Alternative medicine is any form of medical practice that does not base itself on scientific methods, but instead relies on what we would call ‘spiritual beliefs’ and the use of therapies and practices which directly, or indirectly, clash with scientific findings. It is what you’d call traditional medicine – the medical practices which ranged from witchcraft to the divinations of the past. A particular category within this is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a medical practice which has over 2,500 years of history within it.
Traditional Chinese medicine in Auckland is simply based on one basic foundation – the concept of ‘qi’ (i.e. also called ‘chi’). This can be translated as ‘vital energy’ and is basically some form of spiritual energy believed by the Chinese to reside in our bodies. This qi circulates our body in a much similar fashion to blood in the circulatory system; it does this through the channels which are called as ‘meridians’. The Chinese believe that the imbalance, or the improper circulation of qi is the main cause behind illness, and traditional Chinese medicine attempts to rectify this imbalance through five main practices: • Herbal medicine – as the name suggests, this is a method of therapy which uses many different kinds of Chinese herbs and plants. However, it also makes use of animal, human and mineral products in its concoctions. It is used to cure many diseases, ranging from haemorrhoids to acute pancreatitis.
• Acupuncture – this is the famous therapy which involves the insertion of thin needles into the body at points which are called ‘acupuncture points’ (which the Chinese believe are 500 points in total). The therapy is used to cure stress, pain relief, infertility and many other maladies.
• Tui na (Massage) – also known as ‘tuina’, this is often used. It consists of massaging certain pressure points of the body to relieve many musculoskeletal conditions.
• Qigong (Exercise) – the most prominent comparison to qigong would be yoga, which you might be familiar with (or even be a practitioner of). Like yoga, qigong consists of relaxation, meditation and exercise to promote the healthiness of the body and the mind.
• Dietary therapy – this is basically something like adhering to a prescribed diet for a specified period of time. Unlike a normal diet, this will consist mainly of various types of Chinese foods.
While traditional Chinese treatment has often been under the scrutiny of many scientific groups for its unscientific basis, there are still many cases of its efficacy in curing many various kinds of illnesses and conditions; thus, it has spread well beyond China and it is used as a form of alternative medicine throughout the world.