Traditional Chinese Medicine
Southern Pines, NC                       Drake Criswell, D.T.C.M., Lic. Ac.                     910-693-7905

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Traditional Chinese Medicine
There are endless sources of information and documentation regarding acupuncture and herbal therapy; when and where it first began, and its application. For the purposes of this website, and in an effort to keep things simple, we shall address Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete system of health care that began in China approximately 3,000 years ago. It encompasses all therapies in its understanding, most commonly, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage and stretching techniques. TCM most always include other elements such as diet, nutrition, exercise, environmental balance, breathing exercise and lifestyle choices. TCM treats the whole person by acknowledging that there is a vital life force that flows though all things. This life force is commonly referred to by practitioners as Qi (pronounced "chee", and translates as energy or a life force). Qi flows along the pathways of the human body. It is this flow of energy which allows humans to think, talk, walk and show emotion. The primary focus of TCM is to keep the Qi flowing in a balanced, regular pattern throughout the body. When the flow of Qi is unimpeded, the human body functions in a harmonious, balanced environment which in turn brings about good health. When the balance of energy is upset, the flow of Qi becomes "stuck" or "blocked". This upset may be caused by many elements, such as trauma, poor diet, medications, stress, genetic predisposition, or emotional state. Through the use of TCM, the practitioner will focus on correcting these flow obstructions to create a more harmonious body of energy, which promotes the body's ability to heal itself.

Acupuncture, specifically, has been documented as having been used for the treating and prevention of illness for over 20 centuries. In TCM it is an essential tool used to remedy ailment of pain or illness. Through the use of fine, hair-like, sterilized and disposable needles a practitioner determines specific point along the pathways of the body. He then safely and painlessly inserts the needles which serve to unblock the "stuck" flow of Qi. In TCM, there are over 2,000 acupoints on the human body. Each point serves one of 14 meridian pathways which travel through the body and serve a specific organ system. By "tapping" into these points, the practitioner is able to energize the stagnant flow of energy, or discharge the overly active area, which is causing you discomfort. Let's look at stress for example. In simply terms, think of your body as an electrical appliance, say a lamp. The lamp has all of the necessary components to work, and the source of external energy is that of an electrical outlet. However, if the cord which plugs into the wall outlet has a cut or is frayed, the energy will not flow throughout the wiring of the lamp and thus becomes stagnated and ceases to function properly. Acupuncture works along the same premise. It's more complex than this example, but this should give you a diagram of what your practitioner is trying to accomplish. His mission is to bring the body to a point of balance so all organs and energy paths can function harmoniously. Acupuncture techniques vary, but the most common forms may consist of any of the following techniques: Moxabustion (heat), Gua Sha (scraping), Cupping (suction), Auricular Therapy (ear acupuncture), electrical or laser stimulation, or manual manipulation of the points. Each technique can often produced a different sensation for the patient, however in most cases the patient will only experience a sense of tingling or warmth.

Ancient Chinese Herbs
Also a key vehicle of healing in TCM is Ancient Chinese Herbs. Ancient Chinese herbal formulas have been used for over 2,000 years and are gaining in popularity throughout the United States as an effective means of healing, without the serious side effects often caused by conventional pharmaceutical treatment. Most formulas may consist of two to twenty different types of herbs. Each specifically designed to treat specific ailments. With the aid of modern technology, herbal formulas are now sold in many different forms. They may come in the form of a pill, capsule, granule, or tincture. Often these form variations are designed to make the herbs easier, and sometime more palatable, to take. Remember, herbs taken in the proper dosage, under the supervision of a qualified professional, are safe and effective. If you are taking a specific herb which is being sited in the media as helpful for what ails you, always seek the advice of a qualified professional before consumption. And as with any medications/vitamin/herb, advise your doctor of what you are taking.

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