Monthly Archives: July 2014

TCM experiences

Usually when people think Traditional Chinese Medicine they think acupuncture and maybe some herbs. There are also more different kinds of treatment methods included in TCM and here is a bit of info about some of them.


Classical acupoint needling

old needles

Old acuneedles.

Lets start with the familiar one: Acupuncture. That means putting some needles on certain parts of your body to have some positive changes in your body. This usually includes analgesia, organ function adjustment and immune system modulation. Basically most important is the analgesic effect and there is some studies that support acupuncture usage in pain management. In 1979 WHO gave 43 indications for acupuncture and in 1997 it was changed to cover 67 conditions. This means that if you don’t feel that Western medicine helps you enough you can try acupuncture in ADDITION and it probably can help you. Still there is only 2 conditions which have strong evidence about acupuncture working: postoperative dental pain and postoperative nausea/vomiting. From other indications the evidense is relative not absolute.

Moxa or moxibustion is the second famous way of treating patients. When acupunctio is considered to be used when there is problems with exess of things, moxa is more about helping with deficiency. Moxa means burning herbs, usually mainly Mugwort, neas skin. It has temperature effects and also effect from the herbs (compound with 53 herbs), from the smoke and traditional moxa also has some far infrared effects.


Moxa with mugwort. Applied over acupoint.


Korean invention, small moxasticker.

Then there is cupping. There is cupping with fire and vacuum cupping. Never seen the fire one, but vacuum is pretty easy. This, like acupuncture and moxa is applied over acupoints to achieve what ever goals they want to achieve. I’m not actually that sure what it is for.. At least they use it for common cold and to make circulation better in the area. And for some muscle realxation too. I tried it to my elbow and it felt quite nice. I didn’t even get any bruising. Cups come in many sizes and it seems to depend on the doctor what they like to use.


Bigger cups for shoulders. Purpleish color indicates that the area was not that healthy. If color is just pink, the area is healthier.

In addition there is treatment with seven pointed needle (or something like that), scratching treatment and ear acutreatment (it is reflectory area for whole body). There is more than this and hopefully I will tell you more later. Disclaimer: In this text I write mostly from TCM’s point of view, not my own.


Scratching treatment for expelling the exess heat from the body. Good with heatstroke.

next day

One day after cupping and scratching.


Seven pointed star needle. Used to help with circulation, sometimes to draw blood but usually just lightly tapping. Used to treat hear loss.


Some basic equipments


Ear treatment sticker. Providing me with better spirit.

Yin & Yang

First times when I heard about Yin and Yang I thought that the system was unfair. Yin that is considered to be the feminine energy is also darkness, passiveness, weakness and destruction. Night, cold, silent.. Yang presents things that are maskuline, active, strong and so on. I thought that Yin presents all negative things and when connected to feminity I felt that someone is trying to make me feel less important. This was in my teen years. Now I realize that this is really not the case but only western thinking. We are used to think that there is good things and bad things and world is often too black and white. Now I have noticed that actually these are all worth the same. Nothing is more important or better than the other they are just pieces of the entirety. They are all necessary to keep the balance. If there is no passiveness and rest there could not be any activity either or the activity would burn you out. If there is no night there is no day either. These parts are not only parts of the big picture but they are all equally necessary.

For me it is strange to think that joy could be harmfull. But in TCM all thing if too extreme are actually harmfull to you. I actually think that is right. I have seen my friends get over excited and manic about things and that is totally not good. As it is not good to be too fearfull or too anxious. Follow the golden middle road as we say in Finland. Keep the balance.

Stories of Qi

We went to a hospital to see how some practitioners treat their patients in TCM outpatient clinic.With first doctor we saw many patients and he mainly used acupuncture to treat them. He was really fast and steady handed with the needles. I didn’t have any problems with the needles this time. This was interesting, but even more so was the next doctor. She had no patients at that time, so she started to tell us her own experiences and her point of view of stuff related to her profession.

She told us that some people can feel other persons Qi levels. Oh wait, I might need to tell you what Qi means. In TCM Qi is a kind of life energy that flows in every living thing. In humans it goes through meridians and if there is a problem in the flow of Qi we don’t feel that good. Acupoints are like gateways to regulate the flow of Qi and from them we can fix the problems of Qi flow. Of course there is more than this to Qi, but this is how I understand it. So back to the story..

Mainly these people are in professions where they help others, like doctors, nurses, massage therapists etc.Usually it is nessecary for these people to want to help others. If person has normal level of Qi there is no special feeling but if the Qi level is low then it feels like this person takes energy or Qi from persons close to them. If a persons Qi level is high then they give more energy to people around them too. I easily feel other peoples moods and I’m easily affected my them too. I have thought that I’m just really sensitive person, but according to this doctor it means that I can sense the Qi level of other. Cool..

The doctor also told us that sometimes there are ghosts or spirits around people or sometimes even inside some people. These spirits make the person they follow sick, but TCM doctor can release these spirits from the person. Sometimes this is simple and the spirits just leave but sometimes they attach to the doctor instead. Thats why people who are in a profession where they help other people, they need to practise Qi (like Tai Chi or Qigong) so that they can protect themselves from the spirits. If you are experienced in controlling your Qi, you can build shelter around you so that you are not so affected by forces from outside.

other students told me that here thay have a lot of news of doctors dying to the same disease they are treating. For them it means that the doctor has been affected by too many bad spirits of the same sort and so the doctor got the same problem and died. Like some heart surgeons die of an heart attack and so on. I also heard from other student that many people here believe in ghosts. I think that in Finland or in Europe not that many people believe in them. It is concidered a bit childish maybe.

It is facinating how different logic people have from each other. in the end I think words are just words and they are only a way to explain why things happen. To be different is not to be wrong nessecarily, not even if I don’t think the same way. And even if the story or the words are not “true” exactly the influence might be the same still. This is going to be so interesting.

First week of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our firs week of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) consisted of some basic classes. Topics like Meridians, acupoints, basic principles of acupuncture, Yin&Yang and five elements and so on. First it was a bit difficult to get into the mindsetting of TCM because it is not only medical practice, but it is build on cultural beliefs and religius stuff. The ideological background is borrowed from Taoism so Yin and Yang and five elements come from there.

Yin and Yang are really complex concepts. For example Yin is body and Yang is spirit, but in the body there is also different parts that are Yin and Yang. For example lower body is Yin and upper body Yang, heart is Yin and bladder is Yang. I noticed that in TCM concepts are often more abstract and have many things they refer to than in western thinking. We have strict rules in our logic and our terms have usually simple meanings. You can find the difference even in the language. For us words usually have some quite restricted meanings but in chinese even other people who speak the same language don’t always get the meaning of other because words can be so complex.

Some difficulties also come from TCM being so old. For example heart meridian is not really what western people think of a heart but rather has the function of the brain (but again, you can’t think only about the organs because it leaves out too much) and spleen meridian has the function what we westerners think to be the function of pancreas. All in all, if you think too much inside of western box of thinking, you will certainly miss out most of the stuff that is in TCM.

The main purpose for TCM is to strive for balance. Sickness is imbalance in your body, in your meridians or organs, problems of the mind like being sad, depressed or angry are also imbalance and is is curable by balancing out your problem areas. This can be done many ways: with acupuncture, herbs, acupressure, massage, lifechanges, exercise and so on. TCM is really quite holistic system. It is actually more like lifestyle than just medical treatment.

My personal opinion on the first week is complex. Because I have different belief system than TCM it is difficult for me to understand all the connections. Still I feel that maybe I can get something valuable to my own practice if I understand even a little bit of the ideology behind TCM. I already know that there is some areas that can help me improve my work, like knowledge of acupoints and their function in relaxation and pain relief. All in all this is really interesting and I already feel that I understand thid culture a bit better than before.

The magic of travelling

After three weeks of travelling in Japan and Hong Kong I came back to Taipei. I felt a bit dissapointed when I looked out of the bus window and felt nothing special. No special feelings, no excitement of awe of new things. Well there was no new things here so I guess it shouldn’t be surprise. Still, it was a bit of a surprise for me. I watched my familiar surroundings with a bit of a dull feeling until I got clores the university. Then I suddenly started feeling like coming back to home. That was odd and I wasn’t really expecting that. But when I saw the the golden light of setting sun on buildings down hill when I pushed my luggage uphill and bumped to some familiar faces waiting for my room key. It was like I never left. Okay, it was only for 3 weeks that I was gone, but it felt like a lifetime.

In Japan everything is so organized, clean and almost peacefull all the time and in Hong Kong I felt like being in a comletly different universe with all those high high buildings and amazing views.. Before I had a thought that all the places in Asia were similar to each other somehow, but as I spend more time here I notice how stupid idea that has been. Every place has their own athmosphere and specialities. Those things that make you even like it or hate it or both. In Japan I love gardens but I don’t like how people can’t communicate in English. I love how easy it is to find new things in a big city and feel that nature is close even though all those millons of people. I love how I start to recognize places in anime and notice familiarity where there was oddity before. In Hong Kong I love the tall buildings and light at night. I don’t like how people don’t act considerate in MTR.

In Taiwan I love so many things and I feel that all the time those things multiply. There is some things I don’t like here, for example that people can’t use public toilets properly and there is always a huge mess or that every time there is a map they have turned it to other way around than in the place I saw the same map before.

Now I have my room organized and I am feeling positive about my summer school. Only four weeks left and then I have to get back to the reality called Finland.