The Five Branches of Chinese Medicine


Here in America, when we hear about Chinese Medicine, we usually think of acupuncture treatments, and sometimes herbal prescriptions. But did you know that Chinese Medicine is a complete holistic medical system that includes 5 branches of treatment? Acupuncture Treatment, Herbal Treatment, Medical Massage Treatment (Tuina/Shiatsu), Dietary Consultation, and Energy Cultivation (Qigong) are the 5 Branches of Chinese Medicine (CM). Here at Vitality Wellness, our practitioner Kade Stotler has trained in each of these modalities and can offer them to you in your treatments!


Acupuncture is probably the most well known form of CM treatment. This involves the utilization of tiny, sterile, single-use needles inserted in the subcutaneous layer of the body to stimulate the body’s connected pathways and increase circulation and endorphins to the area as well as connected areas along the channel. Acupuncture is best for what we call acute or excess pain conditions. Sports injuries, colds and flu’s, falling on ice, car accidents, stress management, GI upset are just a few of the many conditions and symptoms that can be relieved and rebalanced with regular acupuncture treatments.   


Chinese Herbal Treatment is another treatment modality we utilize in CM. Your Chinese Medicine Practitioner, if degreed as a MSOM/MSCM/MACM or DAOM/DACM, is highly and skillfully trained in both Western as well as Eastern Pharmacology as well as having studied the actions, indications, properties and combinations of over 650 different herbs utilized in the modern Chinese Medicine pharmacopeia. Unlike in Western Herbalism, a Chinese Herbal prescription will not be made for individual symptoms, but will require a thorough Chinese Medicine Diagnosis and will combine herbs accordingly to this diagnosis to treat your whole system so that it can be restored to balance and begin performing from its natural symbiotic state again. Though useful for most any condition, Chinese herbal medicine is best utilized on a body with complex conditions that require multiple foci. Most notably, if one has had a condition for an extended period of time and especially if it has progressed to a more chronic and complicated condition involving multiple organ systems in the body, Chinese Herbal Medicine is a very good treatment modality for these types of conditions. Herbs are great for helping treat people with diabetes, people with high blood pressure, people with insomnia, people struggling with behavioral or emotional dysregulation, for hormonal shifts and stages in life (menopause and menstrual irregularities) and for degenerative conditions among many others.   


One of possibly the lesser well known aspects of CM, Chinese Medical Massage is a highly useful treatment modality. Unlike Western massage which works only on the superficial tissue, fascia and muscle layer of the body to move lymph and assist circulation and muscle relaxation, tuina (& shiatsu) do the same as well as utilize the Chinese Medicine meridian system to treat not only the painful area, but through a thorough CM diagnosis, the practitioner can select treatment points further above or below the area of pain in order to effect a greater change with longer lasting results. The underlying condition of what caused the “pain” can be remedied thereby preventing the injury or pain from recurring in the future. Tuina is most beneficial as an initial treatment for injury (even before acupuncture!) and in China, oftentimes up to 50% of patients who enter the medical system with back pain can be treated with tuina alone before and preventing any other type of treatment needing to be implemented!


One of the GREAT aspects of Chinese Medicine is their deep knowledge of dietary therapy! “You are what you eat” isn’t a phrase used lightly. In modern America with our diets consisting often of processed foods with additives and eaten on the go, it’s no wonder so many of our health challenges can be linked back to (and improved with changing) our diet. The fact that Chinese Medicine practitioners study different dietary requirements according to a holistic Chinese Medicine diagnosis and can offer patients anywhere from a brief all the way to a very thorough examination of their diet to assist them in their health needs is a HUGE asset CM brings to our modern culture. AND in the time of COVID19 when in person treatments pose a bit of a challenge, telehealth utilizing CM diet therapy is a HUGE asset CM can offer its patients right now!


And for the final branch of treatment, what about Qigong? Well, it may surprise you to know that this centuries old system of movement sequences utilizing breath and intention has actually been researched and proven to have numerous health benefits including: better balance, healthier immune system, stronger bones and less falls/breaks for older adults, better emotional regulation, more easeful sleep, and decreasing stress to name a few. Your Vitality Wellness practitioner Kade has actually studied qigong and taiji for over 15 years. Combining their movement studies in qigong, taiji, dance, creative movement, and martial arts with their Chinese Medicine diagnostics studies, they are actually highly skilled at developing daily qigong routines for patients to regularly practice in order to achieve surprisingly strong health benefits. This, too, is a great resource to access during this COVID19 time when perhaps in-person consultation and treatment isn’t quite up to your comfort level. Qigong is beneficial for all ages and health conditions whether you are an aging individual with mobility challenges or a highly fine tuned athlete training for your next marathon. Please consider asking for this under utilized gem that CM offers for your health.


If you are interested in one or ALL of these modalities, feel free to set up an appointment with Kade on their schedule. If, during this COVID19 time, you are a little wary about in-person visits, rest assured, we fully support you in that wise caution for your health and would love for you to still feel free to sign up for an appointment with Kade, BUT just note in the comments that you are wanting a “telehealth” appointment. This way, Kade can help you achieve your health goals utilizing a qigong routine, dietary support and/or herbal consultation (as well as offer you acupressure and tuina techniques to perform on yourself) during this time. Especially during this time of health concern due to COVID19, we here at Vitality Wellness want to ensure you MANY options of support for your health goals. So, consider asking about one of the lesser well known branches of CM you’ve learned about here and we’ll see how we can tailor it’s wisdom towards supporting your individual health needs!