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Chinese Healthcare

by Maria Mercati(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 126 - August 2006

For hundreds of years China kept itself well closed off from the rest of the world, and traditional Chinese medicine remained a closely guarded secret. But now, as we start the new millennium, Chinese medicine is no longer a secret. It has been discovered by foreigners from all over the world, and it is spreading rapidly as its worldwide popularity grows. The name Traditional Chinese Medicine is often abbreviated to TCM. It includes not only the more familiar Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine and Diet but also Tui Na – the less publicized hands-on therapy which is a complex medical massage and manipulation for adults and children, as well Qi Gong and Tai Chi – healing exercises. This powerful combination is mainstream medicine for over one fifth of the world's population. All branches of Chinese medicine aim at stimulating and balancing the body's intrinsic energies which the Chinese call Qi. Its secret is its ability to evolve to meet the healthcare needs of successive generations. It must surely be the most tried and tested system of medicine in the world today.

With such a rapid spread of traditional Chinese medicine in the West during recent years, there is obviously great interest in the subject. At present in the UK, the Department of Health is in the process of introducing statutory regulation for Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, but sadly not for Tui Na. If regulation is needed for Osteopathy and Chiropractic, it most certainly is for Tui Na. I believe the Tui Na element should not be excluded from statutory regulation of TCM in the UK.

In China, all students who wish to become practitioners, study TCM theory, Tui Na, Acupuncture and Herbs for five years before gaining a Bachelor degree. After five years they may choose to specialize in one of the main disciplines for their Masters.

Four years ago, I made my eighth trip to China accompanied by my daughter Gina and a professional cameraman. The aim of the trip was to film material that could be edited into a five-part series on Traditional Chinese Medicine, in its own cultural context of 21st Century China.

I first went to Shanghai in 1992, and over the years, whilst studying Chinese Medicine, built-up friendly relationships with Chinese doctors in hospitals around the country. This gave me entry to hospitals that I, as a Westerner, would have found almost impossible to achieve, since the Chinese are very protective and secretive about their traditional medicine. My aim was to film the five different branches of traditional medicine in action. I believe my in-depth experience of first-hand traditional medicine is unique, and the footage that I have acquired reflects this. Over the course of this series, I introduce a different way of overcoming and preventing illness. I show Chinese Medicine in action in all its different forms, and how incredibly effective it is, especially when used in combination, and all this without any side-effects.

Chinese Healthcare Part 1 – Acupuncture

In the Acupuncture programme, the powerful therapeutic effects of Acupuncture and Cupping are shown, offering genuinely effective treatments for illnesses ranging from arthritis, back pain and sports injuries to depression, and even problems as serious as cerebral palsy in children.

It gives a clear insight into the function of Acupuncture as a powerful healing entity in its own right. The viewer is given an opportunity to see different styles of Acupuncture that may not be so readily available in the West.

Chinese Healthcare Part 2 – Tui Na for Adults

Here, Tui Na is shown in the context of its ability to treat all spinal problems, such as neck, shoulder and back pain.Tui Na is virtually unknown in the West, but predates Osteopathy and Chiropractic by 4,000 years. It excels in the treatment of chronic pain associated with the musculo-skeletal system, and as a means of treating sports injuries is quite unsurpassed. Western viewers will be astounded with the variety of conditions that that can be treated with this ancient hands-on therapy.

Chinese Healthcare Part 3 – Tui Na for Children

Paediatric Tui Na is a well-established branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the Tui Na wards, we witness the miraculous effects of Tui Na massage bringing a brain-damaged baby in a coma back to consciousness. This baby, while being treated for meningitis, had fallen into a deep coma from which she had shown no sign of recovery for four weeks. After extensive testing, and Western medical treatment for meningitis, the parents were given the devastating news that they should take their child home to die.

They came to the traditional hospital in a last desperate attempt to save their child. A medically-trained Tui Na doctor used deep and strong pressure on very specific points, and amazingly restored her back to consciousness.

The ability of Tui Na to successfully treat more common childhood ailments, such as asthma, vomiting, fever, insomnia and anxiety, is also shown. Tui Na for children can help maintain the patterns of Qi balance that promote and co-ordinate physical development, resulting in a fit, strong, bright child.

A strong immune system is another 'spin off' from well-balanced Qi. Good brain development ensures intelligence being able to reach full potential.

Chinese Healthcare Part 4 – Food and Herbs

For the Chinese, food is not only something to eat, it is also medicine. They see a correct diet as being in the forefront of healthcare practice and the treatment of disease. The film shows how many Chinese herbs and formulae have been used for over a thousand years to not only promote a cure for conditions such as infertility, menopause and skin conditions, but also as a means of maintaining radiant, good health.

In the West, the vast quantities of prescription and over-the-counter manufactured synthetic drugs, which are consumed, are also available in China. However, the Chinese people are only too aware that all Western drugs are artificial substances that have negative, and sometimes, even serious side-effects. This is why most Chinese prefer to use herbal medicine, because they are natural substances and can treat virtually every kind of health problem.

Many herbs are so safe and nourishing that they can be taken as daily tonics over a long period of time. Two thousand years ago the Chinese had already described and catalogued some 300 different medicinal herbs. About 1,000 years later, the list had more than quadrupled. Today the catalogue contains around 10,000 different species; most of them now cultivated on a vast scale, with 400 in common every day use.

Chinese Healthcare Part 5 – Qi Gong and Tai Chi

Like all branches of TCM, these exercises have been developed over thousands of years. Their purpose is to improve the uptake of Qi from the air, and to promote its effective circulation to maintain and improve the function of all the internal organs, keeping the body healthy and able to achieve its maximum potential. The Chinese do Qi Gong and Tai Chi to prevent disease, to feel good, to have greater stamina and energy, and to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Chinese Medicine advocates gentle, controlled exercises throughout adult life and into old age.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the link between Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit, making it the most holistic natural healing system on earth.

Further Information

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About Maria Mercati

Maria Mercati BA(Hons) ITEC MTI Dip Thai Massage, Dip Shiatsu Mem AcuC, Cert Tui Na (Shanghai College Traditional Medicine), Cert. Acu (Xiangshan Hospital of TCM Shanghai), Cert Acu (Weihai Hos) is an authoritative and innovative teacher, best-selling author and practitioner in the field of Tui Na Chinese and Thai Massage as well as Acupuncture. Her books Step-by-Step Tui Na and Thai Massage are definitive texts and have been translated into twelve languages. She has also produced and directed a series of DVD's (filmed by professionals) to accompany her books.

The methods Maria uses and teaches have been developed from her many periods of study in China, Indonesia and Thailand working with the leading experts in their respective fields.  She brings a wealth of practical experience to her courses, having achieved outstanding results with thousands of patients over the last twenty years.

She may be contacted via;

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