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Traditional Chinese Medicine

This ancient holistic treatment aims to heal not just physical symptoms, but to balance one's yin with one's yang.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: May 18, 2020

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seeks to balance the energy in the body. TCM originated in China and its tenets may have been in place more than 5,000 years ago.

Benefits Of Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to TCM, the energy in the body—and the world—is divided into two codependent halves, yin and yang. Yin energy is dense and wet, while yang energy is light and hollow. Some body parts are considered yin, others yang. Another concept vital to TCM is the idea of qi (sometimes spelled chi). Qi is the energy and lifeforce of the body. It travels along meridians, or lines in the body. Many TCM treatments are dedicated to unblocking and increasing the flow of qi. Some common TCM treatments for unblocking qi include acupuncture, moxibustion, gua sha, tui na and cupping.

What To Expect

Your TCM therapist will first examine you by taking your pulse, looking at your tongue, your skin and your posture. These all provide clues to your health. You will also discuss your medical issues. The TCM practitioner may then recommend a mix of acupuncture, tui na, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, or medicinal herbs.

Recommended sessions: The number of sessions depends on the condition to be treated (acute versus chronic) and the response of the patient to the treatment.

Preparation: Do not eat for four hours before treatment. Wear loose clothing that allows good access to the knees and elbows, as these are frequent targets for acupuncture needles.


Traditional Chinese Medicine, like any form of medicine, should be practiced by a qualified practitioner. Risks include skin or blood infections and nerve damage from needles during acupuncture, scarring from gua sha and burns from moxibustion.

Who wouldn't benefit: Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used to treat a variety of ailments and medical issues, ranging from asthma to insomnia to muscular and skeletal pain to infertility. It should be considered a supplement for Western medicine, rather than a replacement for it. For example, it may ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis , but should not replace Western drugs and visits to the hospital.

Celebrity Devotees

Acupuncture has been widely used among the celebrity set. Well-known devotees include Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Celine Dion and Cher. Mariah Carey credits acupuncture with allowing her to conceive her twins. Cherie Blair, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, is fond of auricular acupuncture.

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