Combining massage with herbal medicine has great benefits. Massage can enhance and speed up the action of herbal remedies, our hands can detect a wealth of diagnostic information and touch adds a deeply compassionate level to the act of healing. Furthermore the liniments, oils etc used in massage provide an additional channel for herbs to work.
Chinese massage is closely related to acupuncture in its use of the meridian system and is considered to be effective for a similar range of health problems. However it should not be seen as a poor relation to acupuncture. It is an effective and comprehensive therapy and is regarded alongside herbs, diet, qigong and one of the fundamental arts of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Massage is of course as old as human kind. However even with this perspective the pedigree of Chinese massage is impressive. There are massage textbooks as far back as the Nei Jing (722-481 BC) the most ancient medical texts. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) it is recorded that there were 56 massage doctors in the imperial hospital more than the total of herbalist and acupuncturists around this time
Chinese techniques were imported to Japan and eventually gave rise to Japanese Shiatsu. Later still Peter Henrik Ling learned from Chinese masters before developing Swedish massage the origin of Western bodywork.
The development of the Chinese tradition came from the synergy between four groups, doctors who brought the sophisticated medical theories of TCM to massage, martial arts who combined deep experience of qi with great ability to heal injuries, Buddhist and Taoist adepts who used massage as an essential support to their spiritual yoga and laymen often blind practitioners offering massage for pleasure and relaxation.
Since the time of the Mao Zedong massage has continued to develop absorbing western ideas into the traditional framework. It is widely practiced and taught in hospital and medical schools and is an essential part of primary healthcare.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Acupuncture and moxibustion, as two important methods of treatment, form an indispensable part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Both these two methods of treatment are based on the theory of points and the theory of jing and luo. A point means a specific spot on the body surface at which acupuncture or moxibustion is applied to evoke a certain reaction in some regions or viscera so as to produce therapeutic effects. According to the theory of jing and luo, stimulating certain points along the jing and luo by inserting needles can cure a disorder of the circulation of qi.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of treating disease or relieving pain by inserting one or more metal needles at a certain point or certain points of the human body.
According to ancient Chinese medical records and archaeological findings, the primitive Chinese people used bianshi (stone pierces), the earliest acupuncture instrument, to treat diseases. Afterward, with the further development of the society, bone needles and bamboo needles replaced stone ones. Then the development and improvement of metal casting techniques brought about metal medical needles, such as bronze, iron, gold and silver ones. Ancient Chinese doctors used nine kinds of needles: the round needle, the blunt needle, the three-edge needle, the sword needle, the round sharp needle, the long needle, the large needle, and the arrowhead needle. At present, stainless steel needle are widely used.
An acupuncturist usually pays due attention to the basic techniques including the way the needle is inserted' rapidly or slowly, the depth of the insertion, the length of time the needle should be left in the body, and the number of needles required for the treatment.
Moxibustion, another effective therapy, was discovered by ancient people when they sat down around a fire. They found that the heat not only kept them warm but also relieved certain physical pains. Then they started to use Moxa leaves for the same purpose. Today, in the treatment Moxa leaves are ignited over certain points on the skin's surface.
Acupuncture and moxibustion have many advantages. First, they are applicable in various kinds of diseases and suit therapeutic needs in internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, as well as in preventive medicine. Second, they produce prompt and appreciable cures; increase resistance to disease by providing stimulation at certain points, and stop pain. Third, they are easily practiced and mastered. Furthermore, they produce no or slight side effects, are generally safe, and can be applied together with other therapies.
Acupuncture and moxibustion play an important role not only in advancing Chinese medical science, but also in promoting medical and health science of the whole world.
The development of navigation after the l0th century resulted in the rapid development of China' s foreign trade and exchanges with other countries. Acupuncture and moxibustion were among the Chinese techniques taken to those countries. Many countries took up these techniques in their clinical practice and research.
Today, with the wide and rapid spread of the Western medicine in China, people gradually come to realize that these two different medical systems both have their own advantages and defects. The best way is to combine and to assimilate these two systems in theory and practice.