Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese MedicineChinese Medicine

Chinese medicine draws from a history that is over 4,000 years old.  Its effectiveness and longevity in practice comes from the positive effects of bringing balance and harmony to the body as a whole and integrated system.  TCM sees the body as inseparable from natural world, and models its theories on how nature changes and creates symbiotic balance within itself to create living and thriving ecosystems.  TCM extrapolates these elemental truths to strengthen and reestablish thriving systems in the body as well.


Acupuncturists are primary health care physicians trained in the arts of traditional Chinese medicine.  They use a system of meridians, sometimes referred to as energy lines, in the body that network and guide the body’s Qi or life force energy.  The Qi of a person is what animates and motivates matter to live, grow and cycle.  An acupuncturist knows how to keep these channels and qi flow open.  With the subtle use of tiny needles, they can access specific acupuncture points within the meridians to remind and gently guide the qi back to balance and harmony.  In this way blockages that cause pain and disease are treated with minimal invasion and discomfort.

Proven Results

An advantage of such a long and tested legacy in medicine is the quality and safety produced with results.  Where as western or allopathic medicine is constantly breaking ground and implementing new treatments and medicines, TCM has a system that is proven to restore health and vitality without any of the negative

side effects commonly experienced with pharmaceuticals and other invasive procedures.  In addition, many new studies have been and are continuing to be conducted on TCM’s behalf.  Chemical breakdowns of herbal remedies and acupuncture’s physiological impacts on the body are one example of this.  In this way, TCM continues to be relevant to today’s health concerns and treatments.  It is an exciting time in modern health care as we are merging the best that all forms of medicine have to offer, and are able to gain greater insights into how to truly maximize health and wellness.   As integrative health care practitioners we are deeply grateful to be a part of this amazing body of shared knowledge and the opportunity to continue to create positive change in our patients and in our fields.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are the most commonly recognized treatments known to westerners, but the system of TCM is much more vast and inclusive than these modalities alone.  Because TCM treats the body as a whole, acupuncturists are very interested in other aspects of their patient’s lives such as diet, lifestyle and emotional mental health.  The foods you eat, the work you do and even the emotional states you experience all tell your acupuncturist much about your health history and conditions.  Although it might not seem that your headaches or elbow pain is related to anything else, you will be surprised just how much one aspect of your life affects another.  It is our joy to create a whole picture of your health and guide your body back to where it wants to be, healthy and full of life.

Common Ailments Treated:

Some of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved conditions that acupuncture effectively treats:

  • Allergic rhinitis/hay fever
  • Alcohol, tobacco and drug dependence and detox
  • Arthritis
  • Bell Palsy
  • Bronchial Asthma
  • Cancer pain/ treatment of adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radiation
  • Depression
  • Dysmenorrhea/ painful periods
  • Earache
  • Eye pain
  • Gastrickinetic disturbance
  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Hypertension & hypotension
  • Induction of labor
  • Insomnia
  • Knee pain
  • Morning sickness
  • Neck pain, back pain
  • Neuralgia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sciatica
  • Sprains
  • Stroke
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Urinary tract infection
WHO’s full list of conditions and illnesses


TCM Modalities


Acupuncture is the use of tiny needles inserted into the skin on specific anatomical acupoints.  The acupuncture needles used today are single-use sterile and only about as big as a thick hair.  Originally this practice dates as far back as 2,000 years ago where ancient texts cite the use of acupuncture instruments of primitive stone needles, bian stone, rolled over the skin for treating ailments and pain.

Today, the points of insertion are specific anatomical locations on the meridians or energy lines of the body.  These points are located over almost every area of the body.  The meridians form complex pathways and networks within the body.  They not only run along the surface where the points are located for needling, they delve deeper and branch with many connections to internal organs and paired meridians.  In this way the meridian system is much like the form and function of the nervous and circulatory systems of the body.  It can be explained as a sort of combination of the two systems, for instance it is said that Qi moves blood and blood nourishes Qi.  Qi is the motive force that pumps the heart and circulatory system, Qi is the force that travels like electricity throughout the nervous system.  Physiological testing shows that the insertion of acupuncture needles induces the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins.  It has also been shown to activate different areas of the brain depending on where the needles are placed.

Burning moxa on male patientMoxabustion

Moxa is a method that can be used with the conjunction of needles, or can be used to treat the patient without the use of needles.  Moxa refers to the herb Mugwort or artemisia verlotiorum, which is specially prepared and either used loose or rolled into a large stick like incense or a cigar and then burned to create warmth over specific areas or acupuncture points.  The herb, called Ai Ye in Chinese, has properties that make it especially useful for treating ailments such as painful arthritis, food and bowel stagnation, fatigue, muscle pain, and even helps to turn a breeched baby when applied with proper technique to the right sites.  In China and Japan some doctors are exclusively moxa masters, and only use this modality to treat their patients.


Vacuum cuppingCupping

This is a technique in where small glass or plastic cups are used to create suction over different areas of the body.  The skin is pulled up into the cups, which can either remain stationary or move over the skin.  This practice helps to move blood and create circulation in stagnant areas, relieving pain, arthritis, and other maladies.  It has been likened to having similar effects of a deep tissue massage.

Redness During Gua ShaGua Sha

The literal translation in Chinese is “sand scraping” and refers to the scraping of the skin with a rounded flat tool to create small spots of redness over the scraped area.  Gua Sha can range from pleasant feeling to slightly uncomfortable, depending on how much pressure the therapist is using and the area being treated.  It is effective for treating a number of conditions from muscle pain and old injury to improving lymph circulation and lessening the course of a cold or flu.

Facial Acupuncture

Experience the benefits of non-invasive acupuncture facials. This treatment increases circulation to your face, stimulates collagen growth and leaves your skin vibrant, full and glowing. Over time fine wrinkles, age spots and dark circles will disappear. We also offer acupuncture “face-lifts”. These treatments produce the best results when done in a series of 12-15 treatments once or twice a week.

Community Acupuncture

Working class acupuncture, removing the barriers to healthcare. The most effective type of acupuncture is the type that you receive on a regular basis. Community acupuncture is an opportunity to receive all the benefits of our regular acupuncture treatments at a fraction of the cost. In community acupuncture you will be in a larger room with other patients who are also getting treatment. The acupuncturist will spend about 15 minutes with you to get your chief complaint and administer your treatment. After that you are made comfortable and cozy while reclining in a zero gravity chair. Here you relax and perhaps take a nap until you are ready to leave. When you feel you are done with your treatment, just make eye contact or cough and the acupuncturist will come over to remove your needles.

We are often able to take walk in appointments with community acupuncture, or at least fit you in with short notice. Sliding scale of $15-40/hour.

Alternate Therapy zulumikenetHerbal Formulas

TCM sees herbal medicine as a fairly strong approach to counter disease and imbalance.  Herbs are used when diet and lifestyle are not enough to change a person’s pattern or health concern.  A formula is the precise combination of anywhere from two to twenty individual herbs.  These formulations demonstrate remarkable finesse and accuracy with what and how they treat.

Formulas usually follow a general outline that consists of: chief herb or herbs, deputy herbs and supporting herbs.  All the herbs in the formula act in harmonious ways with each other to produce safe, effective results that treat the underlying cause of the disease as well as the symptoms.

For example, for a patient with a cough and lots of mucus the chief herb in the formula will have the function of stopping the cough and clearing the mucus.  The deputy herb or herbs will often back up the chief herb and help stop cough but will also address other less prominent symptoms, perhaps fatigue or fuzzy headedness.  The supporting herbs are there to balance the entire formula so that there are no side effects.  In this example the supporting herbs might help to moisten tissues to mitigate the drying nature of the chief and deputy herbs.

Every Chinese herbal formulation has been carefully considered and balanced for the condition and the patient’s constitution.  Herbs are qualified not only by their effect produced on the body i.e. stop coughing, but also according to their nature.  It is in following and proscribing according to nature that makes Chinese herbal remedies so safe and effective.  In TCM, herbs and food as have warming or cooling qualities.  This is clear in cases like watermelon or pepper, one is very cooling and the other heat producing.  One you would like to eat after you get home from a snowball fight and the other you’d probably prefer on a hot day.

Herbs and foods are further categorized by their specific tastes: salty, sour, sweet, bland, spicy, and bitter.  These tastes belay the underlying nature of the food or herb and actually cause different reactions in our bodies.  Even more in depth, food and herbs also have proclivities to different internal organs and meridian channels in our bodies.   TCM has long studied and mapped out these wondrous effects of food and herbs on the human body, and tailors the preparation and formulation of herbal medicine to optimize health.


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