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TCM Myths, Busted!

TCM Myths, Busted!

What is the Basis of TCM?

The goal of TCM is to reestablish the flow of Qi, the vital energy or life force of a person. Qi maintains balance in the body and keeps the organs functioning. If the Qi is deficient or blocked, it can lead to a variety of physical and mental ailments, from migraines and insomnia to muscle stiffness and indigestion. A person’s Qi can be affected by external factors like weather, environmental toxins and pathogens and internal factors like emotions and imbalances between the organs.

TCM is based on ancient theories such as the concept of the wholeness (organs are interconnected), yin-yang and the five elements theory. These provide guidance for healthy living and balance, not just disease treatment.

TCM uses a whole body approach. Based on a careful assessment and diagnosis of the patient, the doctor formulates a treatment plan, using various treatment methods including herbal remedies and acupuncture.

TCM Treatments

Acupuncture (针灸 zhēnjiū) involves applying small acupuncture needles to certain points along the meridians (where Qi flows between organs) and tissues to release tension, pain and blockages.

Tuina deep tissue massage (推拿按摩 tuīná ànmó), cupping* (拔火罐 bá huo guàn),  scraping (刮痧 guāshā) and moxibustion (艾灸 ài jiū) all help release the stagnation of Qi. They aim to stimulate the body’s own healing process and address the patient’s specific weaknesses.

*For more information, read about Cupping in our TCM Treatments Series. Follow us on WeChat for an upcoming article answering common questions about Cupping and find out why it is so popular, especially during winter.

Herbal medicine (草药疗法 caoyào liáofa) is used to strengthen the immune system naturally and cure with few side effects. There are more than 1000 herbs commonly used in TCM and each individual combination has its own characteristics and effects. Herbs come from plants, minerals and insects.

Chinese Food Therapy goes hand-in-hand with TCM treatment. The ancient Chinese wisdom of eating seasonally and living in sync with nature helps keep the body strong. According to the Chinese food science, every food item has an impact on the Qi in our body. Food can improve or inhibit the flow of Qi and regulate the body temperature.

TCM Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

  1. TCM doesn’t work for acute diseases.

Sometimes people think TCM can only treat pain. TCM is highly effective for seasonal and acute illness, such as headaches, colds, allergies, and digestive problems. It is used for various internal medicine diseases, skin problems, psychological and gynecological disorders. It can be used to fight infection and inflammation.

  1. It takes a long time to see results with TCM.

Patients can feel a difference immediately or at least within three days for acute conditions. For prevention or chronic conditions, it might take one month.

  1. TCM has no side effects.

Any treatment can have side effects and interactions with other treatments. Many modern pharmaceuticals originate from herbs. It is important to tell your doctors about all Western medications, TCM treatments, herbs and vitamins that you’re taking on a regular basis.

  1. TCM can cure cancer.

TCM can provide support for healing from cancer and many illnesses. However, a responsible practitioner will not advise you to stop Western medical treatment for cancer. TCM is effective for dealing with cancer treatment side effects such as nausea, fatigue, lack of motivation, digestive issues, etc.

  1. TCM has no scientific evidence.

TCM is drawn from experience spanning thousands of years, whereas Western medicine goes as far back as a couple hundred years. There have now been numerous studies done by Western medical institutions and publications showing evidence for TCM treatments. Many famous hospitals have opened complimentary medical departments and regularly use Eastern medicine for patient healing. The Beijing TCM Research Center and various research institutions in China have amassed many years of scientific studies.

Suffering from pain, chronic health issues, migraine or insomnia? Curious about TCM? Try any TCM treatment for yourself in a safe, cozy environment and find out how it can benefit your health. Contact Body & Soul to schedule a session at one of Body & Soul’s four centers in Shanghai.

Have friends in Shanghai who’d like to know more about TCM? Share this post and invite them to follow Body & Soul’s account as we will be sharing more TCM insights in our next posts.


Doris Rathgeber
TCM Doctor & Founder of Body & Soul – Medical Clinics

With more than 20 years of experience as a TCM Doctor and internal medicine specialist, Doris treats a vast array of acute and chronic diseases by expertly combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine. She also hast extensive experience addressing women’s issues as well as infertility problems.