Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest systems of healthcare in the world, with its earliest known medical text dating back 2200 years ago. Its practice is informed by thousands of years of clinical experience and medical literature and is now being fully integrated with the discoveries of modern medicine. It is based on a holistic view of the world and the body that came from Chinese philosophy, which views how things are intrinsically connected and treats disease as a pattern of disharmony within our body systems and their relationship to our environment.
Treatments are aimed at restoring proper function and guiding the body back to health rather than simply targeting the disease itself and ignoring the person. A fitting analogy is to view a Western medicine provider as a mechanic, and an Eastern medicine provider as a gardener who landscapes and cultivates the body. As a result, all treatments are based on the individual and unique pattern presented by each individual case, rather than using a one size fits all approach. All aspects of life are taken into consideration, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, allowing for a unique treatment plan to fully address the root cause as well as symptoms.
Many modalities are including in the practice of TCM, including acupuncture, moxibustion (heat), tuina (massage), cupping (myofascial decompression), guasha (friction), and herbal medicine. Patient education and lifestyle counseling is also a major component of TCM, including personal growth strategies and health guidance such as food therapy to address diet and gut health. Therapeutic exercise and meditative practices such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi are also an important part of Chinese Medicine, strengthening the body and developing qualities within us that promote longevity and prevent future diseases
Chinese herbal medicine has always been an integral part of TCM, forming the main method of practice in China itself. Healing substances have been recorded in medical texts and prescribed in formulas for thousands of years, each generation improving the art with their experience. More recently modern medicine has started to recognize the enormous therapeutic benefits of herbs, researching their interactions with the body and chemical structures for a greater understanding of how they regulate human physiology. What makes Chinese herbal medicine unique is the depth of the tradition behind it, using the wisdom of TCM to diagnose individual patterns of disharmony for each individual patient and treating accordingly. Because of this, they must be prescribed by a licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. When administered correctly they are both safe and effective.
Although pharmaceutical drugs are potent forms of medicine when needed, there are many instances where herbal medicine is the preferred method of treatment, though in many cases the two can be used together for better results. Unlike drugs, some herbs will actively strengthen systems in our body and make them more resilient to stress and disease. In general, herbs modulate body functions rather than suppress them like most medications, leading to improved outcomes in acute and chronic pain, digestion, cardiovascular health, inflammatory diseases, immune system function, mental health and sleep disorders, women’s health, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, low libido, and a wide range of functional and chronic illnesses.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi
Qi Gong is literally translated as “energy work/skill.” Qi is to be understand as energy, whether on a universal level or within our body. Gong refers to both the practice of an art and the skill that comes from it. Qi Gong an ancient practice developed by the Chinese sages and medical practitioners for personal cultivation as well as the promotion of health and longevity. Movements are done without tension, allowing for relaxation of muscles and development of circulation through the connective layers of the body. This allows vital energy and physical substances like blood and body fluids such as lymph or interstitial fluid to flow more evenly through the body. The practice also develops mindfulness, using breath and bodily awareness to cultivate peace and greater understanding of ourselves.
Tai Chi is a particular branch of Qi Gong involving coordinated movements that were originally developed for martial arts applications. The practice of Tai Chi shares the same benefits as the practice of Qi Gong, and most practitioners are primarily focused on the development of these positive qualities rather than using it for fighting. All movements in the form are gentle, avoiding impact or strain on the body while still active enough to develop strength, flexibility, and balance. This makes them perfect for maintaining health at all ages and levels of physical ability. Falko teaches Tai Chi as both a martial and healing art form through his martial arts school Tiger Claw Kung Fu and Tai Chi in Kelowna.
The benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice are extensive and well documented. Regular practice has been shown to bring wellness through numerous body systems. By restoring proper posture and alignment it can help treat and prevent pain, arthritis, and joint degeneration. It has been shown to increase bone density and prevent injury and falls through better balance. It can also energize and bring positive changes to metabolism, immune system function, energy levels, sexual health, and mood. It can calm the nervous system, ease stress, quiet the mind, and improve sleep, helping with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Perhaps most importantly, the practice can be used to make us into better people, developing more compassion and awareness in lives and relationships.
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