The view of how the body works and what causes ill health are quite different to the Western understanding. However, despite its nuances and complexities, the focus of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is always on restoring balance and harmony.
Many people view balance as an ideal to be strived for in the hope that one day they’ll magically be able to manage everything they’ve got on their plates. However, from the perspective of TCM, being in balance means all parts of your body, mind and spirit are nourished and functioning as they should - both individually and in relationship to each other - and that you’re in harmony with the world around you.
The Concept of Qi
Central to traditional Chinese medicine is the concept of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), the vital energy or life force that we use on a daily basis.
Qi constantly moves around the body along pathways called meridians, which interconnect different organ systems and tissues. Health problems can develop if the flow of Qi becomes unbalanced or impeded, and restoring the flow of Qi and appropriate energetic balance to the body is vital to restoring harmony and allowing the body to heal.
In TCM the kidneys functions are not only seen as controlling the body’s fluid balance, but also as the foundation of good health and optimal life expectancy. The Kidney energy is the root of all Qi.
Other important organ-meridian systems include the Liver, Lung, Heart, Stomach and Spleen.
How do acupuncture and Chinese herbs work?
When you have acupuncture, your practitioner feels your pulse to assess the characteristics of your Qi. They’re checking to see whether it’s deficient or excessive, congested or stagnant. If an energetic imbalance is diagnosed, they insert needles at specific points along your meridians to restore balance and flow to your Qi, which in turn regulates the relevant organ-meridian systems to return the body to optimal health.
Chinese herbal medicine works in a similar way to harmonise the functioning of the organ-meridian systems and restore energetic balance.