Chinese Medicine – just what is it?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are two types of Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine has over 2,000 years of history and development in China, and is used to treat both acute and chronic illnesses.  The core of this system of medicine is Chinese medical theory – a comprehensive description of how the human body functions in both health and illness. Chinese medical theory is based on a concept of balance in all aspects of life: physical, emotional,  spiritual, and one’s environment. When one aspect of life is out of balance, this may be reflected elsewhere. Sometimes the imbalance results in signs of illness. Clinically, this theory can be applied to treat illness with a variety of treatment methods. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are used to restore balance, and promote the body’s ability to heal itself. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also used preventively for health maintenance.

How does Chinese medicine work?

The Chinese medical model describes body function in terms of Qi (pronounced chee), Blood, and the Organ Systems.* Qi is similar to the life force, or energy. Health exists when the Qi, Blood and Organ Systems are balanced and working together harmoniously. The Qi and Blood are distributed throughout the body via the channels or pathways, associated with each Organ System. Acupuncture points are located on these channels. Acupuncture is used to restore balance to the Qi and Blood in the channels and Organ Systems. Chinese herbs act directly on the targeted Organ Systems, Qi, and/or Blood, to restore balance and optimal health. Other treatment methods (moxibustion, cupping, massage) also work to restore balance.

*Qi, Blood, and Organ Systems are capitalized to indicate that they represent Chinese medical theoretical concepts. They do not refer to the actual physical organs or blood.