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A Beginners Guide To Traditional Chinese Medicines

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient and holistic system of health and healing, based on achieving a state of harmony and balance by employing the ideas of moderation and prevention. It is one of the oldest complete forms of healthcare with its own unique theories of anatomy, health and treatment, emphasizing diet and prevention through acupuncture, herbal medicines, massage and exercise.

A core belief of TCM is that the body's vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels called meridians, that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions. The focus is on the stimulation of the body's own curative powers.

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, we've pulled together a guide to the most popular TCMs so you can identity the right one for you. 

Yin Yang

In Chinese philosophy all of creation is born from the marriage of two polar principles, Yin and Yang; opposite forces whose interaction is thought to maintain the harmony of the universe. Yin and yang are in pairs and cannot live without the other, such as earth and heaven, winter and summer, night and day... baobab and moringa. The round black and white symbol of ying and yang represents the connection between the two via a circular harmony.  In traditional Chinese medicine good health is directly related to the balance between yin and yang qualities within the body, and the aim is to restore harmony through the use of acupuncture, herbs and foods that sustain health.

Acupuncture

Based on ancient principles and traditions, acupuncture is a form of Chinese Medicine that aims to balance the flow of energy in the body. The focus of acupuncture is on the individual and their body and not on their illness specifically, as all symptoms are seen in relation to the harmony of the body. Acupuncturists insert tiny needles into specific points on the energy channels (meridians) of the body, to promote healing and good ‘chi’ levels. It is used to treat many conditions including muscular pain, headaches, asthma, gynaecological problems, digestive complaints, as well as anxiety and depression.

Ginseng

Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world. The herb is famed for its medicinal properties and has traditionally been taken to aid a number of ailments. The Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng), has been used for thousands of years, namely in the mountains of Manchuria, China, for its rejuvenating powers. Legend also has it that the early emperors used it as a remedy for all illnesses. Nowadays, ginseng can be taken in many forms including powders, capsules and tea.

Chi Kung

Qi Gong (often spelt Chi Kung) has been practised for centuries by millions of people in China. Its practices can be categorised as martial, medical or spiritual and include breathing techniques, mental focus and exercises to improve posture. This powerful form of health exercise helps to strengthen your entire body and helps to heal various chronic and acute injuries and illnesses. With the aim to harmonise, strengthen and heal the bodily systems and organs, Qi Gong helps to increase the flow and amount of energy throughout the body, leading to rejuvenating effects as well as creating a relaxed mental and emotional state. According to Chinese medicine, stretching your arms and legs in a particular way helps to circulate the energy related to the body’s internal organs.

Matcha Green Tea

We've all heard of green tea and it’s benefits, however just one glass of matcha tea compares to 10 glasses of green tea. Matcha is 100% natural, organic green tea leaves packed with essential vitamins & minerals. The carefully ground powder is commonly used by Buddhist monks to make a beverage, helping them to stay alert, awake and focused during long sessions of mediation. Unlike regular green tea where the highly nutritious leaves are thrown away, Matcha tea allows you to ingest the entire leaf by easily diffusing the powder into liquids. 

Tai Chi 

Tai chi, also known as Tai Chi Chuan, was first developed in 13th century China and is now practised all over the globe due to it’s health benefits. As a popular method for self-development, it merges the most refined medical, meditative and martial expertise. With a combination of slow and gentle movements to promote relaxation and breathing exercises, tai chi can help reduce stress, improve balance as well as increasing muscle strength in your legs.

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