Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is not what you think. It's not actually a medicine. The term TCM includes an array of healing modalities that include acupuncture, chinese herbal medicine moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, qi gong, tai chi, and medicinal food therapy. Unlike western medicine, which focuses on isolating and separating disease from the human, Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes a holistic approach that treats the physical and psychological as a whole.
The father of Chinese Medical Herbs and Agriculture was called Shen-Nong and was said to have lived around 6000 years ago. He wrote the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, Shennong Ben Cao Jing, dating from 206 B.C. and its the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia documenting 365 herbs. In this classic, herbs are categorized two main groups: herbs to include in the diet for vitality, health, preventing illness and herbs dispensed to each patient as an personalized formula based the the patient's patterns, living environment, and medical diagnosis.
According to the study of Acupuncture, our body has 360+ acupuncture points, where each point contains a pool of Qi (energy). Imagine your body as a highway of interconnected routes - each route is for an organ network, and each exit off of the highway is an acupuncture point. Imagine if there is an accident now off the exit - there's a huge backup of traffic and no one can get anywhere and everything slows down and you're stuck in traffic. That's essentially what happens when you have Qi Stagnation - a common diagnosis term in TCM. To clear up the roadblock, acupuncture needles are inserted into the point to relieve the stagnation - don't worry the needles don't hurt - nothing like the needles you see with injections! See below comparison of needles. See? Nothing to be scared of!
TCM is based on many ancient philosophies, one of which is Daoism. This naturalist thought sees a person as an energy system where the body and mind are always connected, always in relationship and can influence and balance one another. Chinese Medicine diagnosis of the body is based on the Yin-Yang theory and 5 Phases.
The history of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM dates back to thousands of years). It was first dated back to 2000 BC starting from The Shang People (1700-1100BC) to modern times. While the history is rich and the techniques are abundant, Westerners have only gained exposure to TCM from the late 1970s. Lucky for us because now all of our modern-day health patterns (stress, infertility, IBS, etc) has a light at the end of the tunnel!
Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities has evolved over centuries - while the healing techniques are the same. What's improved? All acupuncture treatments today use sterilized needles that have been tested and developed by trusted companies. Modern chinese medicine also offers more simple herbal supplements that help patients adopt these practices. Through globalization of medicinal foods and modern chinese medicine, most clinics can now offer ready-made classical prescriptions sold as herbal powders that are available in easy-to-ingest dissolvable formats. More on modern chinese medicine here.
When you first see a Chinese Medicine practitioner, you will be asked to stick out your tongue, give your pulse for a reading. Your TCM practitioner will also ask you a series of questions that will ask you to reveal your physical history and psychological state-of-mind. Why? This is because TCM diagnosis is entirely based on pattern differentiation - we're trained to take a holistic approach to understanding the body and how everything is in relationship with one another.
Once the TCM practitioner performs a diagnosis (Tongue, pulse, and pattern identification) the herbalist will develop a specific formula using the principals behind Pattern Identification. Chinese Herbal medicine is classified into Cold/Cool and Hot/Warm.A blend of these herbs will help restore a yin-yang - so if your diagnosis contains Heat patterns, you will likely receive Cooling herbs, and vice-versa. Every patient diagnosed will receive a different chinese medicine therapy, so even if you and a friend have similar conditions. Each body is very different, and so to resolve the imbalance, it will require different herbal treatments and personalized chinese medicine therapy for healing.
Using natural ingredients and adjusting the body in a comprehensive way, TCM offers a holistic healing approach that continuously adjusts the body slowly, to help your body build strength to fight against illness. Many people have found Traditional Chinese Medicine and its healing modalities to be excellent tools for managing chronic health conditions or for preventing illness.
My earliest memories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began in the living room of my childhood home, where my dad, Dr. Sun, held his first Acupuncture space. At a young age, I saw the myriad of herbs he would pull together for his patients. Our basement was an apothecary, our kitchen filled with my pieces from my Operator set, and the living room served patients. After immigrating to New York City from Shanghai in the 1970s, my parents, like many other immigrants of New York, left everything they ever knew, to build a brand new life from scratch.
As a first generation American-born-Chinese kid growing up in NYC, it was hard to understand why my parents didn't pack me Capri-suns and Fig Newtons in my lunchbox. Instead of letting me wear short-shorts and slurp Ralph's Italian ices all Summer long, I was taught to always drinking warm water no matter what, make sure my feet were never freezing cold, and to listen to my body and treat it well.
While having practiced Chinese Medicine for a lifetime with my dad, it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly started to feel like I wanted to step into this world and be a champion of this beautiful, complex, and deeply connected world of ancient healing and wisdom. My friends and family were all beginning to seek holistic and alternative forms of health, and they would come to me and I would send them to my dad.
My turning point came when I saw the wellness industry seem to explode with all sorts of Qi Balancing, Yin Boosting, He Shou Wu touting products for this-that-and the other. Appalled by the lack of direction consumers face today in navigating "what wellness products should I take and why", I felt the need to step up and bring clear and medically supported guidance in navigating the natural way to being well.
I am making a step towards building a lineage of Traditional Healers and continuing the legacy that my dad, Dr. Sun, has created. This is inspired by a life long learning of my own culture and heritage that came thousands of years before me. And together we will learn, appreciate, and share the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Welcome to a world of inspiration: here to teach you how to listen to your body, feed it what it needs, and give you the tools to understand how to rebalance the yin to your yang with everyday foods.
Modern Chinese Wellness, from my family to yours.