Traditional Chinese Medicine ‎Acupuncture: What You Need To Know!

TCM Acupuncture | Dundas University Health Clinic

Traditional Chinese Medicine – An Overview

An ancient system of health and wellness, traditional Chinese medicine has been used in China for thousands of years. While Western medicine focuses mainly on treating disease, traditional Chinese medicine or TCM Chinese medicine looks at a person’s entire well-being. It does not focus on science and medicine but is instead based on balance, harmony, and energy.

Traditional Chinese medicine is based on two central ideas:

Qi:  Also called life energy or vital energy, qi (pronounced ‘chee’) is believed to run through the body. Always on the move, qi constantly changes. Traditional Chinese medicine treatments focus on creating harmony and promoting and maintaining the healthy flow of qi.

Yin and Yang: Opposites, they describe the qualities of qi. While yin signifies night, dark, cold, feminine, and negative, yang denotes day, light, warm, male, and positive. This approach is based on the belief that everything in life contains a bit of its opposite. When the yin and yang of qi are balanced, the person feels well and healthy. An imbalance makes the person sick.

TCM Chinese medicine practitioners use different psychological and/or physical approaches such as traditional Chinese acupuncture and Tai Chi as well as herbal products to address health problems. TCM practices are used to not only fight disease, but also prevent it.

What science says about the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine


Traditional Chinese acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicine. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points which are connected by pathways or meridians. These pathways create an energy flow known as qi, which is responsible for overall health. If this energy flow is disrupted, it can cause disease. Applying acupuncture to certain points is believed to improve the flow of qi, thus enhancing health.

In this technique, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture practitioners stimulate specific points on the body. This is generally done by inserting thin needles through the skin. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the release of the body’s natural painkillers. It affects areas in the brain that are involved in processing pain. Acupuncture is known to help ease chronic pain such as low-back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tension and migraine headaches.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi has been described as meditation in motion; it is considered by many to be medication in motion. A mind-body practice, it originated in China as a martial art. Tai Chi can play a role in treating or preventing many health problems. What’s even better is that it can be practised even by those who are not in great shape or in the best of health.

It is a low-impact, slow-motion exercise. Without pausing, you go through a series of motions that are named after animal actions or martial arts moves.Tai Chi combines certain postures, gentle movements, mental focus, breathing, and relaxation.

Tai Chi is seen to be beneficial for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age. Research suggests that practising Tai Chi can improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s disease. It can also reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain. It is seen to improve quality of life and mood in those with heart failure.

Chinese Herbal Products

Chinese herbal products include herbs that are prescribed to restore energy balance in the body. Herbs can act on the body as strongly as pharmaceutical drugs and should hence be treated with the same caution and respect. While Chinese herbal medicines are mainly plant-based, some preparations can include minerals or animal products. They can be packaged as powders, pastes, lotions or tablets. Different herbs have different properties and can balance particular parts of the body. The TCM Chinese medicine practitioner prescribes a particular herb or concoction of herbs based on a diagnosis that takes into account the state of the patient’s yin and yang, and the elements governing the affected organs.

Chinese herbal products have been studied for their treatment of medical problems such as stroke, heart disease, mental disorders, and respiratory diseases including bronchitis and the common cold. However, as many of the studies have been of poor quality, their effectiveness has not been conclusively proved.

What Science Says About TheSafety Of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tai Chi and a similar technique called Qigong appear to be safe practices. It is not likely that these practices could cause serious injury, though they might result in minor aches and pains. It is important for pregnant women to speak about their condition to their healthcare providers.

Not many complications have been reported from using traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture. However, issues can arise due to the use of non-sterile needles and wrong delivery of treatments. Improperly delivered traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture can lead to infections, punctured organs, collapsed lungs, and injury to the central nervous system.

Safety issues have been reported in certain herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine. Some Chinese herbal products have been found to be contaminated with undeclared plant or animal material, allopathic drugs, heavy metals, pesticides or incorrect herbs.

What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine ‎Acupuncture Feel Like?

Traditional Chinese acupuncture is done using needles that are as thin as hair. Most people feel minimal pain as the needle is inserted. The needle is inserted to a point that produces a feeling of pressure or ache. Needles may be heated during the treatment or mild electric current may be applied to them. While some people report feeling energised, others report feeling relaxed by traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture.

Instead of needles, other forms of stimulation are sometimes used over the acupuncture points, in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. These include:

  • Heat (moxibustion)
  • Pressure (acupressure)
  • Friction
  • Suction (cupping)
  • Impulses of electromagnetic energy


There can be many benefits to using traditional Chinese medicine. However, it is important to choose a certified practitioner to be safe. Talk with your healthcare provider before using TCM herbal products. Traditional Chinese medicine and acupunctures should not be used to replace or delay seeking conventional care. In order to ensure coordinated and safe care, inform your healthcare providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use.