About Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of medicine which was created in China thousands of years ago. It plays a great role in our Sparks acupuncture service. The basis of TCM is rooted in Chinese philosophy of yin yang theory and five element theory. These theories work to explain everything in the universe and they are also applied to health, illness, and the human body. TCM views illness in part as imbalances or disharmonies in these elements and works to correct that.

In TCM, practitioners treat the body as a whole, not just symptoms. They treat the root and branch (aka the cause and symptom). They look at the tongue and face and feel the pulse and ask the patient questions about all aspects of their health in order to identify patterns of disharmony.

In TCM, practitioners use acupuncture and herbal formulas to circulate and tonify Qi, blood, yin, and yang. The translation of Qi is “vital air” and Qi is what runs through the meridians all over the body. The Qi in these meridians can become stagnant or deficient inhibiting it’s smooth flow and causing pain.

In western terms, Qi can be thought of as an umbrella term for a group of physiological functions such as blood circulation, nerve conductivity, and oxygen and nutrient transport. The meridians all run along major nerve and blood vessel pathways and when the acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points on these pathways, the nerves are stimulated to increase electrical conductivity and the blood vessels are stimulated to promote blood circulation. In these ways, the needles promote healing and homeostasis in areas of the body that are stagnant and nutrient deprived.

Acupuncture and herbs are also used to expel “evil Qi”, or pathogenic factors, that might enter the body such as wind, heat, cold, damp, etc. These can accumulate and cause imbalance in the meridians.

Acupuncture is just one modality of TCM. TCM practitioners are also trained in other modalities such as cupping, moxabustion, gua sha (scraping), electrical stimulation, and nutritional counseling. Make sure to connect with Katie for your Sparks acupuncture and TCM needs.