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What is TCM?

By Diane Sheppard, Ph.D, L.Ac.

tcmTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can resolve many health issues. Reflecting Chinese insight and ingenuity, it has been used effectively and without harmful side effects for thousands of years to cure ailments, support healing, increase energy and promote general well- being.

TCM is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced ‘chea’), which literally means “breath” or “air” and is thought of as life force (or energy) inherent in all things. In TCM, your body is seen as an integrated whole; your mind, emotions, spirit, and physical body forming a complex interrelated system that is powered by Qi. The balance of negative and positive forms (Yin and Yang) of Qi in the body is essential for good health, while imbalance can cause disease. It is this balance that TCM seeks to augment and restore.

TCM understands that your body has a natural regenerative capacity. TCM practitioners balance your Qi to allow this self-healing ability to function, giving your body the support it needs to regain its health.

To accomplish this, TCM uses a variety of natural healing methods. Chief among these is acupuncture, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Very fine needles are inserted along meridians, energy pathways in the body, to tonify or sedate as required. Acupuncture also has direct effects on blood chemistry with the ability to alleviate pain, often nearly immediately. Needles used may be as few as four, or as many as fifty, depending on the condition, and may be enhanced with microcurrents. Ear acupuncture has been found to be especially useful for quick relief of pain.

Another important (and ancient) component of TCM is herbal therapy. The essential properties of literally hundreds of herbs and their actions on the body-mind-spirit have been identified and classified. A wide range of objects fall into the category of TCM: herbs, stones, bones, insects, animal parts, as well as, flowers, stems, seeds, bark and roots.

A TCM formula combines herbs in a way that makes them more powerful than the sum of the individual parts, with each herb performing a specific task within the body to achieve the objective of the formula as a whole. Herbal formulas can be supplied as raw herbs, concentrated powders, capsules and teas.

When treating a patient, TCM also factors in lifestyle choices, exercise, food and diet, as well as the season of year, geographical location, age, genetics, and the overall condition of your body. This makes it a truly comprehensive approach to health.

Diane Sheppard is a licensed acupuncturist with a Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine. She is a practitioner at Eisenhower Wellness Institute and owner of AcQPoint Wellness Center in La Quinta. 760-775-7900 www.AcQPoint.com

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