7 effective ways to benefit from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) at home

I used to see a TCM practitioner multiple times per week for herbal medicines and acupuncture and believe that following a treatment plan created by an experienced TCM is the surest way of getting the most out of TCM. Effective applications of TCM much depend on the knowledge and experiences of the practitioner to customize the treatments to the patient’s specific needs. This is true with the Western medicines, too, but even more so with TCM, which approaches patients in a holistic manner.

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Having said that, getting treated by a knowledgeable TCM practitioner can be challenging in many ways. First off, to find one near you with a good reputation can pose a hurdle, if you live in a remote location or in places where TCM is less common.

Secondly, the treatments costs can become prohibitive. Effective TCM treatments, like acupuncture, often require multiple sessions for a significant period. Add the costs for the TCM herbs on top, and the total costs can make the treatment plan economically unrealistic.

Thirdly, regular visit at TCM practitioner can become challenging. My personal experience is that great TCM practitioners are often fully booked during hours most convenient for patients, like the lunchbreaks and after 16 pm. I often felt stressed about securing appointments with my acupuncturist that didn’t cause me to leave my work early – ironic, that I was stressing about reducing stress!

They are the reasons why I implemented these strategies to integrate TCM in my lifestyle at home. Practicing TCM as a part of everyday can be a powerful way of benefitting from it even when you don’t have access to the best-in-town TCM practitioner regularly.

1. Find out your TCM patterns

During the first visit, TCM practitioner will try to find out your symptoms and their causes according to the TCM principles. Every practitioner has their own preferred way to diagnose patients, and I’ve had practitioners who checked my tongue, pulses, and/or asked lots of diagnostic questions.

It’s possible to discover your TCM patterns by yourself. For example, the classic book The Infertility Cure has excellent diagnostic questions and instructions for interpreting the results. Though the book is mostly about fertility, the part for diagnosis can be used by anyone trying to understand their problem areas according to TCM, such as Kidney Yin/Yang Deficiency, Dampness, and Blood Stagnation.

2. At-home moxibustion (moxa)

Moxibustion (moxa) is applied to acupoints and gently stimulates them with heat. Studies show that stimulation of acupoints, either by needles, heat, or even tapping/massaging, can have positive impacts. I find at-home moxa a powerful and convenient tool to stimulate acupoints on the face, because many acupuncturists usually focus on body points and don’t perform an extensive facial acupuncture, unless you’re getting an acupuncture facial. Also, sensitive places like the side of the hands, can be treated with moxa more easily than needles, if you’re a bit needle-phobic like me!

Moxa

3. Acupoints tapping

Multiple studies demonstrate that gentle tapping of various acupoints reduce cortisol level [1]. I include tapping as a part of my daily meditation practice and find it extremely effective to increase my HRV.

Beauty Blend

4. Medicinal herb extract powders

To incorporate TCM herbs in everyday lifestyle, I find super convenient concentrated extract powders, like this one and this one. They’re very versatile and can be blended in drinks, like juices and smoothies, and used in cooking and baking. I’ve tried many of the delicious recipes by Super Feast. My favorite morning routine is a little glass of fresh orange juice with a teaspoon of Beauty Blend, a blend of Schisandra, goji berry, and micro-grounded pearl, a TCM herb to nourish the heart.

5. TCM superfood snacks

In general, TCM herbs are taken for their effects rather than for their taste. A few herbs are both effective and taste great, however, like goji berries and white and black mulberries. These dried berries, together with superfood energy balls, are my favorite mid-afternoon snacks that nourish yin and boost qi.

Superfood snacks

6. Chronomedicine

Chronomedicine takes into account the timing (“when”) rather than the action per se (“what”). For instance, effectiveness of a medication varies depending on which time of the day it’s taken. Also, the survival after open-heart surgery, antibody response to vaccination, and tolerability of chemotherapy treatment all have a clear time-of-day relationship [2].

The concept of chronomedicine is not new, and in TCM, there is a record of 12 periods-of-day in one of its oldest literatures. The day is divided into 12 periods, and each period is connected to an organ. For example, 5 am-7 am is period of large intestine, 7 am-9 am is period of the stomach and 13 pm-15 pm is period of the small intestine. I apply TCM’s 12-periods-of-day principle as a guidance to optimize my body’s circadian rhythm. For example, between 11 am and 13 pm I usually have a relaxing lunch and/or a quick nap, as this is period of the heart, and activities to support the organ to rest is considered desirable.

7. Far infrared lamp (“acupuncture heat lamp”)

Today, light therapy is very popular, and I’m a big fan, too. Light panels often combine wavelengths from the red light (ca. 620 nm-700 nm) and lower end (800 nm-900 nm) of the near infrared light, and multiple studies show their effects on various aspects of our health.

Also, other wavelengths are beneficial for our body. For instance, far infrared (3 mcm to 100 mcm) have positive impacts on skin microcirculation, blood flow recovery, reactive oxidative stress (ROS) reduction and wound healing [3]. FIR penetrates the skin much deeper than red and near infrared lights reaching 2.5 cm deep under the skin. As such FIR can reach the depth where muscles, blood vessels, lymphatic glands and nerves are.

After experiencing positive effects of FIR lamp at my acupuncturist, I decided to get one at home. I usually have it on various parts of my body like legs and belly while reading and watching TV. Recently, Roland has been using it to alleviate nasal congestion caused by inflammation, and the FIR seems to be effective to reduce the stubborn inflammation.

FAR Infrared lamp

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6802208/
[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13300
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6384197/

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