tai ji symbol Chinese Medicine (TCM) has evolved over thousands of years. Its philosophy is quite different from that of modern western/conventional medicine, though the two can be well integrated, as they often are in China now. It is based on the concept of Yin and Yang and the "Five Elements"or "Five Phases" (Wu Xing). 

When you come for a consultation/treatment, your practitioner will ask you lots of questions - some of which may seem irrelevant to your primary complaint, but it helps us to get an idea of what is going on in your body as a whole, so that we can make connections and help treat your ailment(s) more effectively. In Chinese Medicine, the mind and body are all interconnected, and a person is also connected with their environment, and with the seasons and weather, so all of these things can have an effect on the body. TCM practitioners will also read the pulses and the tongue to help with diagnosis from a holistic point of view. Of course, if you have a physical problem, diagnosis will include some palpation of the painful areas or joints or muscles to assess the best treatment. Sometimes we might recommend further tests or scans from your GP.

Yin is coolness, calmness, weighty-ness, night time, rest, moisture and stillness. Yang is heat, action, the sun and daytime, brightness  and fire. The relative balance of Yin and Yang must be in equilibrium for optimum health, though both are always present, and the equilibrium is not static, changing throughout the day and throughout life. 

Similarly, the Five Phases (fire, earth, metal, water and wood) must also be in a harmonious balance to allow the organs to function healthily and for wellbeing. Each element or phase is associated with various bodily functions and organs in TCM, as well as emotions, tastes and colours.  Each acupuncture meridian, or channel, is also associated with an organ in TCM - though it is important to note that when a TCM practitioner talks about an organ, they are not necessarily talking about it in the sense that a conventional doctor would understand it. i.e. when a practitioner meantions 'the Heart', it does not referrence necessarily the physical heart with its valves, atria and ventricles, but relates rather to the functions attributed to 'the Heart' in TCM. Similarly, practitioners may talk about Phlegm or Blood using the TCM understanding of these fluids, which may not tally exactly with the conventional understanding of these words.  

Qi is the ultimate 'life force' or 'breath' of the body. To flow smoothly and ensure that the body can function at its best, it relies on good nutrition from air, food and drink, a good inherited constitution, and a healthy lifestyle. Modern life, emotional strain and pathogens can affect this flow of Qi, causing an imbalance in the body or 'stagnantion' where it is hindered in some way.

Acupuncture is a way of accessing the Qi of the body to help re-establish this harmony or equilibrium that we experience when our health is good and our body is comfortable. Specific points on the body (usually on some of the 14 main channels) are chosen because of the area of the body which is affected, because of the specific action or property of that point or channel, and because of the connections between the channels.   

Member of the British Acupuncture Council