by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist
Balance. Energy. Simplicity. Calmness. Oneness. Relaxation. Wholeness. Harmony.
Any of these words could describe the effect the application of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can have on the typical stressed-out American. TCM is rooted in a distinctive, inclusive and systematic theoretical structure and is based on the flow of energy, or chi, throughout the body. Chi flows through the body via pathways which are called meridians. There are a total of twelve meridians in the body which correspond to specific organs, organ systems, or functions. This flow of energy is responsible for controlling the functions of the human mind and body. An imbalance of chi causes illness and a correction to this flow restores the body’s balances, and therefore, health.
TCM is based, in part, on the Taoist belief that humankind is part of the universe and we, and the universe, are interconnected. Chinese medicine teaches us that what happens to one part of the body has an influence on all other parts of the body. Similarly, the mind and body are viewed as being one where the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind. Because Chinese medical philosophy and theory make up the base of TCM, many of these concepts have no true counterpart in Western medicine. TCM is a systematic and holistic approach that links the mind, body, and spirit to identify imbalance in the body.
There are eight “branches” of Chinese medicine. This system of practice coordinates a variety of therapeutic techniques: meditation, qigong or breathing exercises, nutrition, tai chi or mindful movement, Feng shui, herbology, bodywork and acupuncture. A practitioner will systematically move through these branches with you, depending upon your unique needs, in order to restore your health.