An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

We have all taken medicine for a headache, insomnia, or a stomachache that only offered temporary relief.  The reason that the relief was temporary is because the root (or underlying cause) of the illness was not treated.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnoses and treats the root of an individual’s ailment through pattern diagnosis.  Today, I will inform you about the methods used by a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the pattern diagnostic utilized, and about how TCM prevents and treats illness.

In TCM, the individual is treated, not the disease.  An underlying principle of Chinese medicine is that the body knows how to heal itself.  The practitioner works to remove obstructions to health, support deficiencies, clear/drain excesses, etc.  A person’s body will resolve the ailment once the practitioner is able to balance the pattern they demonstrate.

The methods used in…

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An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

…Continuation of Part 1:

Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to treat the root (or source) of an illness because it utilizes pattern diagnosis. Pattern Diagnosis consists of tongue and pulse diagnosis, listening to the patient’s symptoms, and looking at the patient’s color and movement.  According to Giovanni Maciocia in The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, pg. 127 “…the nature of the pattern is often related to its specific cause of disease.”  The pattern that is looked for involves a combination of signs and symptoms that have a foundation in yin and yang theory.  These patterns indicate that the body is hot or cold, deficient or excess, whether the illness is internal or external, etc.  The pulse indicates the state of the organ systems, meridians, blood, qi (energy), yin (fluids of the body), and yang (body circulation and warmth).  Looking at the patients tongue…

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Support Your Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Support Your Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine


The asian medicine view of allergies is related to a syndrome called wei qi deficiency.  The wei qi is seen as the most superficial Qi of the body that acts as a barricade between the individual and their environment.  When the wei qi defenses are sufficient a person will have a resistance to external pathogens, preventing common colds and also assisting with allergies.  When these defenses are normal a person will not be effected by irritants in the air, such as pollen, dust mites, cat or dog hair, etc.  Therefore, if an individual suffers from allergies, it is of key importance to strengthen their wei qi.  There can be other underlying syndromes and deficiencies that cause a person to be prone to allergies that are more specific to an individual, but in general the strength of the wei qi plays a key…

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Acupuncture Related Research- Key Issues and Concerns

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Acupuncture Related Research- Key Issues and Concerns

In this scientific era tested results, proof that something is effective, is often valued over first hand experience.  Western research relies upon standardized protocol and isolating variables, so as to obtain reliable results.  This is a legitimate and understandable approach when desiring concrete and repeatable outcomes.  However, when utilizing this method to test the validity of acupuncture, this approach can create erroneous and misleading results.  One of the strengths of acupuncture lies in its ability to individualize treatments.  Asian medicine views the person as a whole and does not isolate symptoms when treating.  Since every person with a specific syndrome will have a different pattern diagnostic, it is inappropriate to give the same treatment.  Why? … because the internal cause of a disease is unique to the individual.  We aren’t all the same.

It gives misleading results when acupuncture related research standardizes treatments for…

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Menopausal Support with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

Menopausal Support with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Although other traditional Chinese medicine syndromes can be overlapped, in general women during menopause will have a pattern called Yin deficiency.  The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause a group of very uncomfortable symptoms for women, such as: hot flashes, night sweats, emotional fluctuations, and more.  These symptoms are caused by the decrease of estrogen and represents a loss of fluids in the body, as called Yin deficiency in Asian medicine.  Acupuncture and herbs are a great support for the transition into menopause.  These interventions can help to support the Yin of the body, aid in balancing the hormones, and thus smooth out the intensity of symptoms.  It is best to see a trained acupuncturist and herbalist, as each individual’s presentation is different and certain regiments may not be appropriate for everyone.

When working to support the bodies Yin, another key aspects to…

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St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interaction, Part 1

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interaction, Part 1

Although St. John’s Wort is not a Chinese herbal medicine, it is an important Western herbal medicine to be educated about.  This herb is of particular importance due to its popularity and because it is easily purchased over the counter in health food and herb stores throughout the US.  St. John’s Wort is used for mild depression.  Since it has been shown to be effective herbal prescription, it is very popular.  St. John’s Wort is often self-medicated, without first seeking the advice of a health care practitioner.

            St. John’s Wort usually takes about 1 month before it has a therapeutic effect St. John's Wortfor the individual.  Although St. John’s Wort is for mild depression and has slow onset, the power of its biochemical constituents should not be underestimated when used in combination with Western medication!  As written in a journal by the American…

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St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

Yasmin Spencer, LAc, DAOM

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

…Continuation from Part 1

            I highly recommend St. John’s Wort for patients with mild depression whom wish to utilize Western herbal medicine alone.  However useful this herb is on it own, it is not to be used in combination with Western pharmaceutical medication without first consulting with the individual’s doctor.  In addition, if it is approved for use alongside with Western medicine, it should still be monitored carefully.  St. John’s Wort should never be used at the same time as an SSRI’s, specifically because the combination can potentially cause Seratonin Syndrome.  According to the American Family Physicians, in an article written April 1, 2005, “Serotonin syndrome is caused by a systemic excess of serotonin and is defined when at least three of the following signs and symptoms are present: mental status changes, diaphoresis, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, diarrhea, fever, tremor, in-coordination, seizures, tachycardia…

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