Traditional Chinese Medicine: What Can TCM Do?

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the unimpeded flow of the life energy Qi. You can find out how the treatment works here.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: What is it actually?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on the human being as a whole with all living conditions. Today – especially in Western society – a form of TCM that has been modernized since 1950 is used: A person is healthy when the two opposing poles Yin and Yang are in balance. Then the life energy Qi can flow unhindered through all meridians (channels) that run through the body.

All organs are related to one another in this way. Each organ is assigned to one of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) that make up the entire universe. These elements feed and control each other so that all of the energy is balanced. Traditional Chinese Medicine is also shaped by Confucianism with its strict moral rules like Taoism, which strives for a balanced relationship between man and nature.

The 5 pillars: Which methods do you use in TCM?

In TCM the main focus is on the following 5 pillars:

1. Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Acupuncture is probably the best known form of TCM. Here, small needles are stuck into certain points of the body in order to stimulate the flow of life energy, i.e. Qi. According to traditional Chinese medicine, blockages in the meridians cause complaints and illnesses. If you treat them with acupuncture, these blockages are lifted and the life energy can neither flow harmoniously. According to the teachings of TCM, the needles not only have a generally positive effect on the immune system, but they also promote the release of cortisol, anti-inflammatory substances and endorphins in the body.

A type of advanced acupuncture is called moxibustion. The acupuncture points of the body are heated by burning mugwort. The heat energy then enters the body through the acupuncture needles. Burning off, however, can cause small burn blisters on the skin.

2. Chinese drug therapy (CAT)

Above all, various medicinal plants are used in traditional Chinese medicine, but sometimes minerals and animal components are also used. As a rule, teas or powders are made individually for the patient: in, which can consist of bark, leaves or roots, for example, and which must be taken exactly as directed. In medicine, not only are all flavors served, but the focus is on the respective meridian concerned. Depending on the disease, treatment can last anywhere from a week to several months.

3. Qigong und Tai-Chi

Qigong and Tai-Chi are meditative movements that combine coordination and breathing exercises. They not only help with relaxation, but are also supposed to cleanse the body from the inside and improve the flow of qi through the body. Through appropriate exercises, the meridians are stretched in a fixed sequence and the breath is directed in such a way that one consciously feels the corresponding region of the body.

4. Tuina

Certain grip and massage techniques, which are called Tuina in TCM, are supposed to stimulate certain points in the body, similar to acupuncture, promote blood circulation and loosen possible blockages. Various techniques such as grasping, kneading, stroking and knocking are combined with one another. Tuina often has a more intense and lasting effect than a classic massage. The Tuina also takes into account joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

5. Nutrition

Another important pillar of TCM is nutrition based on the five elements: The body energy is balanced by certain foods corresponding to the individual elements. For example, chilli has a sweat-inducing effect and stimulates blood circulation, while yoghurt has a cooling effect. It is also important that all flavors are served with one dish, because each flavor should stand for a specific organ:

  • Heart: bitter
  • Liver: sour
  • Lungs: sharp
  • Kidneys: salty
  • Spleen and pancreas: sweet

The preparation of the food also plays a major role in traditional Chinese medicine: For example, steamed vegetables fuel the body’s heat balance less than baked ones. In addition, food should mainly be consumed seasonally and according to regional availability.

For which complaints does TCM make sense?

The TCM can be used for:

Acupuncture / TCM can complement conventional medicine therapy well. Close cooperation between the respective therapist is important: in.

What are the limitations of TCM?

TCM / acupuncture should not be used for:

  • surgical indications,
  • in emergency medicine
  • and for cancer in the acute stage.

If you have diseases of the immune system, consult your doctor beforehand.

Can traditional Chinese medicine cause side effects?

With acupuncture there are hardly any side effects, but circulatory problems and fainting are possible – therefore it should always be performed lying down. Allergies are possible with herbal medicines. Always pay attention to the tested quality of the pharmaceuticals – there is a risk of contamination. At Tuina: Be careful during pregnancy! It is better to always consult a doctor here before you seek treatment.

Who is TCM suitable for?

TCM is suitable for everyone who wants to do something for their health beyond conventional medicine. Generally, little initiative is required except for a change in diet and relaxation techniques. The prerequisite is the openness to get involved in a completely different therapy concept.

What does the treatment with traditional Chinese medicine cost?

Statutory health insurance pays acupuncture currently within the framework of model projects at:

  • chronic headache
  • chronic lumbar spine pain
  • chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee and hip

The amount of the reimbursement at the statutory health insurers varies. The prerequisite is that the treating doctor: has a statutory health insurance certificate. Private health insurers pay for acupuncture for chronic pain. An initial consultation with anamnesis usually costs around 100 to 150 euros, an acupuncture session 45 to 55 euros. The prices of the drugs vary according to individual needs.


Hillenbrand, N .: Guide to Chinese Medicine, Urban & Fischer, 4th edition, 2003

Greten, J .: Course book on traditional Chinese medicine: Understanding and applying TCM correctly, Thieme, 2003

Schmincke, C .: Chinese Medicine for the Western World, Springer, 2004

Innocence, PU: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beck, 2013


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