TCM: Everything you need to know

Although TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine has existed for centuries, this Aerinlé guide is here to help the unacquainted.

TCM: Everything you need to know

Dictionary definition

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is an ancient Chinese healing system that incorporates therapy and treatment focused on strengthening the body’s immunity and enhancing its capacity for healing.

The main guiding principal of TCM is that the human body interacts with all aspects of life and the environment, including the weather, our diet, the time of day and emotional states. In TCM, the key to good health is in the harmonious and balanced functioning of the body, mind and spirit. It also ascribes to the fact that the balance of health depends on the unobstructed flow of qi or “life energy” through the body, along meridians. TCM practitioners see diseases as the manifestation of disruptions in the circulation of qi.

What are the types of TCM treatments?

Treatments under TCM include the ingestion of herbal formulas, moxibustion, tuina, acupressure and acupuncture, and cupping. Most times, treatments prescribed by TCM practitioners combine two or more of these methods.

Moxibustion involves burning a cigar-shaped stick made of mugwort or wormwood. It is then held near acupuncture points to stimulate them with heat and improve the flow of qi. It is often used along with acupuncture.

Tuina is a form of massage therapy that aims to open blockages in the body and stimulate movement in the meridians and muscles. Practitioners may brush, knead, roll, press and rub areas between the arm and leg joints before stimulating acupressure points.

Acupressure does not involve needles. Rather, practitioners use pressure to stimulate acupuncture points and meridians to release tension, and promote the circulation of blood and qi.

Cupping involves placing special cups heated with air on painful areas of the body. As the cups cool, the volume of air within shrinks, creating suction on the skin that increases blood flow to the area. It is used to alleviate symptoms of coughing and wheezing. It also improves circulation and reduces menstrual pains.

What conditions can it treat?

TCM is believed to be able to treat health conditions stemming from multiple causes. These include metabolic diseases, chronic and degenerative conditions (such as knee arthritis). Some herbal formulas are used to treat allergies and asthma. It is also used to ward off addiction to cigarettes and drugs.

Is TCM for you?

TCM is considered a non-invasive and natural form of health therapy. Within Singapore and most of Asia, it is typically considered as a form of holistic treatment.

Since 2000, practitioners in Singapore need to be registered with the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board. In addition, all its pills and solutions are regulated by the Health Sciences Authority, and must comply with criteria detailing safety and quality before they can be sold in Singapore.

Studies have shown that TCM therapy can treat a wide range of conditions. It can be used as a primary care method or adjective therapy to maximise healing and promote well-being.

As with using any type of medical treatment, it is always best to practice discretion. If you experience side effects that are not normal to the application of the treatment, stop the course and consult your TCM practitioner.

TCM clinics in Singapore:

  • Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinic, various locations including 273 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058822 (
  • Raffles Chinese Medicine, 585 North Bridge Road, Level 2 Raffles Hospital, Singapore 188770 (
  • Ma Kwang Chinese Medicine & Research Centre, various locations including 59 New Bridge Road, #01-01, Singapore 059405 (
  • Thomson Chinese Medicine, various locations including 339 Thomson Road, #03-01 Thomson Medical Centre, Singapore 307677 (

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