What is Oriental Medicine?

Oriental medicine is a system of healthcare that seeks to treat the whole person, as all holistic health methods do. Balancing the mind, body and spirit, Eastern medicine therapies like acupuncture, herbal medicine, acupressure, Tuina, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) applications have been in existence before the dawn of modern civilization. A matter of fact, Oriental medicine predates the birth of Christ by nearly 5,000 years.

In addition to nutritional counseling, modern Oriental medicine practitioners commonly use a combined variety of natural healing therapies including acupuncture, Tai Chi, moxibustion, cupping, and Chinese herbal medicine, among others, when treating patients.

Acupuncture in Oriental medicine is based on the foundation that the body contains meridians; also known as energy channels. These meridians have "acupoints" that control the flow of "chi," or life energy. The theory behind this Asian medicine technique is that by inserting fine, hair-like needles into these acupoints, underlying pathologies (of health conditions) can be relieved. How? The philosophy is that needle insertion (at respective acupoints) removes blockages, and allow the Chi to flow freely and unobstructed throughout the meridians. This, in part, balances the life force and is believed to restore health and balance to the body.

A unique form of acupuncture that some Oriental medicine doctors administer is auriculotherapy. This particular needling technique involves the insertion of acupuncture needles along the meridians of the outer ear. Acupuncturists, who provide this treatment are often specially trained and certified for this procedure.

Oriental medicine practitioners may also treat patients with moxibustion or cupping therapies. In moxibustion, the herb "mugwort," or moxa is used. This herbal medicine is ground and burned, and applied at acu-points; or at the tips of acupuncture needles. This natural medicine is intended to warm these regions and to stimulate better circulation of Chi.

Cupping in Oriental medicine is a therapy whereby a cup (or cups) is applied to the skin as a vacuum. For instance, heat or flames are often briefly applied to the inside of the cup(s) and quickly placed upon the skin. This creates a vacuum-like suction upon the skin. Chinese medicine practitioners may slide the cup from one acu-point to another to promote healing and pain relief. This technique is known simply as "gliding."

Oriental medicine doctors may also prescribe Tai Chi and Qigong as a natural health exercise to patients. As a slow-motion, martial art, Tai Chi is known for its stress-reducing affects. In addition, it is a great way to improve balance and to gain increased flexibility and range of motion in joints and muscles. Qigong is commonly integrated with Tai Chi as a breathing exercise to improve and maintain health.

As with any health practitioner, it is important to check the credentials of the prospective Oriental medicine doctor. Acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners should be licensed to practice in the State where they reside. To attain licensure, many States require these practitioners to be certified with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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What is Oriental Medicine?
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