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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Basics and Getting TCM Therapies on a Budget

by Paul Fassa
See all TBYIL articles by Paul Fassa

(The Best Years in Life) Progressive researchers of western modern medicine are beginning to catch on to the idea that there is some sort of subtle quasi-electrical energy that runs human body systems. Another pioneering effort in western modern medicine has been connecting certain diseases or organ dysfunctions to emotions.

Both of these areas have been heavily explored and empirically established by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a few thousand years. Here are a few TCM basics, with some suggestions later in the article on how to take advantage of TCM's therapeutic and healing wisdom on a budget.

TCM Basics for Beginners

Basic to TCM is the notion of healing the body, or creating balance and harmony with all organs while retaining them. The whole language and approach of TCM is different than western medicine's totally biological and biochemical systems approach. The practice of removing organs to promote health, even a gall bladder, is repugnant to TCM practitioners. They work on restoring that organ's qi or chi (pronounced chee) energy.

But what is chi? It is a subtle energy that is beyond body tissue but operates it. Stagnant or blocked qi (chi) must be addressed to restore strong and balance chi energies. Mainstream medical technology doesn't perceive it or understand, but TCM recognizes three basic types of chi.

We are born with ancestral chi (qi). That's our foundational wellspring which is sometimes tapped into or eroded. Then there's post-natal chi, that which we obtain from our diet, exercise, and our environment. We can directly influence that. Then there's protective chi that flows around the body at the surface. These are essential for the body's operation and must be balanced for homeostasis.

Each organ has its own chi as well. Most are familiar with the terms yin and yang, female and male aspects of universal creation, which are also reflected in all chi energies. Diagnosis involves pulse reading, an art that enables an experienced practitioner to detect even future health problems, and examining features of the tongue most of us are not aware of.

TCM recognizes digestion as the root of good or bad health, another aspect of health that has only recently been slightly probed in the West. The two treatment modalities of TCM are herbs and acupuncture. There have been many studies on how well TCM herbs work for even serious diseases, see the sources below.

The herbs are tried and true and have been for centuries. It's only recently that Chinese herbs have undergone the so called golden standard of medical trials of western medicine, double-blind random testing, which is to a large degree ensuring minimal poisoning from pharmaceuticals. The main purpose of TCM trials is to prove TCM's efficacy to our arrogant medical system.

Acupuncture streamlines treatments for any health issues one has. Chi (qi) pathways have been mapped out as chi (energy) meridians over the millennia.  Acupuncture needle placements adjust and/or unblock those meridians to balance, moderate, and free chi energy to flow harmoniously throughout the body.


Traditional Chinese Medicine on a Budget

Most Chinese medicine doctors have the title Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM). They charge an initial consultation fee that lessens once you start herbal treatments. Traditional DOMs prescribe raw herbs they have in store, and you're expected to brew them as teas in a clay pot which can be purchased from them.

Weekly or bi-weekly, the inexpensive herbs are adjusted according to a patient's progress. Perhaps once a month you may be required to have another visit for the DOM to read your pulse and examine your tongue. These consultations rarely require outside lab work or unwieldy office equipment. So they're cheap.

Some DOMs specialize in brewing their own herbal extract concoctions and selling them inexpensively each time your pulse and tongue are examined, usually after finishing each round of herbal extracts.

Acupuncture is a booster rocket for TCM's herbal remedies, and can even suffice as a stand-alone protocol. But it's pricier. Usually $50.00 or more for a session that gets you a solid hour or more under the needles.

Most oriental medicine acupuncture schools are set up to obtain at least an acupuncturist certificate ((L.Ac.). They offer student sessions monitored by DOM teachers, and they are cheap at $15 to $20 per session. These schools usually have a pharmacy of herbal medicines to compliment your acupuncture or use without the needles.

Problem is, those schools are more concerned with teaching and producing professional acupuncturists and DOMs than following up on your case. And their sessions are usually set at 20 minutes or so. But an acupuncture revolution was started in Oregon and has spread throughout North America, a sort of grass roots people's acupuncture arrangement.

It's called the People's Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA), and they have clinics located in many areas throughout North America. The clinics have an honor system sliding scale starting at $15 to $20. Each acupuncturist is at least an L.Ac (licensed acupuncturist). And they also sell prepared TCM patent herbal medicines.

You can enjoy hour long or more sessions under the needles in a group setting with reclining “Lazy-Boy” type chairs. But all that needs to be exposed in this setting are your arms and hands, lower legs and feet, your face and head, and the upper most area of you chest. Almost everyone falls asleep restfully under the needles. You can see if there's a Community Acupuncture Clinic near you here (

See also:

Two Chinese Herbs for Cold and Flu Season


TCM studies and trials -
Chi talk -
Community Acupuncture site with clinic locations -


About the author:

Paul Fassa started looking into natural health to overcome his unhealthy lifestyle. Then he developed more interest as he researched his articles for Natural News and Align Life.

He is amazed at the ignorance of natural medicine and how beneficial foods and herbs are constantly ignored or vilified in order to promote toxic foods and meds by Big Pharma, the FDA, USDA, and the AMA, what he likes to call the "Medical Mafia".

His blog is - "Healthmaven: Escape from the Medical Mafia Matrix." His Natural News articles can be reviewed here:



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