Chinese Medicine: combining traditional wisdom with modern research and effective practice
(Modern) Chinese Medicine is a system of diagnosis and treatment based on modern research and applying current Australian Health Regulation standards to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Theory and (Oriental) diagnosis. Chinese Medicine practitioners can use herbs, acupuncture, and other methods such as soft-tissue therapy depending on individual qualifications and registration categories. The distinction between Chinese Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine is scientific evidence.
Currently across the world Traditional Medicine practices are being researched and evaluated to Western Medicine equivalent 'scientific' standards: this takes time and funding, so while there currently may be insufficient scientific evidence for advertising the treatment of some diseases, Chinese Medicine does have an established role helping to manage the symptoms of specific conditions (e.g. pain management related to certain conditions), or supporting the effectiveness of other treatments (e.g. IVF). At AMBB we highly encourage complementary and integrative consultation between Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine as part of a multidisciplinary approach.
Please discuss with your practitioner if you would like to know what the level of evidence and most up to date published research (or currently accepted research) is for the condition you are seeking treatment for or managing your individual symptoms. Some examples with varying levels of evidence are:
Pain management, fatigue and nausea (certain conditions, including some chronic diseases);
Reducing side-effects of IVF treatments (e.g. nausea and hyper-ovarian stimulation syndrome) and pregnancy related complaints (e.g. morning sickness). There is current evidence that acupuncture can assist with nausea and morning sickness, some pregnancy related back pain and pelvic pain; as well as seeking acupuncture to assist with reducing the feeling of stress and promoting relaxation (e.g using a Japanese Acupuncture technique which is more gentle than Traditional Chinese Medicine style Acupuncture);
Poor energy, stress (including supporting associated insomnia) and ‘regulating’ emotions*: (*e.g. some current evidence for improving results when in conjunct with SSRIs);
Immune system support - general wellbeing only.
Chinese Medicine is generally considered to be "safe", but occasionally (as with all health treatments) may be associated with possible adverse reactions in individual cases.
Chinese Medicine also includes prescribing herbal supplements, which are commonly combined in ‘formulas’ whereby each herb is carefully and specifically selected and combined to achieve an overall therapeutic effect while dramatically reducing potential side effects. Chinese Herbal Medicine is a natural adjunct to acupuncture treatment, further supporting balance of the body’s internal environment encouraging recovery. All prescribed herbs are on an approved list in accordance with TGA regulations. Please ensure that your practitioner is advised of any medication or supplements that you may already be taking to avoid potential drug-herb interactions to ensure your health and safety is paramount.
Natural Medicine & Supplements
Advice from both Western dietary and nutritional perspective as well as from a herbal/food-as-medicine perspective and Chinese Medicine background.
Everything eaten or consumed has an effect in the body, from mild to strong responses. This can be as simple as addressing an acidic/alkaline imbalance, to essential macro and micro nutrients, to overall cooking/meal advice for a healthy life, and through to consuming or avoiding certain foods during illness.
Practitioner only professional supplements can be prescribed to address essential mineral imbalances (when dietary intake is insufficient) and are complementary to most modalities. They may assist in managing the cause of a condition, not just the symptoms.
Our natural practitioner only supplement range includes:
Sun Herbal China Med range of medicinal herbal formulas
Blackmores Professional range of colloidal minerals
Nature’s Sunshine herbal supplements
Metagenics natural professional
suppliments & products
Acupuncture is based in the oriental tradition of treating illness and injury by recognising patterns of disharmony which cause the body to cease functioning at optimum health. By stimulating specific points on the body known as acu-points in carefully selected combinations ("formulas") to achieve a desired overall effect: e.g. practitioners seek to remove blockages in the biomagnetic field’s resonance (described as flow of Qi or ‘life force energy’) and to encourage movement of restricted blood and lymph flow that may be associated with pain and poor health. Using the metaphor of reprogramming a computer, where the ‘acu-points’ send a signal to different parts of the brain to address a specific condition ( for example ongoing research through fMRI scans 'mapping' brain activity stimulated by needling acupuncture points), possibly by accessing the autonomic nervous system and releasing endorphins.
In addition, “ashi” point technique correspond frequently to the practice of ‘dry-needling’, where local needling is applied with the intention of targeting pain and muscle tension by stimulating a local inflammatory response to which is believed to encourage the body's own self- healing e.g of trigger points.
Unlike the practice of dry-needling which is not (yet) regulated nor has minimum education standards in Australia; Acupuncturists are required to be AHPRA registered Allied Health Practitioners to ensure public health and safety is paramount. Acupuncturists are required to use single-use sterile disposable needles and comply with infection control requirements. Australian Acupuncturists have completed a minimum university degree (usually 4-5 years specialising in Acupuncture subjects, as well as studying various other Western Medicine subjects such as anatomy, pharmacology, and clinical western medicine.. or have met the equivalent standard) and passed entrance and exit exams to be able to use the title 'Acupuncturist' and to be allowed to 'needle' the public.
Electro-acupuncture (EA) can also be considered when treating health concerns, in particular, pain. Although similar, EA and TENS are different. Unlike TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) electrodes that use high frequency, low amplitude, short pulse electrical stimulation across the surface of the skin (which is commonly used in physiotherapy and home-treatment devices); electroacupuncture technique uses low frequency, high amplitude, long pulse stimulation as there is less resistance due to the needles being inserted through the skin. This requires less current than TENS to achieve the desired outcome: targeting individual muscles, nerves, or even larger dermatome regions. An electro-acupuncture machine is charged balanced and purpose designed for use in Australia to avoid accidental electrolysis. Provided treatment is performed by a qualified practitioner Electro-acupuncture therefore can be manually controlled to be operated under a threshold where (with verbal feedback) it should not cause pain (e.g. C-fiber activation) nor inadvertently cause other potential significant side effects (e.g. muscle spasm / tear). You can discuss EA in your consultation as it is not applied unless requested.
Cupping is an ancient Chinese technique (using a heat ‘vacuum’ suction effect) to stimulate the flow of blood and lymph to move stagnation (metabolic waste, lactic acid) and mobilise muscles to relax and reduce muscle pain and dysfunction. Many traditional cultures use cupping to assist with alleviating muscle tension, sporting injuries, common colds and flu and stimulating the nervous system - however modern research is still needed to establish effectiveness.
Shiatsu (“finger pressure”) massage promotes health by helping restore the body’s natural balance and energy flow by incorporating a gentle pressure massage with (oriental) diagnostic techniques. It may also promote prevention of and recovery from illness by stimulating the body’s natural healing process as well as releasing endorphins to help relaxation and stress release.