”

When the full scope of Chinese medicine is utilized, its full effectiveness is felt because the process gently changes the body so it works in harmony with itself.

Melanie Krueger and Lilith deVeigh are doctors of traditional Chinese medicine. Melanie’s Alternative Medical Center, 17924 140th Avenue NE, Suite 210, Woodinville. www.melanie-tcm.com.

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