What is Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine has been practised for more than three thousand years in China and has been applied in millions of cases and tested in clinical settings. This form of medicine takes a holistic approach to understand the body’s normal function and disease processes and focuses as much on the prevention of illness and general health maintenance as it does on the treatment of presenting symptoms.

In Chinese Medicine the free flow of Qi, blood and body fluids, and the dynamic balance between Yin and Yang ensures good health.   When there is a disruption in the circulation or the balance is altered from depletion or blockage, there is disharmony in the body and disease, and or pain results.  This may be caused by several factors including emotional upset, overwork, constitutional predisposition, injury, improper diet, and seasonal changes.

A Chinese Medicine diagnosis is obtained by palpation of the pulse and abdomen, observation of the body including the tongue and complexion, detailed questioning about the main complaint and overall health and lifestyle. From palpation, observation and questioning a Chinese Medicine pattern is revealed which guides the appropriate treatment.

The root imbalance in the individual is revealed allowing the cause of the disease and the presenting symptoms to be treated simultaneously.

Chinese Medicine restores the natural physiology of the body with Chinese Herbal Medicine, acupuncture, tuina (Chinese massage), lifestyle and dietary advice.



Meridians are pathways that run through the body and along its surface which circulate and distribute Qi, blood and body fluids. These substances nourish and regulate the entire body and when there is free flow in the meridians, health is maintained, although when this is blocked or depleted disease occurs. Acupuncture involves the insertion and stimulation of hair fine needles into specific points along the network of meridians to release blockages and regulate areas that are depleted which restores balance to the body.  Regulating the circulation of Qi, blood and body fluids not only relieves pain but also corrects internal imbalances in the body to treat the cause of the disease as well as the symptoms.

Specific acupuncture points are chosen based upon the individual Chinese Medicine diagnosis. There are different sensations experienced with acupuncture points including; a dull sensation around the needle, radiating along the meridian, warmth surrounding the area of the needle and a feeling of full body relaxation. Acupuncture needles are inserted and retained for 20-45 minutes in a treatment session.

Following an acupuncture treatment it is advised that you be kind to your body and avoid alcohol, caffeine and vigorous exercise.

Chinese Herbal Medicine is often used in conjunction with acupuncture in more chronic conditions.

Chinese Herbal Medicine


Chinese Herbal Medicine is one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world dating back as early as 200 AD, when detailed classical herbal medicine manuals were complied. Ingredients are mainly derived from plants and minerals and include some commonly known substances such as dates, liquorice and ginger.  In rare occasions animal products are prescribed, although no endangered animal products or unethical products are used at Northern Rivers Chinese Medicine Clinic.

The fundamental foundations of Chinese Herbal Medicine are based on the flavour, temperature and nature of herbs which allow the body to restore proper physiological function to heal itself.  Chinese Herbal Medicine is prescribed by combining individual herbs together to create a formula; this is based upon the Chinese Medicine diagnosis and the synergy between the individual herbs.

Northern Rivers Chinese Medicine Clinic prescribes only the finest quality of Chinese herbs available. Herbal formulas are prepared by the patient with a very simple and time efficient cooking method.

Dietary Therapy


A healthy diet is necessary to provide energy for the body to have optimum health.

‘You are what you eat’ as the saying goes, but what a healthy diet is for one person is often not the case for another.

Dietary therapy is an important part of Chinese Medicine treatment and assists in treating disease.  The appropriate dietary advice is based on several factors such as the person’s constitution, the Chinese Medicine disease pattern and the time of year.  

Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of mainly food based ingredients; therefore food also has particular energetic properties and therapeutic effects. Eating according to the seasons is an important concept, as our body also changes throughout the seasons and requires the foods available during different times of the year to maintain good health.   Dietary habits are also considered and these very basic concepts have often been forgotten. These include regular meal times, being relaxed while eating, not eating too late at night and thoroughly chewing food.



Moxibustion is an externally applied Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that has been used throughout Asia for centuries. This technique involves the burning of the herb Mugwort on or near the skin to facilitate healing.

There are several different methods of applying moxibustion and often it will be used in conjunction with acupuncture. The technique used will depend on the diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient.

Moxibustion has several health benefits such as: promoting circulation to treat pain and discomfort, strengthening the body to enhance immunity and maintain general health and assisting with gynecological and digestive conditions. Moxibustion is well known in Western Medicine for its success in turning breech babies.



The therapy of cupping has been used in China for thousands of years.  Cupping is a technique in which specific cups are used with heat to create suction on the body’s surface. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass, as the air inside the cup cools. 

Where there is stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain. The cells of the body use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide; when the energy is blocked, the cell waste or carbon dioxide gets blocked. This is called acid or toxin build up. Cell waste and toxins can build up in muscles and joints and this blockage can cause further stagnation and discomfort. The suction of the cups draws the cell’s waste and toxins from the deep tissue to the skin’s surface to allow the body to remove the toxins via the superficial blood supply or capillary system. This pulling action is also encouraging fresh blood into these areas to restore nutrients and circulation to reduce pain.

The sensation of cupping is not painful and is more a feeling of suction. The first minute is the strongest as the majority of the toxins are being pulled to the skin’s surface during this period.

The severity of the toxin build up will determine the colouration and duration of the markings from the cupping. The coloration shows toxin release. The markings are not bruising of the skin due to trauma but rather the result of toxin release. When there is severe stagnation markings can be dark purple and can remain for up to 14 days.

In most cases pain relief is experienced immediately upon the removal of the cups. The area that was cupped can feel slightly tight or stiff for 24 hours after treatment.