Thought Traditional Chinese Medicine was all about swilling special concoctions and get stabbed with needles? Then think again!
Originating thousands of years ago, it’s actually a holistic approach to health that includes diet therapy, herbal therapy, qi gong or meditation, feng shui, exercise, tui na (medical massage) and acupuncture.
To help sort fact from fiction, I’ve invited Amy O’Brien; a Chinese Herbalist, Acupuncturist and Health Advocate from Perth to guest post on Checks and Spots. Amy passionate about using the tools of Chinese Medicine to create big and beautiful change, and finding ways to integrate her knowledge of ancient medicines into our modern times for more whole, vibrant and fabulous health.
Busting 6 Common Myths about Traditional Chinese Medicine
1. Acupuncture hurts.
When people think about acupuncture they associate it with the needles used for taking blood or getting injections. But, they are actually tiny and literally the same thickness as a strand of human hair.
The typical response from a first experience of acupuncture: ‘Oh, is that all?’ or ‘Is the needle already in?’ coupled by the surprise and elation that ‘that didn’t hurt at all!’
Most people don’t believe it can be so painless until they try it for themselves.
Acupuncture doesn’t feel anything like that you expect it to. You may feel a little tingling, heaviness, or a dull awareness around the area.
Nothing scary at all.
2. Chinese Herbs are crazy things like bear’s gallbladder.
It’s true that in times gone by there have been some pretty interesting ingredients used in Chinese Medicine. Not so today though. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with the most commonly used Chinese herbs – think ginger, cinnamon, peppermint, goji berries and licorice root.
So, thankfully, bears keep their gallbladders and your herbs contain roots and barks like cinnamon and licorice. There’s also an Endangered Species Certification Scheme in Australia to educate people in the industry about the legal requirements associated with international wildlife trade.
If you already see or are planning to see a Chinese herbalist, feel free to ask what’s in your mix – it’s really interesting!
3. Chinese Medicine is unregulated and dodgy.
Chinese Medicine is nationally regulated in Australia by the same governing body that oversees GPs, chiros, physios, psychologists and other medical professions. And it’s actually pretty hard to study Chinese Medicine. In fact, it takes around 5 years of full-time study to receive a qualification.
You’ll find a nationally registered practitioner in your area by searching here.
4. You have to be Chinese to practice Chinese Medicine.
This is, thankfully, also not true.Especially for me – since my last name is O’Brien, I’m 5’8” and have very pale skin!
I’ve actually found that learning Chinese Medicine through a Western lens of perspective has been amazingly helpful.
5. Chinese Medicine is only for bad backs and shoulder pain.
Chinese Medicine is great for bad backs and shoulder pain, but equally as fabulous for more internal and chronic diseases and symptoms.
As the primary health care system in China for thousands of years, Chinese Medicine has treatment strategies for conditions like insomnia, anxiety, period pain, fertility, digestive symptoms, fatigue, respiratory and skin conditions, poor circulation, migraines, dizziness, headaches, you name it. If you’re unsure, call or email a practitioner to ask.
6. There is no research to back up Chinese Medicine.
Throughout Asia, Europe, America and here in Australia more and more research is being conducted into the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. You can find links to research covering a broad range of common conditions and symptoms on my website.