Traditional medicine in China and other parts of Asia have been around for thousands of years.Thousands! Without a doubt, the most well-known treatment method from traditional Asian medicines is acupuncture, but there are other treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms and rebalance your body.
What is Qi?
Qi is a word that is used to describe the combination of energy and information that flows through your body along specific meridians. When your body is in balance, the Qi flows smoothly and doesn’t get stuck anywhere, but when it is out of balance, the Qi can become blocked, leading to pain, irritability, and other symptoms of illness or imbalance. In Asian medicine, there are several techniques that work with Qi, to move if when it’s stuck, to help release it if there is too much, and to help direct it to areas where there isn’t enough of it. It’s all about balance, and these techniques work well to bring your Qi – and your body – back into balance.
Traditional Asian Medicine Techniques
Naturopathic doctors get extensive training in traditional Asian medicine, and are able to offer some of these additional therapies as part of your treatment plan.
Acupuncture is an ancient Asian medicine technique that involves placing very fine needles into specific points along the meridians that Qi flows through. It works very well to reduce pain and to help balance your body, and because the needles are so fine, it allows for very specific placement of needles, meaning the perfect points to suit your condition are used. Most people enjoy and even look forward to their acupuncture treatments, and say they feel more relaxed and balanced almost immediately.
Cupping is an ancient treatment in traditional Asian medicines that uses small glass jars as tiny vacuums to stimulate blood and energy flow to specific parts of your body. Cupping is often used on your back to alleviate back pain or reduce stress. It feels great and patients love it! It’s like a super fast, very deep tissue massage.
Sometimes the cups are left in place for 5-10 minutes, while other times oil is used to help slide the cups up and down along your TCM meridians to help move the Qi through the meridians. In Asian medicine, stuck Qi is one of the main causes of pain, and getting in moving with a vigorous method like cupping is great for decreasing pain. Both ways will leave bruises on your back for a few days, so if you’re planning a fancy event, it might be best to avoid the treatment until after you’re done.
Moxibustion, or moxa for short, is when herbs are burned overtop of acupuncture points or meridians, with or without needles in place. It’s usually mugwort that is burned, and the heat from the smouldering herbs creates a warming effect over the acupuncture points. It’s thoroughly relaxing and helps balance your body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), patterns of disease or disharmony are described by imbalances between opposing forces: Yin & Yang, Hot & Cold, Excess & Deficiency. Moxibustion is used for patterns that are on the Cold and Deficient ends of the spectrum. Moxa might be great addition for your acupuncture treatments if you:
- Feel cold all the time,
- Have pain that feels better with heat,
- You feel like you just can’t get enough warm liquids.
Make sure to ask your ND to see if moxibustion the right thing for you.
Herbs in traditional Asian medicine are usually blends of many different medicinal plants (and sometimes sea creatures!); the formulas have been around for thousands of years, and naturopathic doctors choose specific formulas for you depending on your pattern of disease or disharmony. Some herbs are used to help move Qi that is stuck, some are used to help build strength in weakened organs, while others are used to help release excess heat or cold from the body.
There are some jobs that acupuncture on its own just isn’t strong enough for, especially if you are weak or deficient! In these cases, naturopathic doctors have training in selecting the right herbal formula for you that will work with the acupuncture and everything else you’re doing to be healthy, and get you feeling balanced! It’s something that makes us smile.
Tongue & pulse diagnosis
Tongue and pulse diagnosis is a standard part of any acupuncture intake. Patients are often surprised by how much we know about them just by glancing at their tongues! For example, if the edges of your tongue are very red, you might have been feeling more angry lately. Or if the tip of your tongue is bright red, you might have been having a hard time getting to sleep.
The tongue has a wealth of information and can quickly help us diagnose which meridians are out of balance in your condition. Once we know which meridians are out of balance, we can choose the right techniques to bring them back into balance and resolve your condition.
Your pulse is another way that naturopathic doctors can determine which meridians are out of balance and which Asian medicine treatments will work best for you. Each meridian has a corresponding location on your wrist, and by feeling the pulse for it’s strength, depth, and quality, we can diagnose which meridians need balancing, and decide which Asian medicine techniques will work best in your case.
We’re real excited to show what traditional Asian medicines can offer you! Book an appointment with us so we can!