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Article: The Ultimate Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine - TCM

The Ultimate Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine - TCM

You must have heard the buzzwords surrounding Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). With a history of 3,000 years, ancient health and wellness herbal solutions have been around for a long time. The TCM practice has been a major part of Chinese healthcare.

But in the last few years, the West has been relying more on Chinese Herbal Remedies. This therapy uses Natural Chinese Herbs to prevent and treat the body and mind-related health issues. Many of you must be wondering about the hype of TCM. We have compiled the ultimate guide to help you understand its increasing demand. So let's get started with the basics!

History Traditional Chinese Medicine

History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Dating to 200 BCE, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an effective medical system focusing on diagnosing, preventing, and treating diseases. Classical Chinese texts show records of Chinese Herbal Remedies, acupuncture, etc., practices that have been refined over the years.

Observed for centuries in Asia, Chinese immigrants were the first to introduce Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the United States in the 19th Century. Yet it was in 1971 that Americans became familiar with the TCM thanks to James Reston– New York Times reporter.

James Reston was in China when he had to have an emergency appendix operation. He received acupuncture after his surgery and shared his experience with the masses. That was when TCM gained popularity as an alternative medicine globally.

However, in the 19th Century, Western Medicine's rise caused certain principles of TCM to become outdated. But in the 20th Century, there was an enormous growth in the popularity of Chinese Herbal Remedies due to the increasing awareness of self-care and the desire to understand traditional healing techniques.

Between the 20th and 21st centuries, many people worldwide started using the TCM approach. Chinese doctors offered their services in other countries because of the increasing interest of people in this treatment approach. As of today, the United States has 14,000 practitioners for TCM.  

Philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine might be frightening to approach for the first time, but it becomes much easier to understand once you grasp the basic concepts. The concepts of Essential Qi, Yin-Yang, and the Five Elements were the philosophical ideas that had the most significant influence on the growth of this treatment form.

Essential Qi

Qi means vital energy, which flows through our bodies connecting the metabolic functions and organs. If Qi is moving freely, you can expect maximum vitality. At the same time, a block in Qi's flow causes health issues. Following the previous concept, our blood is Yin, while Qi is Yang. Therefore, both elements need to work together to be resilient.

Yin-Yang 

TCM Practitioners categorize body organs into Yin-Yang to identify the imbalances in our body system. As per this philosophy, there are two forces, Yin ( the feminine, earth energy) and Yang (the masculine, solar energy), which co-exist to foster health and harmony. A disruption between the two results in the person becoming sick.

Eight Principles

Another basic philosophy Chinese Practitioners use is the Eight Principles for assessing diseases. Yin and Yang are important components of this principle, while the rest of the six fall opposite within them. These include Deficiency/ Excess, Interior/Exterior, and Cold/Hot.

For instance: Cold is identified as an exterior due to the virus entering the body. Similarly, chills are categorized as cold because of the excess of Yin. At the same time, a fever is classified as hot since the Yang increases.

Five Elements 

The forces of Wood, Water, Earth, Fire, and metal define our interaction with the environment. Despite being in a constant state of change, we all are made up of a particular element corresponding to our personalities, physical characteristics, and pre-existing health issues. This can aid a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in creating a more individualized treatment plan.

Body constitution 

According to TCM, we all have distinct psychological, physiological, and structural features which make up our body constitution. The body's constitution influences how vulnerable we are to certain illnesses. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners examine the skin, hair, tongue, and voice to determine the body's constitution.

Besides six wrist pulses and eye brightness, they can also assess nail color. Following that, they will classify the particular body constitution into one of nine major categories (or a combination of these types) and develop a customized treatment plan. 

How does TCM work

How does TCM work?

Traditional Chinese Medicine works by understanding our body's vital energy, Qi's flow through our body. This therapy works by restoring the imbalance between the Yang and Yin while restoring the flow of Qi. TCM has different forms, such as Massage, Meditation, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Remedies, etc. 

Out of all these treatment methods, Chinese Herbal Remedies are a common part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This therapy uses hundreds of Natural Chinese Herbs to treat a specific condition. Certain medications may have a few herbs with designated roles, while some formulas have active ingredients for a primary complaint, and others have customized herbal formulas for each person.

For over 2,200 years, Natural Chinese Herbs have helped strengthen organs, resulting in good health. These include ingredients that have been selected to work well together. Each plant in Chinese Herbal Remedies serves a distinct function to aid the body in achieving balance.

Over the years, Chinese emperors worked on multiplying and preserving the knowledge of their ancestors. The information on Chinese Herbal Medicine we have today is backed up by thousands of years of data. 

This medication is available in different forms, such as:

  • Capsules or granules
  • A personalized formula for your illness
  • Traditional formula
  • Powder or Liquid extracts
  • Granules or easy-to-digest capsules 

Differences between Western and traditional Chinese herbalism

Chinese Herbal Remedies

Western Herbal Formula

Makes a diagnosis on the patient's symptoms and physical characteristics (such as the color of the tongue, skin, and eyes, as well as the pulse) and then works to address the underlying systemic issue while avoiding any possible side effects.

Instead of treating the body as a whole and interrelated system, it focuses on relieving symptoms and treats the target organ as if it were separate from the rest of the body.

It can alter the immune system, preventing future problems or the recurrence of the sickness.

 

It has no long-term advantages but may have long-term negative consequences since it acts instantly but also loses its effectiveness rapidly owing to its rapid metabolism.

It takes a bit longer to start working, but it is safer since it accounts for probable side effects. Additionally, it can stop the unintended consequences of Western Medicine's therapies.

Extremely successful for life-threatening disorders like viral infections since it often has quick or immediate effects. Even though it is a life-saving operation or practice, the main problem with these medications is the potential harm they may do to other bodily components.

Health benefits of traditional Chinese medicine

Health benefits of TCM

Chinese Herbal Remedies are effective for various conditions, like skin disease, digestion issues, stress, etc. Here are some health benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Skin conditions

Chinese herbalists diagnose diseases like eczema and atopic dermatitis by looking at the signs, symptoms, and other health systems. As a result, they make effective Chinese Herbal Remedies that treat the patient as a whole rather than only focusing on the skin problem itself and addressing their symptoms. Various clinical trials have shown herbal medicines to improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis effectively.

Boosts Energy

Since Chinese Herbal Medicine treats a person instead of focusing on one symptom, ultimately improving mood and digestion. These two components have a direct impact on improving sleep which is followed by an increase in energy.

Stress Management

Using the herbal approach can help push the body toward relaxation and digestion, which allows for better stress management, greater digestion, and more restful sleep, all of which contribute to enhanced mood and vitality.

Improved Digestion

Chinese Herbal Remedies can specifically benefit Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Clinical trials have shown that using herbs for the stomach improved bowel symptoms and played a major role in relieving the IBS signs.

Regulation of the Menstrual Cycle and Fertility Support

Another health benefit of Chinese Herbal Remedies is menstrual regulation and fertility support. Research has shown that compared to western medications, using Natural Chinese Herbs enhances pregnancy rates in 4 months by 2-folds.

 Flu and Cold

Chinese herbal remedies strengthen the immune system which protects the body against viral and bacterial diseases. These medications use herbal combinations that act like magic on the body. If we talk about individual herbs, Ginger is one of the Herbs for cold and flu; it acts as a warming agent. And it effectively flushes out the body's cold wind while restoring the Essential Qi.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

According to research, certain Natural Chinese Herbs may have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Paeonia lactiflora, commonly known as Bai Shao Yao, is a barkless dried root that has been used to cure muscle cramps, fever, arthritis, and spasms for over 1200 years.

Some recent studies indicate that TGP, a Bai Shao Yao water/ethanol extract, can reduce both acute and subacute inflammation, as well as lymphocyte proliferation and the generation of proinflammatory cytokines and IgM-antibodies. 

Improves and Protects Cognitive Health

Using Chinese Herbal Remedies is a great way not just to improve but also to protect your cognitive health. Natural Chinese Herbs aid in reducing inflammation while reducing stress during the process.

Since these herbs regulate the hormones that play a role in protecting the brain, this also helps in controlling the body’s immune response. Furthermore, the use of herbal remedies is known to reduce the chances of developing dementia in older age.

Natural Chinese Herbs

Chinese Herbal Remedies use herbs to alleviate specific conditions. Although thousands of formulations are designed for several health conditions, the Traditional Chinese practitioner creates a unique formula combining different Natural Chinese Herbs for each patient, making each medication individualized. Here is a list of some most common Chinese herbs:

  • Chrysanthemum: Known for its cooling effect, Chrysanthemum fights conditions linked with summer. In addition, it can also help with early signs of itchy eyes, sore throat, skin irritations, and fever.
  • White peony: Part of TCM for over 1000 years, the white peony treats ailments like pain, fever, and inflammation.
  • Saussurea: It is one of the effective herbs for stomach issues like stomach ulcers and gastritis. In addition, Saussurea helps in treating leprosy, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation-related diseases.
  • Sesame seeds: These are abundant in vitamins and nutrients, delay hair graying, and promote growth. Furthermore, using sesame seeds helps with constipation, numbness, and dizziness, numbness, increases breast milk production, and lubricates the intestines.
  • Goji berries promote a healthy skin complexion, retain body moisture, and help prevent eye dryness.
  • Ginger: It has anti-inflammatory properties and other healing properties like treating indigestion and nausea. Furthermore, Ginger is one of the herbs for cold and flu.
  • Astragalus: Astragalus promotes the Yin and Yang and blisters the body's defenses. Furthermore, it has health promoting effects such as immune-boosting, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Schizonepeta: It is another excellent herb for cold and flu. In addition, Schizonepeta is also effective for allergic rashes, eczema, etc.
  • Poria: Considered one of the most prescribed Chinese Herbal Remedies, studies have shown it to have antitumor, anti-inflammation, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties. Moreover, Poria is one of the effective herbs for stomach issues and improves intestinal health, restores gut flora, etc.
  • Rehmannia: It is known to provide comfort in times of stress, vitality when exhaustion approaches, and clarity of thought in times of confusion. Some of the other health benefits of Rehmannia are it protects the body from oxidative damage, improves the kidney health, controls bone density loss caused by menopause.

Where do you buy TCM

Where do you buy TCM? OHCO’s Full Spectrum of TCM Formulas

If you want to restore vibrant, healthy living, consider using Oriental Herb Company's (OHCO) Full Spectrum of Formulas. OHCO has offered a complete line of medicinal herbs since 1994 to consumers with a holistic East meets West approach. They provide high-quality products that are non-GMO and free of pesticides, heavy metals, and microbes.

You can maintain excellent health while providing your body with proper nutrition using Oriental Herb Company's 7 herbal formulas. These Chinese Herbal Remedies include Cold Snap, Stomach Chi, Chi'll Out, OHCO-Motion, OHCO-Flow, Wan Ton, and Allersnap. Let's look into the details of these products:

Cold Snap 

Using 20 herbs for cold and flu, Cold Snap restores the essential Qi. Coldsnap defends and strengthens the body's immunity against infections. It is a safe product and has no contraindications. Phragmites, Burdock, Forsythia. Japanese honeysuckle, Fermented Soybean, Lophatherium, and Balloon flower are some of the herbs in the formulation.

Stomach Chi

Stomach Chi has herbs for stomach aches, like Ginger, Magnolia, Saussurea, Chinese cardamom, Tangerine, Perilla, Licorice, etc. The addition of these Natural Chinese Herbs promotes the digestion process and enhances the nourishment process.

Chi’ll Out 

Chi'll Out's 19 herbs formula helps you to calm down during the day and improve your sleep at night. Some herbs included in this product are Atractylodes, Chinese senega, Dong Quai, Longan fruit, Milk-vetch, etc.

OHCO Motion

OHCO-Motion's combination of 20 herbs, like Poria, White peony, Peach, Cassia, Tree peony, Dong Quai, Sichuan lovage, etc., acts as a pain-killer. It soothes the lower body aches in regions like the lower back, hips, knees, and feet. 

OHCO Flow

OHCO Flow is another pain-killer targeting the upper body parts like the jaw, wrist, neck, and shoulder. It consists of Natural Chinese Herbs like Poria, White peony (root), Tree peony, Sichuan lovage, etc.

Wan Ton 

Wan Ton plays an important role in sexual enhancement, allowing the body to regain passion. This medication comprises herbs like Dong Quai, Sichuan lovage, Poria, Uncaria, Polygala, Morinda (root), Asiatic dogwood, etc.

Allersnap 

AllerSnap is an effective remedy for seasonal allergies, especially the ones that affect the sinuses and eyes. It is made from Natural Chinese Herbs like Rehmannia, Asiatic dogwood, Chinese yam, Tree peony, Forsythia, Sichuan lovage (rhizome), etc.

Summary of TCM Blog Content

Summing up

Chinese Herbal Remedies are becoming a popular treatment choice in the West due to their effectiveness and systematic approach. Owing to these properties, many people are moving towards this herbal solution resulting in an exponential increase in Traditional Chinese Medicine acceptance worldwide.

OHCO Products

 

References:

Traditional Chinese medicine and Kampo: a review from the distant past for the future https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16866016/

What Is the TCM Perspective? https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-tcm

Ying-Yang https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang

Traditional Chinese medicine https://www.britannica.com/science/traditional-Chinese-medicine

Chinese herbal medicine research in eczema treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110124/

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8353248/

Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in the management of female infertility: A systematic review https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229911001294

Assessment report on Paeonia lactiflora Pall. and Paeonia
veitchii Lynch, radix (Paeoniae radix rubra) https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/herbal-report/draft-assessment-report-paeonia-lactiflora-pall-paeonia-veitchii-lynch-radix-paeoniae-radix-rubra_en.pdf

Potential benefits and side effects of the white peony root https://www.ishonest.com/blogs/claudia-shannon/claudia-shannon-1637187916

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