Getting Started with Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Lenore Cangeloso, LAc |

Getting Started with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of healthcare that has been practiced for thousands of years, offering a unique perspective on wellness and healing. Most people think that it is just acupuncture, but its actually much, much more!

This ancient medicine actually encompasses many cultures across East Asia and utilizes various modalities, including herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, body and breathwork as well as natural ways to live a more harmonious and balanced life due to your unique constitution.  

With such a vast and seemingly complex underlying theory, it may seem hard to begin to incorporate this medicine into your daily life. In this article, we will explore these essential aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help you begin your journey towards better health and well-being, and learn effective and easy ways to get started bringing it into your life. 

Start Here: The Basic Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine 

TCM starts by wanting to understand the body's underlying constitution and the intricate web of energy pathways, known as meridians. It dives into the core of your wellbeing, seeking to restore balance and harmony by closely observing the functions of these meridians and associated organ systems.

Chinese Medicine Meridians

By recognizing that health is an interplay of vital energies and Five Elements  (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) within the body, Chinese Medicine provides a comprehensive approach that addresses not just the symptoms but also the root causes of illness, making it a profound, natural, and time-tested healing tradition.

Understanding Chinese Herbs

Getting Started with Herbs

Herbal medicine plays a fundamental role in TCM. These herbs are carefully selected and combined to create formulas that address specific health concerns. Chinese herbal medicine is based on the belief that the body's vital energy, known as "Qi," should flow harmoniously. When Qi is disrupted, illness can occur.

As stated, herbal medicine within this discipline is often used within formulas that have specific goals such as calming the spirit or boosting digestive function, as opposed to using singular herbs to address symptoms. 

DAO Labs

Chinese herbs come in various forms, including dried herbs for decoctions, capsules, and powders. Companies such as Dao Labs, utilize popular formulas to address some of the most basic and common ailments.

Exploring Acupuncture

Acupuncture & TCM

Acupuncture is one of the most well-known aspects of TCM. It involves the insertion of single use, sterile, needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow, decrease inflammation, and promote the body's innate healing capacity.  These points are located along the meridians that traverse the body, and each have unique aspects of health they govern.

Before starting acupuncture, schedule an initial consultation with a licensed acupuncturist. They will discuss your health concerns and goals. During the acupuncture session, the acupuncturist will insert needles into specific points, and you may experience sensations like tingling or warmth. Acupuncture is generally painless and often deeply relaxing.

Find an Acupuncturist

Tongue and Pulse Diagnosis, Offering Insights into Your Health

In TCM, the tongue and pulse are valuable diagnostic tools. Practitioners examine the tongue's color, coating, and shape, as well as the quality of the pulse, to gain insights into a patient's overall health and the state of their internal organs, using the tongue as a microsystem to analyze the whole body.  The pulse is also assessed at various points on both wrists—rate, strength, quality and depth all lead to different internal environments. 

Did you know you could assess your own tongue to get a glimpse into your health?! Take this test to learn more about what your tongue is telling you about your health. 

What's Next?: Incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine into Your Lifestyle

To fully embrace TCM, experience its benefits, and begin incorporating it into your daily life you can consider these additional lifestyle factors:

    • Dietary Choices: Chinese Medicine emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet tailored to your constitution and specific health issues. The basis of healthy eating in regards to TCM is filling the diet with fresh foods that are free from chemicals, preservatives, and over-processing, scattered with food grade herbs and delicious spices. These foods are seen as the most vital and full of Qi, and focuses on the energetic qualities that the food departs unto your body. 
    • Mind-Body Practices: Practices like Tai Chi and Qigong can complement Chinese Medicine by promoting relaxation, flexibility, and the flow of Qi.
    • Stress Management: Chronic stress can disrupt the body's natural balance. Explore stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises.
    • Tea: This simple and daily routine can be a great way to incorporate TCM into your daily life. Choosing teas that help you achieve your health goals is a great place to start. 
    • Regular Check-Ins: Consistency is key in Chinese Medicine. Attend regular follow-up appointments with your practitioner to track progress and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
    • Holistic Approach: Chinese Medicine views the body as a whole, so be open to addressing not just symptoms but the root causes of your health issues. You will notice that within appointments, let's say focused on back pain, issues of digestion, sleep, and emotional balance will also be addressed. 

Getting started with TCM  is a journey towards holistic healing and improved well-being. Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and simple lifestyle changes can help pave the way to being in more alignment using Chinese medicine as the guiding light. Utilizing trusted resources, consulting with licensed practitioners and embracing the basic principles of Chinese Medicine, you can embark on a path to balance, vitality, and a deeper understanding of your own health.Incorporating Chinese Medicine into your life may require time and patience, but the potential rewards in terms of improved health and well-being are well worth the effort. 

Start your journey today and experience the profound benefits of this ancient and time-tested healing tradition!

DAO Labs About the Author

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on

Lenore Cangeloso, LAc is a state-licensed and board certified Acupuncturist and Herbal medicine practitioner. She is the owner of Wild Earth Acupuncture in Portland Oregon. Lenore has spent many months traveling to deepen her knowledge of the human body, and is a dedicated and skilled practitioner that strives to help you achieve optimal states of wellbeing. You can learn more about Lenore at

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