What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

These days many people have at least a vague idea of what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is about because the TCM practice of acupuncture has become well known. Many people have also learned that finger pressure rather than needles can also be used effectively on the acupuncture points.

Those who have practiced this “acupressure” will have learned that these pressure points are located on a series of energy pathways called meridians which are the pathways of life force called chi or qi. When chi is blocked various health problems result.

Similarly, the practice of reflexology stimulates pressure points on the hands, feet and sometimes ears. Shiatsu is a Japanese form of finger pressure massage. And sometimes people will apply different stimuli to those pressure points. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units and EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) electrodes are sometimes applied to the pressure points relevant to where pain is felt. Pain patches and transdermal magnesium chloride have also been used that way.

Cindy Black, founder of Big Tree Natural Healing gives excellent online instruction in what she calls Meridian Massage, drawing from both TCM and massage therapy. Her online courses are approved for credit by several massage related organizations. I had the pleasure of viewing one of her webinars and she presents her information very clearly. Her experience allows her to anticipate student questions and errors and provides some illuminating anecdotes.

Less well known than the human meridians and pressure points are the animal meridians and pressure points. Diane Stein illustrates some of these in her Natural Remedy Book for Dogs and Cats. A number of veterinarians have added TCM to their practices. Among them is Cheryl Schwartz author of Four Paws Five Directions, A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs.

TCM is not only about meridians and points however. While Schwartz has detailed diagrams and information about those, she also covers diet and herbal preparations both Western and Chinese. Best of all to my way of thinking, she presents both the Western view of ailments and the Chinese concepts.

If you notice that your pet seems to be developing some type of imbalance or ailment, comforting them with touch while massaging the relevant points can help ease their discomfort while giving you the opportunity to observe the situation more closely.