With the natural remedies craze that is happening all over the world now, Traditional Chinese Medicine has taken a proud seat, front and center, in the quest for useful alternative methods of treating one’s medical ailments. Westerners and Easterners alike are being treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners of Chinese and even western origins. That is because of the fact that it works. Something that has been used by literally millions of people, for literally thousands of years is something you can trust with a fair amount of confidence.
Chinese herbal medicine is the third oldest known in the world and the first recorded use of herbs and natural medicaments, in the form of a discussion between the Yellow Emperor and his doctor, which is said to have been written by the doctor and scribes of the Yellow Emperor around 2700 BC. (Although this varies depending on who is reporting the history, and most historians set the date much later). But, it is estimated that herbals were being used in China from more than 5000 years ago, and possibly more! After that first writing on Chinese herbals, another famous Chinese herbalist wrote, arguably, one of the most important treatises on herbs in the history of Chinese medicine. And it was all based on the author’s own observations and experiments. His name was Shen Nong, and his writings are some of the most important of all times, among a host of other important Chinese practitioners. Bearing in mind that much of the ancient Chinese history of TCM is based on myth and conjecture, the best we can do is take the valuable information from the actual writings, particularly the “Materia Medica” of the numerous ancient writers on the subject and benefit from their vast experience and expertise, leaving the actual “history” of who and when to the historians (who, by the way, don’t agree on it either).
Chinese medicine is based on a total analysis of the body, including the taking of the pulses, checking the tongue, and the overall appearance of the body, and according to what the patient presents. This is very important in TCM, since every factor in the body and in the external environment affects the health of a person, and as such, must be taken into consideration. With Traditional Chinese Medicine, the idea is to carefully get the body to go back to homeostasis (balance) in a gentle way. The ideal method is to get this to happen without any side effects and, with TCM this is accomplished. The goal in Chinese medicine is to keep a person healthy, and to prevent illness from happening, so the Chinese normally see their doctors regularly for treatments when they are not ill, and would get upset with their doctor if they did fall ill!
There are several branches of Chinese medicine that are all considered completely valid. They include acupuncture (which is an energy revitalizing treatment using very thin needles at a variety of important energy points, depending on what the problem is) (along with acupressure (which is like massage, but very specific and strong, on certain pressure points over the entire body, moxibustion (which is a kind of treatment using a special Chinese herb burned over pressure points), cupping (which is using a vacuum to create suction on pressure points, etc.), herbal medicine (which uses traditional Chinese herbs in a variety of ways, including herbal tinctures, herbal infusions and more), “power and spirit” exercises (including Qi Gong and Tai Chi (which are both a kind of martial arts concentrating on the specific use of energy and how to control it), and nutritional therapy (which is therapy based on the diet of the patient, depending on what the patient needs) (all of which we will discuss further later on). Each of these methods is useful alone, and using several or all of them together is the best of all.
There are almost 2000 known Chinese herbs that were extensively written about since ancient times in China, and literally thousands of set prescriptions that have been written about in the ancient Chinese herbal books. Presently, there are almost 6000 herbal substances that are written about in the present day Materia Medica. A couple of the more well known Chinese herbs are ginseng (which is also found in some other places in the world as well, and is good for rejuvenation, increasing energy and immune function, and as a general tonic herb), and Dong Quai (which has been used as a general tonic as well, but has come to be known also for it’s benefit to menopausal and post-menopausal women as well). And there are many more where those came from. The ancient herbal practice, along with the wide variety of other medical practices of the Chinese are still being used almost in their original forms up to the present day as well.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is recognized all over the world now, and is accepted as a bonafide medical practice that is valid and beneficial. Even the AMA (American Medical Association) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have clearly accepted Chinese medicine in many ways, particularly in the case of acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies treat every sort of ailment from the common cold to cancer and are quite successful, providing the practitioner is qualified and experienced. There are TCM practitioners all over the world now, in practically every country, including Kuwait. In fact, in Kuwait, the Ministry of Health even has a special branch that only uses Traditional Chinese Medicine and brings specialized doctors of TCM directly from China!