Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) is an integrated system of primary healthcare that has a history tracing back thousands of years. TCM practitioners treat and prevent disease using a combination of methods to treat the body as a whole. The aim is to find the cause of a problem instead of just treating the symptoms.
They use modalities such as:
- Herbal medicine
- Diet therapy
Acupuncture is an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was developed over the last two millennia and is one of the oldest health practices in the world. It works by placing sterile stainless steel needles in specific points on the body. The stimulation of these points produces a response within the body. With the right selection of points, the practitioner can help to relieve many conditions.
Acupuncture is an effective and affordable mode of healthcare with minimal side effects. Although there is no scientific theory that can explain the effects of acupuncture, the World Health Organization conducted an in depth review and analysis of controlled clinical trials in 2003. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved (through controlled trials) to be an effective treatment include:
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
- Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
- Biliary colic
- Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
- Dysentery (acute bacillary)
- Dysmenorrhoea, primary
- Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
- Hypertension, (essential and primary)
- Low back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain
- Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
- Renal colic
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Herbal medicine can effectively treat a range of health conditions in a natural way. It helps to:
- maintain health
- improve wellbeing
- prevent sickness
It also keeps the immune system strong and strengthens normal body functions.
Herbal therapies are suitable for conditions such as: allergies, stress, common cold, Fatigue, high blood pressure, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, gynaecological problems, musculoskeletal conditions and urogenital disorders.
Many people think of massage as a touchy-feely or purely for relaxation, but in reality Manual Medicine, which massage falls under, is one of the most ancient healing modalities. Also, it is easily one of the most sustainable forms of medicine available.
History of massage
Massage in its various forms has been noted by historians and used by people for its healing
effects for as long as there has been civilisation. Ever heard of the ‘power of touch’? This philosophy of treatment, where touch is applied to the patient using oils, aromatics, various tools, or just with the hands in specific patterns, has been used as far back as the ancient Chinese in an treatment form called “Amma” or “Anma”.
Today Chinese medicine uses a form of massage called Tui Na. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote in 460 BC “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing” a reference to the importance of manual therapies even in the ancient world.
Benefits of massage
Throughout the millennia, as people have discovered more and more about the human body, manual therapies have evolved and specialised. Massage itself takes on many forms, names, and intents depending on the country of origin, who taught it, and even the practitioner. However, no matter what the purpose of the treatment, the focus of all massage is the soft and connective tissues of the body.
The main tissue treated is muscle and the musculoskeletal system, which is the largest system in the body. Other tissues worked with are tendons, ligaments, fascia, joints, cartilage, and even some organs. The body has an innate ability to heal itself – the goal is to promote this ability.
Another main effect of massage is its down regulation of the sympathetic (fight/flight) nervous system allowing for proper rest and recovery.
Light and relaxing massage has been shown to improve circulation and lymph drainage decrease hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety and depression. This facilitates the healing abilities of the body and works very well in conjunction with other modalities and treatment options.
Deeper massage is shown to loosen muscle, break up tendon and ligament adhesions, which helps with proper healing of wounds through aligning scar tissue and removing restrictions. Massage is a great option to speed the healing process after a major surgery or accident.
Purpose of massage
The goal of massage treatments is to remove restrictions of all sorts. Restrictions and damage to the soft tissues, which can be helped by massage and other manual therapies, can be the cause of much pain and restriction of movement in the body.
The body has an innate ability to heal itself – the goal is to promote this ability by finding the cause of the problem and removing it, or improving function to better deal with permanent injury.
Remedial Massage, also know as Orthopaedic Massage, as the name implies is about finding a remedy (remedial=remedy) for your pain. Working with a detailed assessment process, which is Osteopathic in origin, this branch of Manual Therapy looks for the root cause of the pain. It works holistically by treating the cause or underlying dysfunction to allow the person to heal fully, not just cover the pain.
Practitioners will commonly provide home care advice, and exercises to help the patient improve even without direct treatment.
Massage treatment techniques
Treatment techniques used are dependent on the diagnosis by the practitioner. Techniques may include:
- Massage (Relaxation/Swedish Techniques)
- Muscle Manipulation
- Compressions (similar to Acupressure or Shiatsu)
- Trigger Point Release (for ‘knots’)
- Joint Mobilizations (for join dysfunction, similar in purpose to Chiropractic)
- Myofascial Dry Needling
Sustainability of massage
All it takes for the basic forms of treatment is one person who knows what they are doing. Treatments can be done sitting, standing, or lying down. Traditional Shiatsu still uses just a thin mat on the ground and oils can be used but are not necessary.
Massage can be taught easily by someone knowledgeable and is easily practiced once you know the basics. Even the most inexperienced therapist can improve circulation and healing time simply by just giving the skin a rub.
On the other hand, a skilled practitioner can work with very complicated conditions, such as dysfunction in the diaphragm and joint degeneration. One practitioner can teach a class and have them working to clear oedema and improve limb circulation in under a month, while decreasing pain, and providing relaxation and relief in those with more serious conditions.
Some conditions that can be treated, or improved with massage techniques are:
- Neurological symptoms
- Lower back pain
- Disc prolapse
- Joint pain
- Acute pain
- Restricted movement
- Scar tissue
- Repetitive Strain Injury
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Frozen Shoulder
- Digestive upset
- General pain relief
Massage in Traditional Healthcare clinics
Massage will be a very important tool in Traditional Healthcare clinics as it is a modality that lends itself to be easily taught and used with very little resources, and has a quick turn-over of students who can practice in a basic method very quickly.