Traditional Chinese Medicine:

The art of staying well and preventing illness

By Dr. Meg Jordan

Although there have been pockets of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practiced in Asian communities throughout North America since the 1840s, its widespread acceptance by Western physicians has only inched forward since 1970 when China opened to the West. James Reston, a reporter accompanying President Nixon on a groundbreaking trip, received acupuncture to relieve post-operative discomfort. Reston was so amazed at its effect that he wrote an article in the New York Times, which inspired future medical doctors to go East and investigate this ancient healing system and its distinctive set of philosophies. Today various treatments of TCM undergo scientific research to test its effectiveness in enhancing immune system health, increasing energy, countering the effects of chronic stress, and supporting human health in numerous ways.

While scientists fail to understand the underlying mechanisms of action in a Western sense, they grow more impressed with the safety and efficacy of many therapeutic applications of Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture, and moxibustion (burning of herbs over acupuncture sites) for keeping people well and curing their illnesses. After all, it has been the principle system of medicine for billions of people throughout Asia for over 5,000 years. To call it “alternative medicine,” strikes TCM practitioners silly and inaccurate.

The origins of Chinese medicine are linked to legendary emperors over several dynasties. One of the most prominent is Shen Nong (2838 BC), also known as the Fire Emperor. He was considered the father of herbal medicine in China, having tested hundreds of botanicals by tasting them and classifying their herbal properties. Shen Nong declared the red reishi mushroom to be the “monarch” of superior herbs, and soon afterwards, it was exclusively secured for royal families.

Great care is put into the harvesting and preparation of herbal compounds. Stringent quality control of an herb is necessary to enhance the strength and benefit of an extract. Potency is assured by standardized manufacturing techniques and careful selection of raw materials. Many herbs, like the Japanese red reishi, are prepared using hot water extraction, a method favored by ancient herbalists. This method was (and is still today) considered a superior technique for extracting herbal remedies. Herbs frequently used in TCM, such as red reishi, Panax ginseng, and cordyceps all have astonishing benefits when prepared properly.

Another adaptogen and strong yang tonic, Panax ginseng (Panex quinquefolius) also known as Korean ginseng, is a root that has an ancient history with a name that means “cure all”. It supports the adrenals and is valued for its triterpene glycoside content, an important stimulant and a glucose metabolizer. Cordyceps, another amazing Chinese medicinal herb, may have a cancer preventive effect due to its action on Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), shown in animal models to increase levels of interleuken 1 (IL1) and TNF.

Scientists are just beginning to map out how many chronic diseases are not caused by a typical pathogen, but rather by the body’s response to a release of biochemical mediators, or messengers, to a wide variety of triggering agents. Reishi, Panax ginseng, and cordyceps have modulating effects on the entire inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cascade. They affect vascular permeability, vasodilation, macrophage action, micro-repair, free radical scavenging, protein release—thousands of different reactions—in beneficial ways.

It’s a confusing cascade requiring graduate level study in biochemistry, so suffice it to say, that these renowned botanicals are masters of modulation, reminding cells how to behave properly, even in the face of inordinate stress. Balance is everything.

Chinese medical theory is grounded in natural forces of yin and yang – the balance of opposing forces in the universe, and the five elements. One cannot separate Chinese medicine from this fundamental philosophy of contrasting paired opposites. It is the way of heaven and earth and correlates with the body’s experience of health and disease. Also fundamental to TCM practice, is the concept of qi (chi), often interpreted as energy, but can also be considered the pervasive subtle material that causes physiology to function and maintain vitality. The qi and five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) correspond to times of day, seasons, organs, emotions, taste, mental states, and vocalizations. Qi is enhanced through herbs, acupuncture, and movement exercises such as Tai Chi and Qigong.

To Western doctors, these medical principles sounded too metaphysical, and therefore, were dismissed quickly as mere metaphors. But as we gain in knowledge and understanding of how personal and planetary health are inextricably linked, adopting a system of healing that has always respected this “body ecology” appeals to many people. Traditional Chinese Medicine is dedicated to whole person health, mind-body-spirit unity, individualized approaches, and preventive health measures. Those characteristics in themselves are the groundwork of integrative medicine, a branch of modern medicine that blends time-honored healing systems with evidence-based therapies.


Dr. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP, is a medical anthropologist known as the Global Medicine Hunter®. She is an integrative health specialist, international health journalist, and a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

> Back to Health Articles

All information on this site is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Information presented here is not intended to substitute the advice provided to you by your physician or healthcare practitioner. You should not use any information contained in our site to self-diagnose or personally treat any medical condition or disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical condition, you are urged to contact your healthcare practitioner.

Taking natural health supplements should be a decision made by the individual themselves and based on personal research. It is recommended for all individuals to consult their healthcare practitioner prior to starting any new medication. Individuals should not discontinue current medication without first consulting their doctor.

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy describes how your personal information is collected, used, and shared when you visit or make a purchase from our websites which includes www.mikei.ca, www.mikei.com, www.mikeireishi.com, www.mikei.co.uk and www.nikkeicanada.com (the “Sites”).

PERSONAL INFORMATION WE COLLECT

When you visit the Sites, we automatically collect certain information about your device, including information about your web browser, IP address, time zone, and some of the cookies that are installed on your device. Additionally, as you browse the Sites, we collect information about the individual web pages or products that you view, what websites or search terms referred you to the Sites, and information about how you interact with the Sites. We refer to this automatically-collected information as “Device Information.”

We collect Device Information using the following technologies:

Additionally, when you make a purchase or attempt to make a purchase through the Sites, we collect certain information from you, including your name, billing address, shipping address, payment information (including credit card numbers, expiration date), email address, and phone number. At your discretion, we may also be collecting your birthdate and title information. We refer to this information as “Order Information.”

When we talk about “Personal Information” in this Privacy Policy, we are talking both about Device Information and Order Information.

HOW DO WE USE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?

We use the Order Information that we collect generally to fulfill any orders placed through the Sites (including processing your payment information, arranging for shipping, and providing you with invoices and/or order confirmations). Additionally, we use this Order Information to:

We use the Device Information that we collect to help us screen for potential risk and fraud (in particular, your IP address), and more generally to improve and optimize our Sites (for example, by generating analytics about how our customers browse and interact with the Sites, and to assess the success of our marketing and advertising campaigns). We may also use the Device Information for remarketing and retargeting purposes to provide you with targeted advertisements and offers we believe may be of interest to you.

SHARING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

We share your Personal Information with third parties to help us use your Personal Information, as described above. For example, we use an outside shipping company to ship orders, and a credit card processing company to bill users for purchases. We also use Google Analytics to help us understand how our customers use the Sites. You can read more about how Google uses your Personal Information here: https://policies.google.com/privacy. You can also opt-out of Google Analytics here: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout.

Finally, we may also share your Personal Information to comply with applicable laws and regulations, to respond to a subpoena, search warrant or other lawful request for information we receive, or to otherwise protect our rights.

BEHAVIOURAL ADVERTISING

As described above, we use your Personal Information to provide you with targeted advertisements or marketing communications we believe may be of interest to you.

You can opt out of targeted advertising by:

Additionally, you can also visit NAI’s opt-out page http://optout.networkadvertising.org.

DO NOT TRACK

Please note that we do not alter our Sites’ data collection and use practices when we see a Do Not Track signal from your browser.

LINKS

The Sites contain links to other websites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of any other site that collects personally identifiable information.

RESIDENTS IN EUROPE

If you are a European resident, you have the right to access personal information we hold about you and to ask that your personal information be corrected, updated, or deleted. If you would like to exercise this right, please contact us through the contact information below.

Additionally, if you are a European resident, we note that we are processing your information in order to fulfill contracts we might have with you (for example if you make an order through the Sites), or otherwise to pursue our legitimate business interests listed above. Additionally, please note that your information will be transferred outside of Europe, including to Canada and the United States.

SURVEYS, CONTESTS, OFFERS

From time-to-time, the Sites may request information via surveys, contests, or offers. Participation in these surveys, contests, and offers is completely voluntary and you may choose whether or not to participate and therefore disclose this information. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and shipping address), and demographic information (such as postal code, age level, gender). Contact information will be used to notify the winners, award prizes, or redeem offers. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the use and satisfaction of the Sites and the products offered on the Sites.

DATA RETENTION

When you place an order through the Sites, we will maintain your Order Information for our records unless and until you ask us to delete this information.

CHANGES

We may update this privacy policy from time to time in order to reflect, for example, changes to our practices or for other operational, legal or regulatory reasons. This policy was last updated on October 27th, 2019.

CONTACT US

For more information about our privacy practices, if you have questions, or if you would like to make a complaint, please contact us by e-mail at info@nikkeicanada.com or by mail using the address provided below:

Nikkei (Canada) Marketing Limited Unit 170 - 12868 Clarke Place, Richmond, BC, V6V 2H1, Canada