Introduction to Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine


Traditional Chinese Medicine
by Robert T. Kaneko, DAOM, LAc


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a centuries old system of healing, originating in China over 2,000 years ago, which has now spread to other countries in Asia, the United States and Europe. This system combines traditional diagnostics with treatment modalities such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, breathing exercises, nutrition, and lifestyle recommendations.

In Asia acupuncture and Oriental medicine are practiced in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and other Asian countries with large Chinese populations. Many European countries have acupuncture laws which regulate the practice of this method of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

In the United States, beginning in the early 1970’s, more than 40 of the 50 states have developed acupuncture laws regarding the practice of acupuncture by non-physician acupuncturists. For more  information about acupuncture and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practice in the United States, individuals should contact their state governments.

TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) education in the United States principally comes in two forms. Practitioners are either trained as acupuncturists or acupuncture/Oriental medical providers.  Acupuncturists are trained to administer acupuncture, whereas acupuncture/Oriental medical providers are trained to administer medicine according to Chinese medical principles as well. Highly-skilled traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture specialists (of either type) can also receive additional training in various types of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, qigong (therapeutic breathing exercises), and Oriental therapeutic massage. All acupuncturists also receive training in western medicine principally to be able identify potentially serious health conditions and to be able to communicate with other medical providers and patients. Some medical doctors may also receive special training in acupuncture, but often their education is limited in scope and actual hands on training.

Traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is a traditionally recognized mode of healing, a safe and painless method of treating various ailments of the body/mind. It is used to stimulate the energy of the body to heal itself and to flow more harmoniously. The energy flows in meridians or channels throughout the body; acupuncture needles help to stimulate and strengthen this flow. “Acupuncture” includes various methods of stimulating acupuncture points and meridians, such as heat (moxibustion) and pressure (cutaneous stimulation). Various methods can be applied according to the patient’s specific condition.

Acupuncture traditional Chinese medicine specialists use sterile needles that are discarded immediately after treatment, so there is no chance for transmission of diseases. Sensitive organs and structures in the body are avoided, so injury from an acupuncture treatment is highly unlikely. Furthermore acupuncturists use very thin, fine needles, so pain and discomfort are kept to a minimum. During an acupuncture traditional Chinese medicine session, your comfort and relaxation is of utmost importance.

Another mode of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the use of herbs and other natural ingredients to promote harmony in the body. Chinese herbs are a safe and effective method of promoting healing in the body and are usually administered in the form of a formula, which may come as dried herbs and substances, a processed granule, or prepared medicines as pills, powders, and liquids. Different Chinese herbs have different properties, that when combined synergistically harmonize to dispel disease and illness or strengthen the body. Proper diagnosis is important to safely administer Chinese herbs.

Oriental therapeutic massage includes such styles as tuina (a Chinese form of massage), shiatsu (a Japanese form of massage) and use various other massage and stretching techniques to help patients with musculo-skeletal problems and to help them to relax.


About the Author

Robert T. Kaneko, DAOM, LAc has been involved with traditional Chinese medicine for over 25 years as a practitioner, educator and as a student. Currently he is the Dean of Clinics and a clinical faculty member at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and is also in private practice as a licensed acupuncturist in Portland, Oregon. With a background in meditation and martial arts, Robert combines acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and energetic medicine to his healing practice. He can be contacted at or (503) 287-9889.





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