What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, uses thousands of years of knowledge of the benefits of herbs — some of which we already commonly include in our diets — to support and enhance the body’s natural healing abilities. Through a careful and thorough diagnosis performed by your TCM physician or licensed acupuncturist, you’ll receive a prescription for specific herbs or formulas, tailored specifically for you, that can help improve many common health concerns.
If you’re new to TCM, you’ll probably have a lot of questions. You also may not know where to get information about adding the benefits of TCM to your current wellness program. The best place to start is a consultation with a local TCM practitioner, otherwise known as an acupuncturist who is trained and certified in Chinese herbs and formulas, who can examine you and prescribe herbs based on many unique personal factors. However, learning more about the herbs and how they are commonly used can also help guide your questions and get you started on improving your health.
How To Use TCM Herbs
Under the guidance of your licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, you will take your TCM herbs and formulas in capsular, granular or tablet form, much like you would ordinary medications, in quantities carefully prescribed for you.
TCM herbs and formulas can help patients with a wide variety of concerns including:
- Symptoms related to colds and flu (cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, etc.)
- Sleep problems
- Digestive health
- Joint pain
- PMS and Fertility
- Balancing Blood Pressure
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Thyroid problems
- Menopause symptoms
Patients can find relief for these and many other problems through acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
The key to finding the right herbs or formulas for you will be visiting a licensed acupuncturist who is trained in Chinese herbal medicine and having an open discussion of your concern and past medical history. While complications are rare, some herbs should be avoided under certain circumstances, for example, if you have specific allergies or hypertension, or during pregnancy. Because so many herbs with known benefits exist, your practitioner can substitute another herb or formula to help with your concern in these instances.
The Five Tastes (Wu Wei)
Spicy (Xin) - Yang in Nature
- Spicy (Xin) - Yang in Nature
Substances that enter the Lung Meridian.
Spicy substances can scatter, disperse, and move.
- Diaphoretic, Treats Cold, and is Nourishing
- Invigorates Blood and Moves Blood Stagnation
Sweet (Gan) - Yang in Nature
Substances that enter the Spleen Meridian.
Sweet substances can scatter, tonify, harmonize, and are sometimes thought to moisten.
- Alleviate Pain and Spasms
- Nourish and Tonify the Middle Jiao
- Changes the taste of Herbal Formula
Bitter (Ku) - Yin in Nature
Substances that enter the Heart Meridian.
Bitter substances can drain, clear Heat, dry Dampness, and descend Fire.
- Retention of Dampness due to Heat or Cold
Sour (Suan) - Yin in Nature
Substances that enter the Liver Meridian.
Sour substances can drain, astringes, improve digestion, soften the arteries, and prevent or reverse the abnormal leakage of energy and fluids.
- Excess Perspiration
- Softens Arteries
Salty (Xian) - Yin in Nature
Substances that enter Kidneys.
Salty substances can drain, purge, and soften masses
- Softens and Dissolves Lumps and Masses
- Reduce Phlegm