Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Conventional Medicine, Massage.

chinese-medicine-vs-western-medicineChinese medicine is a system of health care developed thousands of years ago. Western medicine, while quite ubiquitous in the United States, is a much more recent phenomenon. “The development of medicine in Western nations follows the way of hypothetical deduction and the Eastern approach uses the inductive method,” writes Dr. Julia J. Tsuei for the National Center for Biotechnology Information. “The Western approach clearly divides the health from the disease, yet the Eastern approach considers health as a balanced state versus disease as an unbalanced state.” Whether you are looking for alternative or complimentary treatments to those offered by mainstream medical providers or are considering a career in in holistic health, it helps to understand some of the differences in Chinese medicine vs Western medicine. To learn more about some attributes of each system, read on.

Divergent approaches to patient exams

While a doctor of Western medicine might be most interested in vital signs like weight, height, body temperature, blood pressure and so on, as well as signs of disease, the Chinese medicine doctor will examine the whole person. A practitioner might be just as interested in a person’s physical issues as in other aspects of their lives, including their relationships with family, life stresses or spiritual state.

A doctor of Western medicine might treat two patients suffering the same ailment in the same way, while Chinese medicine practitioners would understand that each patient is an individual. “What makes Eastern medicine so different than Western is that instead of prescribing a ‘one size fits all’ for all patients with certain symptoms, Eastern medicine looks at the needs of each individual and unique body and acts accordingly,” according to Gaia. “In essence, it’s a short-term versus long-term action plan.”

Differences in diagnostic practices 

Practitioners of Chinese medicine understand the world and the human body in terms of five essential elements:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water

These substances are aspects of the qi, or chi — or the life force energy — that flows within the body. Each person is made up of a unique balance of these elements, which are each associated with different seasons, colors and organs in the body. When the elements become unbalanced of the flow of qi is impeded, health problems occur. The therapies used by practitioners of Chinese Medicine aim to restore flow and balance. The treatments also aim to help facilitate the body’s own ability to heal itself.

Some of the methods Chinese medicine uses to correct imbalances and create harmony:

  • Diet therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Herbal remedies
  • Chinese exercise
  • Meditation

Western medicine often relies on pharmaceutical therapies to address health issues, while Chinese medicine relies on more natural substances.

Some patients opt for a combination of Chinese and Western medicine, and it’s a good idea to share with your practitioner or provider all the treatments and therapies you use.

Learn more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine by downloading our free guide. You can also make an appointment with the Acupuncture & Massage College’s programs contact admissions.


Shiatsu Massage Therapy for Optimal Health

Posted by & filed under Alternative Medicine, Massage.

shiatsu massage therapyShiatsu, a form of Oriental therapy based on traditional Chinese medicine principles, incorporates Chinese medicine theory and practice, Japanese massage therapy traditions, and Western physiology and anatomy. Literally translated from the Japanese as “finger pressure,” the practice works to treat a variety of ailments and improve and maintain optimal health. Shiatsu is a holistic practice that restores not only the physical body, but the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the patient.

Creating balance and harmony

Shiatsu helps heal specific ailments and health conditions and corrects body imbalances by using the fingers, thumbs and palm to apply pressure to various areas of the body’s surface. Pressure applied to points on the body can promote energy distribution throughout the body and correct disharmonies in the energetic components of the body.

Promoting natural healing 
Shiatsu practitioners can aid in prevention and treatment of illness by stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities. In other words, the therapy helps the body heal itself. Used as either an integrative or primary therapy, Shiatsu treats the body holistically by restoring the nervous and circulatory system functions, along with the muscles and bone structure, to contribute to mind and body wellness.

Improving a variety of health problems
People experiencing a variety of health conditions and ailments can benefit from Shiatsu therapy, including:

  • Poor posture
  • Joint problems
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Acute and chronic neck and back pain
  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis

Some of the immediate physical benefits of shiatsu are regulation of the automatic nervous system activity and stimulation of the circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems. Getting shiatsu treatment is also deeply relaxing and a great stress reliever.

Offering more benefits

Shiatsu combines assisted-stretching techniques and acupressure to restore the balance of qi energy — or the essential life force. Shiatsu therapy treats the root causes of underlying health conditions while enhancing psychological and physical functioning. Shiatsu works to improve overall health by affecting the internal energy system by improving the flow of qi and freeing up any blockages. Therapy often results in increased range of motion and improved coordination. Therapy can also increase stamina, energy and vitality.

Starting a program
The Acupuncture & Massage College has programs in Massage Therapy starting every four weeks, and each student graduates with a specialization in Shiatsu. Classes include Shiatsu and Qi Kung 2, which teaches a through and effective treatment of the back and lower extremity based on the Hoshino system of shiatsu. The course enables students to understand the major concepts of Oriental Medicine.

For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs, which offer degrees in as little as 8.5 months, you can email our admissions department.

Career In Massage

How Asian Bodywork Is Used to Balance the Energetic System

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Massage.

asian-bodyworkPractitioners of Asian bodywork therapies aim to treat the human body, mind and spirit as one. Unlike traditional Western medicine, which views the human body as separate from the mind, Asian bodywork takes a holistic approach. Through pressure or manipulation, the techniques used by practitioners of Asian bodywork modalities help balance the body’s energetic system to promote good mental, physical and spiritual health. When imbalances in the energetic system occur, a range of health problems manifest themselves and the body’s natural healing ability is impeded. Practitioners of Asian bodywork use methods to restore the patient to a state of harmonious balance. 

The history of Asian bodywork

Like acupuncture, Asian bodywork is an ancient practice, but has only been an officially recognized practice within traditional Chinese medicine for about 20 years, according to Acupuncture Today. “In 1996, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) developed the first certification program in Asian bodywork therapy, due in large response to members of the Oriental medicine profession,” the publication states. “The NCCAOM now offers a written comprehensive examination in Asian bodywork therapy, in addition to its existing exams on acupuncture and herbal medicine.”

Types of practices and therapies

Among about a dozen therapies that exist, the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia recognizes these methods of Asian bodywork, among others: Acupressure, Amma, Chi Nei Tsang, Jin Shin Do Tuina, and several different types of Shiatsu, one of the most popular. Many practitioners incorporate multiple modalities of Shiatsu, for example, during treatment.

According to the AOBTA, practitioners may use the Chinese Four Pillars of examination to determine and execute a course of treatment:

  • Observation
  • Listening
  • Asking
  • Touching

The five essential elements

Everything in the universe, including the human body, is comprised of five essential substances or elements, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. These are:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water

Each element is associated with certain colors, seasons, characteristics, organs and health problems. Each person has a unique blend of the essential substances and the five elements are aspects of qi, or the life force energy, that flows between acupuncture points around the body via meridians, or channels of energy flow.

Balancing the energetic system

Depending on the modality used, Asian bodywork treatments aim to restore the unobstructed flow of qi throughout the body, creating balance. Here are some examples:

Acupressure: Involves applying pressure to acupuncture points around the body to promote the flow of qi and blood, balance energy and relieves tension

Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu: Involves using traditional Chinese medical treatments and manipulation of soft tissues, along with herbal and dietary regimens

Japanese Shiatsu: Involves applying pressure primarily along the body’s meridians, and may also include manipulation of the soft tissues, stretching and exercise

Tuina: Involves applying pressure to acupuncture points, manipulating soft tissues and realigning the spine to treat musculoskeletal and other issues

Learn more by starting your journey toward obtaining a degree in Oriental medicine today. Email our admissions department for information on how to enroll and download our free guide on everything you need to know about pursuing a career in the exciting field of acupuncture.

Acupuncture for Immune System Treatment

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine.


acupuncture-for-immune-systemYour immune system is your body’s security detail — the cells, tissues and organs that comprise it help repel foreign invaders like bacteria, parasites and other microbes that can cause infections. Disorders of the immune system range from everyday annoyances like mild seasonal allergies to serious illnesses like leukemia. Stress, lack of sleep and other common conditions can contribute to a weakened immune system, which can make you vulnerable to infections.

Acupuncture therapy can treat a wide range of health conditions, including immune deficiency, by stimulating and balancing the immune system. Acupuncture can strengthen a weakened immune system by increasing red and white cell counts, T-cell count and enhancing humoral and cellular immunity in patients with immune-related illness.

The causes and effects of a weakened immune system

A compromised or dysfunctional immune system is a major component of most chronic diseases. Poor nutrition, stress and exposure to harmful agents all lead to a declining immune system. Once compromised, a weak immune system results in frequent colds, allergies, and reoccurring infections.

Immunity related disorders include:

  • Common colds
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hepatitis
  • AIDS
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Immune deficiency syndrome

Treating symptoms, not causes

Most allopathic health care is directed toward relieving symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause of the disease, which may include toxins, chronic viral infections or a combination of the two. Conventional treatments used in traditional Western medicine for overactive immune system disorders, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases like arthritis, often include treatments aimed at suppressing the immune system through medication. Although that method is useful for limiting symptoms and managing pain, it does not result in a cure. Side effects and other adverse symptoms may develop after long-term use of these suppressive drugs.

Restoring the immune function

So how does someone suffering from an immune disorder find relief? Acupuncture can regulate immune function and treat the underlying cause of the disease by reducing symptoms, speeding up the healing of infection and normalizing the body’s immune response. It works by stimulating specific portions of the autonomic nervous system through selected acupoints, which in turn causes responses in the immune system. Acupuncture can cause a rise in levels of interferon, on of the immune system’s messenger hormones. Regular acupuncture therapy can be effective in treating asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, colds and infections.

For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department.

Four Steps to Changing Career Paths

The Five Essential Substances in Traditional Chinese Medicine Philosophy

Posted by & filed under Alternative Medicine, Careers.

traditional-chinese-medicineWood, fire, earth, metal, water — you are no doubt familiar with these elements in a variety of contexts. But did you know that these five substances together make up the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine? Understanding this ancient health tradition requires knowledge of how these five essential substances underpin everything from the universe to the human body.

Associations with the elements  

The five substances are aspects of qi, or the life force energy, that flows between acupuncture points and throughout the body via meridians, or channels of energy flow. Each element has associations with seasons, organs in the body, colors, senses and emotions. These concepts inform the understanding of the body and its relationship to nature and the world in the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine. On an individual level, they help us understand who we are, what illnesses we might be prone to and how to stay healthy.

How imbalances create health problems

Unlike traditional Western medicine, this philosophy treats the mind and body as inexorably combined. Each person is made up of a unique and individual blend of these five essential substances. A person in good health will experience a harmonious balance of the elements. However, an imbalance will create both mental and physical health problems, according to traditional Chinese medicine philosophy, and those are what the practitioner aims to address through holistic rebalancing therapies.

Learn about some of the characteristics of and associations with the five essential substances and what health problems might arise with an imbalance of that element.

1. Wood 

Season: Spring

Color: Green

Characteristics: Forward-thinking, clear headed, decisive

Associated organs: Liver, gall bladder

Potential health problems: Addiction, digestive issues, migraines, eye problems, sinus ailments and menstrual problems in women

2. Fire

Season: Early summer

Color: Red

Characteristics: Charismatic, social, warm

Associated Organs: Heart, small intestine

Potential health problems: Hypertension, heart irregularities, anxiety, insomnia and other sleep disorders

3. Earth 

Season: Late summer

Color: Yellow

Characteristics: Empathetic, compassionate, grounded

Associated Organs: Stomach, spleen

Potential health problems: Digestive issues, heartburn, food allergies and sensitivities, eating disorders, fatigue

4. Metal 

Season: Fall

Color: White

Characteristics: Disciplined, organized, principled

Associated Organs: Lungs, large intestine

Potential health problems: Asthma, allergies, eczema and other skin issues, bowel diseases

5. Water

Season: Winter

Color: Black/blue

Characteristics: Adaptable, courageous determined

Associated Organs: Kidneys, bladder

Potential health problems: Anxiety, phobias, infertility, metabolic issues, problems with sexual function

To learn more about traditional Chinese medicine and careers in acupuncture, download our ebook. You can also find out more about programs at the Acupuncture & Massage College by calling (305) 595-9500.