Eastern philosophy offers us a different perspective on how our bodies work, how disease manifests itself and how our bodies heal themselves.
Used for many centuries in the East, today in the West it is an increasingly popular and respected form of health care. It's used to treat a variety of conditions and is also seen as a way to promote wellness.
The main techniques used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet, body work, energy work and meditation. These techniques have been used for thousands of years to help heal the mind, body and spirit.
Acupuncture involves the insertion and manipulation of very fine needles at specific points along the body to regulate the flow of Qi (energy) and restore the balance of yin and yang. These insertion points run along meridians that relate to organs, such as the spleen and liver, and our abdomen and spine.
The belief is that Qi (energy) flows throughout the body, regulating our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance, and that yin and yang can alter or interrupt that flow. Acupuncture returns the flow to normal.
This is the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, for healing. Moxibustion strengthens the blood, stimulates the flow of qi, and maintains general health. It is applied when warmth is needed in a particular area.
Most Chinese herbal medicines come from plants, although some practitioners may use animals, minerals and fungi. Ask your herbalist first.
Practitioners prescribe a formula, specific to the patient's condition, based on a diagnosis that normally involves an in-depth interview, examination of the pulse and condition of the tongue and the smell of the breath.
This massage method involves the use of finger pressure on acupuncture points (rather than using needles) to stimulate the flow and circulation of Qi through the meridians.
A flame heats the air in a small cup that is then quickly applied to an area of the body. As the air inside the cup cools its volume decreases to create suction on the area that stimulates circulation and returns oxygenated blood to the area, allowing energy to flow again.
Increasingly popular, Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that uses slow, graceful movements and breathing techniques to bring a connection between mind and body. It's believed to help improve immunity, blood pressure, physical stability and protection from osteoporosis.
There are two main types of Qi Gong practice: internal and external. Internal Qi Gong is a self-directed technique that uses sound, movement and meditation to help maintain good health and disease prevention. You do not have to do it with a Master instructor present.
External Qi Gong, on the other hand, is performed by a Master using their hands on a patient with the aim of projecting Qi for the purpose of healing.
Meditation has been scientifically shown to relax our body and physically change brain chemistry when practised consistently. The relaxation and increased ability to focus also allows you to change habits, actions and reactions, and ideas that negatively affect our health and mind.