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Massage, Diet and Exercise in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Did you know that all hospitals in China, which are devoted to Traditional Chinese Medicine, include a massage clinic along with acupuncture and herbal medicine? Chinese massage was developed over 2,000 years ago and was popular during the Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Chinese refer to this type of therapeutic bodywork as tui na.  Tui na literally means “push” and “pull”.  It works with the energy system within the body, known as Qi.  This energy system flows through channels, which are called meridians.  By stimulating the energy throughout the body, the practitioner helps bring the patient’s body back into balance.

The practitioner must first determine which meridians need work and will do this by feeling the patient’s wrist pulse.  This is based on the same meridian points as acupuncture, so tui na is often referred to as acupuncture without the use of needles.

There are two very popular styles of tui na, which are practiced today:

  • Rolling Method:  This particular style was developed in Shanghai and is used for joint and soft tissue problems, along insomnia, migraines and high blood pressure.
  • One-Finger Method:  This style is similar to shiatsu as the practitioners push on points, which are located along the meridians with the tip of their thumb or finger.  This method is often used as a means of treatment for chronic and internal problems, pediatrics and gynecological issues.

Within Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Chinese believe that tui na helps regulate the nervous system so that Qi flows properly, boosts the immunological Qi of the body and flushes the metabolic waste out of the body.  It is a very popular part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice and is both comfortable and effective.

Diet and exercise play a very important role in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It’s important for maintaining good health and by contributing to an optimum balance of vital energy (known as Qi).  The Chinese believe that diet is one of the three origins or sources of Qi (diet, heredity and environment).

The Chinese approach to diet is grounded in the five elements and eight guiding principles of their teachings.  Foods are thought to have both yin and yang, warming and cooling properties, as well as drying and moisturizing properties.  Some foods are viewed as being better for certain people than others.  It depends on their overall health condition.  Someone who suffers from a cold and damp condition, should avoid a diet of raw vegetables and fruits.  These are considered to be yin.  It is believed that such foods would further exaggerate the loss of body heat and fluid secretion.

Tui na

Foods, which are fried, broiled, high in fat or spicy are seen as being warm foods, also referred to as the yang.  They are referred to as yang because they generate heat and stimulate circulation.

There are two types of Qi Gong practiced, internal and external:

  • Internal Qi Gong – This is used by individuals to maintain good health by regulating Qi and harmonizing the internal energy of the body.  Internal Qi Gong is used in certain movements and breath work or visualization to gather and circulate Qi in the body.
  • External Qi Gong – This is the practice of transferring the practitioner’s Qi to another person for purposes of healing.  This form of Qi Gong is similar to other body work, which is done throughout the west, like therapeutic touch.

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