Chinese herbal medicines are prescribed medicines containing herbs in the form of either tablets, powder, paste, or locations. These medicines are mainly plant-based but some may contain animal products and minerals. The type and quantity of the herbs prescribed depend on the current state of the patient’s Yin and Yang and the elements of the affected organs.
As per the TCM philosophy, Yin and Yang are opposing forces of energy, Qi, that flows through any living being and if not balanced cause illness and pains. These herbs are divided into five tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent each corresponding to the five elements – water, earth, fire, wood, and metal that form the organs of the body.
Acupuncture is a form of treatment where TCM practitioners insert very thin needles at strategic places on the body through the skin. It is generally given along with other TCM treatments. Acupuncture is most commonly given to treat aches and pains but some people also get this treatment done for general wellness.
Tui Na is very similar to acupuncture and is done mainly to treat pain. Tui Na can be referred to more as a massage. Instead of using needles, the TCM practitioner massages and puts pressure on the acupoints to stimulate them and treat the underlying problem. Popular techniques that form a part of Tui Na are acupressure, reflexology, and myofascial release.
Cupping is a healing therapy used to relieve pain in various parts of the body by placing heated cups on the desired area, creating a suction force that pulls the skin up as the cups cool. This, in turn, draws fluids in the treated area, increasing blood circulation, relieving tension in the muscles, and is also believed to trigger a natural healing process in the area. Cupping could be dry cupping, involving only suction created by cups, of wet cupping, whereby therapeutic bleeding is also combined.
Moxibustion involves the burning of dried moxa (or mugwort) on areas of the body to be treated. The warmth generated from the process is believed to stimulate the flow of Qi in the treated area. It is used for relief from conditions such as arthritis, stiffness of muscles, migraines, digestive issues, ulcers, menstrual cramps, and flu.
Auricular therapy treats pains and conditions of the body by stimulating specific points on the auricle or external ear. Various pressure points on the auricle correspond to points on the whole body.
Stimulation of these pressure points produces a therapeutic effect in the corresponding area of the body. Physical as well as emotional areas are represented. Stimulation can be generated using acupuncture, acupressure, or other methods such as ear seeds.
Gua Sha is a technique of scraping the skin in long or short massage strokes using a Gua Sha tool, usually a flat quartz stone. Application of pressure with the massage strokes stimulates circulation of blood. The technique is usually applied on the back, limbs, neck, and buttocks and a milder version on the face. Gua Sha helps in relieving pain in muscles and joints. Gua Sha is also believed to provide relief for cold and fever.