Introduction to Chinese Traditional Medicine
Susa Tyrniluoto | Practitioner of Chinese traditional medicine, Art therapy facilitator, Visual artist
Philosophy of Chinese Traditional Medicine
Chinese Traditional Medicine Massage, also known as tuina or acupressure massage, may not differ technically from classical massage, but it primarily targets specific points in the body known as acupoints. Acupoints are believed to have the potential to affect broader areas of the body according to the principles of Chinese philosophy. Hundreds of acupoints have been identified, located throughout the body.
The methods of Chinese Traditional Medicine have been developed and tested over thousands of years and are still used alongside modern medicine. However, it is essential to approach all these methods critically, as not all of them have scientifically recognized effectiveness.
It is important to note that the philosophy of Chinese Traditional Medicine is not religious in the sense of endorsing any particular religious belief system. While it does not deny the possibility of a god or cosmic force, these entities are not considered to have any impact on diagnosis or treatment.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, the idea of healing through prayer is not supported. Instead, the methods are based on centuries of tested practices, including massage, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Diet is also seen as a significant aspect of health maintenance and treatment.
I will introduce some key concepts used in the philosophy of Chinese Traditional Medicine.
Yin Yang is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy, which states that everything has two complementary aspects. For example, in a coin placed on a table, the upper side represents Yang, while the lower side represents Yin. If the coin is flipped, the new upper side becomes Yang, and the lower side becomes Yin. Thus, the Yin Yang concept is always in relation to each other and not tied to any specific object.
Yin does not exclusively represent the feminine, nor does Yang represent the masculine, as often misconceived. According to Chinese Traditional Medicine, every individual embodies both Yin and Yang aspects.
In pairs of opposites, the Yin Yang concept can be easily applied. For instance, in the pair of up/down, up represents Yang, and down represents Yin. In the pair of cold/hot, cold is Yin, and hot is Yang.
For instance, in the case of a fever, it could be seen as an excessive Yang condition in the body. However, a fever may also arise due to weakness in the Yin aspect if it fails to cool the body adequately. Treatment methods will vary depending on the diagnosis – for excessive Yang, reducing body heat is the focus, while for Yin deficiency, strengthening the Yin aspect is essential.
Many foods and beverages can also be categorized using the Yin Yang concept. For example, alcohol, tobacco, and coffee are examples of substances that strengthen the Yang condition. Excessive consumption of these substances can lead to heat in the stomach, among other effects. To counter excessive heat, reducing the intake of these substances could be employed.
Yin deficiency, on the other hand, can be a result of insufficient fluid intake, leading to headaches. In this case, Yin fails to adequately cool the Yang aspect. The treatment would involve increasing fluid intake.
Yin can sometimes manifest as an excess, and Yang can manifest as a deficiency, and vice versa.
Yin Yang concept is a crucial part of the diagnostic process in Chinese Traditional Medicine.
I have further developed the Yin Yang concept to include a temporal dimension, as I believe that everything also involves an aspect of time. To represent this idea, I have created a new symbol called Yin Yang Yuan, which incorporates the notion of evolution and continuous change. While the traditional Yin Yang perceives only the alternation of two opposing forces, I aspire to contribute to the further development of Chinese Traditional Medicine philosophy.
The above image: Susa Tyrniluoto, Yin Yang Yuan, 2008.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In traditional Chinese medicine, diagnosis involves observing various factors, such as the shape, color, and coating of the tongue. These aspects are believed to provide insights into conditions such as body temperature (cold or hot), digestion, and the state of internal organs.
Another crucial aspect of diagnosis is pulse reading, done on both wrists. The pulse can reveal information about stress, fatigue, and overall well-being. In China, students of traditional Chinese medicine often spend years studying pulse reading, as its subtle nuances can offer comprehensive insights into bodily functions.
A vital part of the diagnosis is the client interview, which includes discussions about sleep patterns, appetite, and more. Even the color and consistency of stool and urine can provide valuable information about the body's condition, as excessive dryness, for example, may lead to constipation.
Emotions also play a central role in traditional Chinese medicine; emotions like anger, sadness, and fear may provide clues about which areas of the body might require strengthening through treatment.
Treatment methods in traditional Chinese medicine include dietary adjustments, acupuncture, acupressure (tuina massage), herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes.
Traditional Chinese medicine treatments can support overall well-being and may aid in the healing process of various ailments and injuries. However, the effectiveness of these treatments largely depends on the practitioner's expertise, and their success cannot be systematically classified in the same way as modern medicine.
Feel free to inquire about additional information or available appointment times for treatments.