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  • Writer's pictureLamia

The Eight Branches of Traditional East Asian Medicine

Traditional East Asian Medicine can be viewed from the perspective of 8 Branches.  These 8 Branches were set as a guideline to help the person understand their own responsibility in self-care and maintenance.   The 8 Branches are a perfect example of ‘holisitc healthcare’ approach and are reflective of a time when you paid your healthcare practitioner while you were well…not ill–what a different medicine model!

1. Meditation: ‘Know thyself’ is the first step in creating health.  Meditation is an essential tool for learning about self, creating a peaceful mind, reducing stress, building qi among many other benefits. The focus of meditation is not so much to ‘stop the mind’s constant chatter’, but rather to learn how to not be burdened by it.  Meditation calms the breath, and allows the qi to flow freely so we can move through our daily activities—no matter how stressful with greater ease. Your practitioner may recommend you participate in mediation or other self-cultivating activities.

2. Exercise (T’ai Qi and Qigong) T’ai Chi and Qigong benefit our bodies and minds in many ways, by strengthening muscles, creating balance, building the bones to deepening the breathe and  circulating qi and blood.   Exercise recommendations are specific to the persons needs, for example; if you have high-blood pressure, your practitioner may recommend that you do light cardiovascular exercise and Qigong to alleviate symptoms.

3.  Nutrition Proper food and nutrition is paramount to our health and in the treatment of any illness.  Nothing is more fundamental in our health than the food we ingest.  This is becoming more evident as food related disease like diabetes and obesity soar.  By understanding each individual’s constitution, energetic tendencies and coupling that with the knowledge of the energetic of foods and whole food wisdom, your practitioner can hone your diet to your needs. As Hypocrates suggested, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”

4.  Cosmology/ Astrology . This concept focuses on the observation of natural rhythms and cycles that are apparent in nature and mimicked in the body as Qi flows and life stages.  By understanding these cycles your practitioner can help treat patterns that may arise at a certain time or day, or season, or to help you harmonize with the changing cycles and season.   For example; a cough that presents at 5 o’clock every morning correlates with when the bodies’ qi should be strongest in the lungs.

5.  Geomancy (also Feng Shui) ‘Know where you are’.  Where you are can have as big impact on your health or your ability to treat a disharmony.  For example: a person with a very ‘damp’ condition (yeast, phlegm, mucus) is likely to have more difficulty overcoming it if they live in a damp basement or climate. By understanding the interactions of nature, climate, season, location, work space and home environment in relationship to the person’s own energetic we can help clients harmonize their lives .

6.  Bodywork Tuina, Amma and Shiatsu are some of the more well known bodywork practices within this branch of TEAM.

Bodywork is a powerful therapy for patients of all ages for both prevention and treatment of disease. It has been used to successfully treat and/or manage conditions including traumas such as sprains, strains, and fractures; chronic disorders such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, circulatory problems, anxiety, depression, gynecological problems, premenstrual problems, peri-menopausal problems, menopausal considerations, autoimmune diseases, and neuromuscular disease. 

7.  Herbology The use of natural plants, minerals and animals combined to assist the body in its striving to achieve a state of balance or homeostasis.  Chinese Herbal medicine is highly refined.  Each herb is understood for its energetic nature, the organ it enter and the post-metabolic results it creates in the body.  Formulations are carefully considered for the interactions the herbs and for the client’s pattern.  “Same disease different treatment, different treatment same disease” this quote reflects how individualized Chinese medicine is based on the client’s constitution and pattern.  It is not uncommon for 5 different people diagnosed with the same disease from a western medical perspective.  Each one of these clients may leave with a different Asian assessment, herbal recommendation and nutritional recommendation.

8.  Acupuncture The use of very fine, sterile, disposable needles, inserted at specific points along defined acupuncture meridians, to regulate and balance the flow of Qi, relieve pain and assist healing in the body.  Adjunctive therapies include, moxibustion, gua sha, cupping and plum blossom needling.

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