Chinese medicine: a comprehensive health system

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Chinese medicine considers man as a whole and consists in restoring harmony between body and mind. It is a comprehensive health system based on vital energy: "Qi".

What is the origin of Chinese medicine?

More than 2,500 years ago, Chinese medicine is a complete health system influenced by Taoism and Confucianism. It is said to have been first described in the "Huangdi Neijing", the oldest manual of Chinese medicine compiled between -500 BC. C. AD and 200 AD. It is the doctors, shamans and healers who are the source of Chinese medicine and have perfected it over the centuries according to the methods we know today.

Chinese medicine first appeared in the West in the 1950s. Unlike Western medicine in its thinking about humans and disease, it aroused curiosity and skepticism.

The World Health Organization (WHO) belatedly recognized the value of Chinese medicine. In 2002, he defined it as "comprising various health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs that integrate herbal, animal and / or mineral medicines, spiritual treatments, manual techniques and exercises, applied alone or in combination, to maintain well-being and treat , diagnose or prevent disease."

The term "traditional Chinese medicine" (TCM) has been abandoned by experts around the world in favor of the term "Chinese medicine" (MC) that is closer to the term used in Chinese. However, it is still used by official bodies like the WHO or the media.

What are the principles of Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine does not differentiate between body and mind. It is a holistic medicine: it considers man as a whole, whose health depends on multiple factors all linked together.

Man is made up of five vital substances:

Qi, an energy at work in everything and in every living being;

The Spirit that corresponds to our faculties of creation and organization;

Essences, that is, our original genetic heritage, consolidated or modified by our living conditions (food, air, etc.);

Blood, nutritious organic fluid;

Liquids: nasal secretions, hydrating saliva, digestive saliva, tears, sweat, etc.

To these substances are added five organs (the liver, the heart, the lung, the spleen and the kidneys) and the viscera (intestines, stomach, bladder, gallbladder). In addition, the heart envelope and three foci are discussed, specific concepts of Chinese medicine.

Man is also subject to dynamic or passive breaths, in cycles. This is the Yin and Yang theory, everything is balanced in duality. In the Taoist view of the universe, five phases, or five movements, arise from the opposition of these two forces: wood, fire, metal, water, and earth.

The harmonious balance established within the human body by the exercise of these different forces can be altered. When the imbalance occurs, the body sends signals - symptoms. The Qi is blocked, in too great an amount or, on the contrary, deficient in certain strategic points of the body: the meridians.

Chinese medicine has several methods to order the circulation of Qi. Acupuncture, for example, acts directly on the meridians by implanting and manipulating needles at strategic points.

Why consult a Chinese medicine practitioner?

In principle, anyone with symptoms or illness can find the cause through Chinese medicine. In practice, Chinese medicine professionals find that patients come to them when they are disappointed or when they have exhausted all the resources of modern Western medicine.

Chinese medicine aims to prevent disease, improve patient health, or slow the progression of disease. In serious diseases like cancer, it is often administered as a supplement to reduce the effects of intense treatment in western medicine.

Based on the principle of rebalancing the harmony of the body, Chinese medicine can theoretically help all patients, regardless of their illness.

It is very difficult to establish a comprehensive list of the recognized benefits of Chinese medicine. The only official list that exists only takes into account the benefits of acupuncture. Established by the WHO since 1979 and updated in 2003, it includes 43 diseases treated under clinical tests with acupuncture, as well as the results obtained for each of them.

How do you practice Chinese medicine?

Chinese medicine is made up of four fundamental branches:

Pharmacopoeia or Phytotherapy: a prescription-based medication for medicinal herbs or herbal dietary supplements; Acupuncture (including moxibustion and cupping) - a technique for implanting and manipulating needles at points along the meridians.

Dietetics: an adapt dietAda to everyone's needs according to their sensitivity to each food. Food is classified according to its color, its action (invigorating, dispersing, etc.), its flavor (spicy, sweet, bitter, etc.), its nature (cold, fresh, neutral, warm, hot), etc.

Tui na massage and osteoarticular manipulations: a massage based on various gentle manipulations designed to harmonize Qi.

Contrary to popular belief, qi gong and tai chi energy exercises are not a fifth branch of Chinese medicine. Experts consider them parallel practices.

After a complete evaluation to identify the causes of your disease or your symptoms according to the parameters of Chinese medicine, the professional will establish your diagnosis and direct you to one or more branches of Chinese medicine according to your needs.

What contraindications for Chinese medicine?

There are no general contraindications for Chinese medicine, but there are several contraindications depending on the technique used (acupuncture, massage, etc.). The professional must direct his patient to one of the branches of Chinese medicine that does not have any contraindications for his case.

Therefore, a priori anyone can be treated with Chinese medicine because it is very rare to have a contraindication for all methods.

How is a consultation in Chinese medicine carried out?

The consultation in Chinese medicine always begins with a complete evaluation. This takes place in four stages:

The interview or questionnaire: the professional asks the patient about her lifestyle, her professional and social life, her mood, her symptoms and her recent or previous illnesses;

Observation: the doctor observes the complexion of the patient, his gaze, his general attitude, his mouth, his eyes and his ears;

Listening: the professional listens to the sound of the patient's voice, his breathing (slow, fast, cough, congested bronchi) and asks if they are subject to hiccups, belching or any other noise.

Palpation: The practitioner searches for abnormally hot or cold areas of the body. Taking the pulse is much more complex than in Western medicine: the doctor places three fingers on the artery of each handle. The first pulse gives information about the chest, the second in the upper abdomen, the third in the lower abdomen. Some acupuncturists also palpate the meridians to check the condition of the body.

At the end of this evaluation, the professional establishes a diagnosis according to the parameters of Chinese medicine. Depending on the patient's needs and personal practice, he will prescribe a calm acupuncture or massage session. You can also suggest an herbal remedy or recommendations based on the principles of Chinese diet.

After a Chinese acupuncture or massage session, the patient may feel tired a few days after their session. This fatigue is linked to the rebalancing of your Qi. These discomforts are completely normal and will disappear in the following days.

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