What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine or TCM is a system of medicine that developed over empirical traditions and thousands of years of proven results. TCM has many branches of practice, main ones include acupuncture, herbalism, Tui-na or Chinese medical massage, Qi-Gong or movement exercises, and dietary therapy.

More serious and chronic the disease is, the longer the disease has been simmering before the signs and symptoms are apparent. The imbalances can be subtle but if left unchecked, this imbalance could develop into a disease pattern. Chinese medicine practitioners call this TCM pattern of disease. An individual may develop a disease pattern differently depending on his or her own personal constitution such as genetics, lifestyle choices, emotional and environmental stress factors, dietary choices, etc. As a practitioner, we look for clues from the patient's signs and symptoms to pinpoint exactly what the pattern of disease is from TCM point of view. This is the major different between western medicine and TCM point of view - when a patient comes in to treat her migraines for example, a western doctor may prescribe her with prescription medication to subdue the pain, but a TCM practitioner will ask questions related to his or her entire health history to look for clues as what the TCM pattern of disease might be. Therefore, we say that in order to treat the migraine, we go into the "root" cause of the migraine or any illness.

It is important that if you are experiencing a subtle or more chronic illness, such as a migraine that comes and goes over many years, or sleepless nights that may happen once or twice a week, it may be a sign that the body is telling you there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected. Just as our mother Earth can only take so much abuse, neglect and toxicity before the natural balance is disrupted, our body can only take so many years of abuse and neglect. Especially living in NYC, we tend to put our bodies to the ultimate test. We wake up after sleepless nights thinking about meeting our deadlines, grabbing coffee to go, skipping lunch to write another email, and feeding our bodies with fast foods. We live our lives ignoring the alarm bells that our body is trying to tell us and when we are dignosed with serious illnesses, we question ourselves, how did this happen?

As a Chinese medicine practitioner, when I hear more people are diagnosed with serious chronic illnesses such as Crone's disease or MS, I think about how much we push our bodies to perform and how little we nourish back.

The good news is, it is never too late to reverse the negative effects of abuse and neglect. We can start putting intention and put forth our action to nurture our mother Earth and our bodies. Chinese medicine has a strong basis on the philosophy behind Taoism. Based on this philosophy, we should live in accordance to the natural rhythms of our environment in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. Being healthy is not just about being disease free, but also is a combination of thriving body, a clear and conscious mind, and a peaceful spirit. It is when the physical body, emotional mind and spirit are unified in balance that one can be well.

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