TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) GUIDE
What modalities in TCM does Chi Wellness Clinic offer?
Over 5,000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has evolved complex methods of
diagnosis and treatment tailored to the individual's subtle patterns of disharmony.
This allows it to not only treat fully manifest diseases, but also to assist in maintaining
health and balance (i.e. wellness) to prevent illnesses from occurring. There are
six major modalities in TCM:
As a comprehensive TCM - Acupuncture center in Boston and Waltham, Massachusetts, Chi Wellness Clinic
offers services in all six modalities and their optimal combinations.
- Acupuncture: Needle on an acupoint
- Massage therapy: Tuina (also called Anmo)
- Moxibustion: Burning an herbal stick placed above an acupoint
- Cupping: Vacuum suction cups on the skin (near acupoints)
- Herbs: Herbal Medicine (fighting diseases), Dietary Supplements (seasonal adjustment)
- Therapeutic exercises: Tai Chi, Qi Gong and many others
involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific points on the body.
There are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body (though only approximately 350 acupoints
are commonly used), which are connected by 20 meridians (channels and collaterals).
Most people feel only a minimal amount of pain as the needles are inserted. When
practiced by a licensed practitioner, acupuncture is extremely
safe and does no harm. It can treat many health conditions, and also bring total
relaxation to the mind and body.
An acupuncture session usually takes 30-45 minutes. Patients will need a thorough diagnosis
first. Most patients are treated once a week;some are treated up to three times per week.
We expect patients to feel some relief of symptoms after a couple of sessions. Due to many
variables, it is difficult to predict how long it will take for acupuncture to cure a particular
is an adhesive patch with a metal pellet, which can stimulate an acupuncture point
without penetrating the skin. Acupatch is effective in its own right. It acts more slowly
than acupuncture and is more effective for shallow acupoints, such as on the ear.
The advantage of acupatch is that patients can massage those acupoints themselves,
thus relieving certain symptoms on demand. We usually use acupatch in conjunction with acupuncture.
For patients who do not like needles, acupatches may be used without acupuncture.
Acupatch is effective for headaches, pain relief, weight issues and various addictions
(smoking, drinking, substance abuse). An acupatch session takes about 10-20 minutes.
Patients need to visit the clinic twice a week.
is carried out by placing an oxygen-depleted glass cup on the skin. The vacuum,
which is created by a burning taper placed briefly inside the cup prior to its placement
on the skin, stimulates the flow of Chi and blood in the cupping area. Cupping therapy can
be performed as an alternative to acupuncture. The cups are placed over acupuncture points, but
they treat a larger area of the body. At Chi Wellness, cupping is usually used in junction with
massage or acupuncture as needed. A cupping session takes about 20-30 minutes.
formulas consist of a combination of herbs. There are 150,000 formulas recorded in
Chinese medicine. Herbalists prescribe formulas specifically tailored for a particular patient
and a particular medical manifestation of a condition. Here, Chinese herbal medicine has an
advantage over other types of herbal treatments. Herbal remedies are effective for many health conditions
and have few side effects when prescribed by qualified practitioners.
Patients will need a thorough diagnosis before being given a prescription (a combination of of 5-20 herbs).
A prescription is used for 1-2 weeks before patients are reevaluated. Chi Wellness is still
in the process of building a pharmacy of 200 kinds of herbal extract powders. Meanwhile,
we provide our patients with herbs in raw forms (requiring brewing) or powder forms through
other quality herbal pharmacies in Boston.
therapy is called Tuina (meaning push and pull) in China. The Tuina therapist manipulates
the energy in the body by kneading the points along the Chi meridians. There are four main
schools of Tuina, encompassing about twenty techniques. One is Acupressure, which relies on fingers
to stimulate acupoints. Tuina is used for relief of pain, headache, injuries, stress, insomnia,
poor digestion and irritable bowel syndrome. During a Tuina session, especially those of one hour or
longer, patients get into a state of tranquility and total relaxation. Patients feel rested
and yet energized afterwards. The therapeutic effects of Tuina often last for days and up to a week.
Our form of massage is deep, strong and precise. During the first visit, we recommend customers
with chronic aches and pains to have a whole body massage, which takes approximately one hour.
In the first session, our therapist will survey and diagnose sore points throughout the body,
systematically relieving pain. Our treatment will not only treat pain being felt at the moment,
but also expose and treat hidden pain. The latter may cause future injuries and health complications
if not treated properly. It is particularly effective to combine therapeutic Tuina with acupuncture
therapies. During, or shortly after the session, customers may experience some soreness. This should
not be cause for alarm or require treatment with medications.
Reflexology is a form of therapeutic massage in Tuina that is applied to the feet or the`
head. According to Chinese medicine, the feet or head reflect health conditions of
various parts of the body. Reflexology massage can promote overall wellness,
relieve stress, headaches, strains and pains. Reflexology massage is strong, but
more refined than whole body massage. Patients feel light and energized
Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese exercise, combines martial arts with Chi-Gong (or Qigong) breathing
techniques. Tai Chi is a serious yet gentle workout that brings a unique state of tranquility.
Tai Chi's therapeutic benefits include: stress release, relaxation of mind and body, relief of
aches and pains, and improvement of strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Tai Chi exercise requires regular practice. Average students may expect to gain
therapeutic benefits after 3 to 12 months of practice.
How has TCM evolved over time?
The theories and practices of TCM have been developed, enriched and expanded mainly
from practices begun more than 5,000 years ago. The well-known book Huang Di Canon of Internal
Medicine, extensively summarized and systematized the ancestors' experiences
of treatments and theories of medicine. It discusses anatomy, physiology, the pathology of the human
body, and offers methods of diagnosis, treatments and prevention of disease.
After the Qin and Han dynasties, (221 B.C. - 220 A.D.), the book, The Herbal was handed down
through the ages. It is the earliest extant classic on materia medica and is the summary of
pharmaceutical knowledge known before the Han dynasty. In the Jin Dynasty (21 - 282 A.D.),
the comprehensive book of acupuncture and moxibustion was compiled on the basis of individual
works by various physicians.
In the Eastern Han Dynasty (300 A.D.), the Treatise on Febrile Disease and Miscellaneous
Disease was published. This book established Chinese medicine's theoretical system and
therapeutic principle, diagnosis and treatment based on an overall analysis of signs and
symptoms. It established a foundation for the development of comprehensive clinical medicine.
In 610 A.D., the book General Treatise on Cause and Symptoms of Diseases, was compiled.
It is the earliest extant classic on etiology and syndrome. It contains detailed and
precise descriptions of the etiology and pathogenesis of certain diseases, of internal medicine,
surgery, gynecology, pediatrics and the five sense organs.
In approximately the 11th century A.D., Chinese Medicine began to use the variation method
to prevent small pox, and thus pioneering the theory of immunology.
By the middle of the 17th century, A.D., during the Qing Dynasty, clinical experiences in
treating epidemic febrile disease, both infectious and noninfectious diseases, had been vastly
accumulated in TCM.
In the past 100 years, with the widespread use of Western Medicine in China, a new direction
has arisen in which TCM and Western Medicine are developing side by side. Many medical workers
realize that both TCM and Western Medicine have their own merits and shortcomings. In modern times,
TCM and Western medicine, have worked independently, but cooperatively in China.
Since 1972 TCM has become increasingly accepted and utilized by the American public. Since 2000,
the task of integrating and refining traditional Chinese Medicine to meet the needs of American
consumers has begun in the U.S. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and private institutions,
such as Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), have been sponsoring large-scale clinical trials of
How does TCM view health and disease?
According to Chinese Taoist philosophy, all of creation is born from the marriage of two polar
principles, Yin and Yang (cold and hot). Harmony of this union means health, while disharmony
leads to disease. The strategy of traditional Chinese medicine is to restore harmony.
The human body is comprised of Chi (or called Qi, pronounced chee) and Blood. Chi is the energy force
that gives us our capacity to move, think, feel, and work. Blood is the material foundation out of
which we create bones, nerves, skin, muscles, and organs. The body is divided into five functional
systems known as Organ Networks. These Networks govern particular tissues, mental faculties, and
physical activities by regulating and preserving Chi and Blood.
Chi and Blood circulate within a web of pathways called channels (Chi meridians, blood vessels),
that link together all parts of the organism. We are healthy when adequate Chi and Blood flow
smoothly. Symptoms as varied as joint pain, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high
blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, and the common cold occur when circulation is disrupted.
All illness is understood as a consequence of either a depletion or a congestion of Chi and Blood.
Depletion of Chi leads to weakness, lethargy, frequent illness, poor digestion, and inadequate
blood flow. Congestion results in aches, tension, tenderness, pain, a distended abdomen, irritability,
How does TCM diagnose a disease?
The principle of TCM diagnosis is that diseases must be observed by taking a view of the human body as a whole.
Local pathological changes may affect the whole body and pathological changes of the body may, in turn,
be reflected in certain parts.
There are four methods in TCM diagnosis: inquiry (asking), observation (viewing), auscultation
(smelling), and palpation (feeling the pulse). Practitioners assess a person's health by feeling the
pulse at each wrist and by observing the color, odor, and form of the face, tongue, and body.
This information is interpreted in the context of a patient's present and past complaints, work and
living habits, physical environment, family health history and emotional life.
For example, if a man has red eyes, a yellow coating on his tongue, and a bounding pulse, this
indicates Heat and congested Chi. He may be complaining of stomach pain, migraine, nausea, fever
or bronchitis. If a woman has pale lips, brittle hair, a thin pulse, and dry tongue, this suggests
deficiency of Blood and Moisture, which undermines the function of the Liver, Heart, and Spleen.
Her complaints may include that she feels tense, anxious, and irritable, has been unable to conceive
and has trouble with chronic fatigue, depression or insomnia. Diagnosis is a way of understanding
a problem within the categories of Chinese medicine.
How does TCM treat a health condition?
The goal of treatment is to adjust and harmonize Yin and Yang. This is achieved by regulating the
Chi and Blood in the Organ Networks: weak organs are tonified, congested channels are opened,
excess is dispersed, tightness is softened, agitation is calmed, heat is cooled, cold is warmed,
dryness is moistened and dampness is drained.
Treatment may incorporate acupuncture, herbal remedies, die, massage and exercise. Duration of
treatment depends on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present.
Treatments may be scheduled as often as three times a week or as little as twice a month.
Response varies - some need only a few sessions, while others need sustained care to reverse
entrenched patterns established over time. As symptoms improve, fewer visits are required.
Individual progress is the yardstick.
How do Western Medicine and TCM differ?
Because Chinese medicine views the mind and body as ecosystems in miniature, it seeks to improve
our capacity to balance and renew our intrinsic resources. Chinese medicine can minimize the
erosion of our "soil" by enriching it, maximizing the flow of nutrients by increasing circulation
and helping to prevent bottlenecks that obstruct vital movement.
Often, Western medicine intervenes only after crises arise. Chinese medicine anticipates
problems by sustaining our interior harmony. By correcting depletion and stagnation at earlier stages,
greater problems are avoided in the future.
Sometimes Western medicine has little to offer for nagging chronic conditions that Chinese
medicine can help. One is not a substitute for the other. They are often complementary.
Whereas Western medicine may heroically rescue us from acute life threatening illness,
Chinese medicine can protect and preserve our day to day health.
In modern China, TCM is both taught and practiced alongside Western medicine.
All of the major hospitals have Western and traditional Chinese departments.
Patients are often referred from one department to the other. Thus, Chinese patients
are able to receive the best that each system has to offer, with combined Chinese herbal
and Western drug therapy in serious cases. This has proven to be an extremely successful
approach. Remarkable results have been achieved in such areas as: cancer care, recovery from stroke,
arthritis, skin diseases, heart disease, chronic degenerative diseases, post operative care, etc.
At Chi Wellness Clinic, we strive to integrate the most effective TCM therapies into
conventional healthcare and provide you with the best treatment a combination both medical systems has to offer.
Copyright 2005 Chi Wellness Corp. All rights Reserved.
Chi Wellness is a Registered Trademark (TM).
Provider of Acupuncture, Herb, Massage & Tai-Chi in Massachusetts