Feature: TCM – A Brief Guide

Stuck with needles to make you better? It’s a very real medical process here in Southeast Asia, where the use of needles and herbs plus other holistic approaches combine to make up TCM, or ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’. 

  • TCM is a mix of acupuncture (healing using needles) and the taking of various medicinal herbs. It is an ancient form of medicine practised in China and around Southeast Asia throughout the years - longer, so the professionals say, than Western medicine.

  • Needles used in acupuncture are manipulated by TCM professionals to aid the better movement of qi ("chi") around the body. Blocked meridians (or qi pathways) results in illness, so unblocking those pathways with acupuncture allows free movement of qi, thus better health.

  • The taking of herbs also dates back thousands of years, to ancient shamans who used specific blends in order to heal, prolong life and promote better health. Eu Yan Sang is a popular herb specialist and has several stores across the island, including one on Chinatown’s South Bridge Road.

  • Both techniques incorporate the theory of the Five Elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth – all of which correspond to different areas of the body. 

  • Moxibustion involves the burning of herbs over a patient's skin around the problem area, using a special kind of wick made from "moxa".

  • These days Chinatown is full of herb shops and acupuncture clinics catering to all ailments, but you might need a translator to help you pick out what you need. As TCM is a holistic approach, meaning it treats the whole body and mind, it would be better to start at the top and book in for a full medical with a registered practitioner.

  • The Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act (passed in 2000) requires that all practitioners be registered with the TCM Practitioners board
  • List of TMC practioners - CLICK HERE

  • For more information on health, fitness and beauty in Singapore, CLICK HERE

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