What is TCM, acupuncture, herbs, reishi, chaga, he shou wu, cordyceps

Written by: Antje Verluen

We’ve all heard of Chinese medicine, be it acupuncture, herbal medicine or cupping. But what can we learn from the ancient Asian wisdom today? Does it have a place in our western scientific approach of health? Let’s dive into it.

Ancient practice

To start, Traditional Chinese medicine is built on a foundation of more than 2,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise and dietary therapy. Today it is also informed by modern medicine and apart from being practiced in China, it’s expanding to Europe and North America. Because yes, there are things we can learn from this ancient practice.

Holistic approach

The current hip thing in Western medicine? A holistic approach, meaning: looking at not just an individual’s illness or disease, but the person as a whole within its context. This approach is the cornerstone in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Here, health is perceived as a harmony and harmonious interaction of the various entities (digestion, breathing, aging and so on). A TCM diagnosis will try to trace symptoms of the disharmony and look at many aspects related to it. A disharmony will never stand on it’s own, and therefore shouldn’t be treated singular.

Make way for the herbals

Ask people what they know about TCM and herbal medicine is what they’ll answer most, along with acupuncture. TCM has listed roughly 13.000 herbs that create more than 100.000 recipes. One mixture contains nine to eighteen herbs. While most of the ingredients are in fact herbs, also animal, human and mineral substances are used, apart from botanical. Herbal mixes can be anti-inflammation and limit stress, and can therefore help protect the brain’s health and memory, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s just one of the many ways the Chinese herbal recipes can be helpful.

Food: nourishing life

According to TCM, ‘food and medicine share a common origin and both can therefore be used to prevent or treat medical disorders’. Food is categorized as either heating or cooling. Hot foods will help heal ‘cold’ diseases (diarrhea, fatigue, chills, colds and low body temperature). Cold foods on the other hand will help heal skin rashes, heartburn, sore throat and constipation (‘hot’ diseases). It’s all about the balance.

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