Limitation of TCM Therapies

1. TCM cannot cure people with unhealthy life style, such as staying up late or even overnight, excessive use of brain, accumulation of stress, depression, drinking ice water, lack of exercise, eating processed foods, excessive take of western medicine, etc.

2. Result of treatment of organic diseases is relatively poor
Records exist that TCM could cure severe life-threatening diseases such as cancer, and with great success, but there are some restricting factors: 

1) These TCM physicians are limited in number;

2) Some of such experiences are restricted by modern medicine management regulations and cannot be popularized in most places in today’s world. For instance, some prescription have been validated to be very effective in treatment of a variety of medium to advanced cancers; however, because of a crucial yet controversial TCM herb medicine of monkshood, whose toxicity is pretty large by modern standard, the difficulty in populating such prescriptions is tremendous.

(Note: once decocted in water for extended periods of time, the toxicity of monkshood is largely reduced and not comparable with that of crude monkshood, but its curative rationale of ‘counteract one toxin with another’ bear immense efficacy against a multitude of stubborn disease).

As a result, when diseases developed to the stage of organic illnesses, very few TCM physicians possess both ability and condition of treatment to restore patient’s health, while the majority of TCM physicians are powerless under such circumstances.

3. The effect is poor when both Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) and Western medicine (WM) are taken at the same time

It has long been the author’s observation that treatment effect is generally poor on patients who take both CTM and WM at the same time. The reason is these belong to medicine of two different system, between which conflicts frequently arise.

Modern WM has invented tens of thousands of drugs, the reciprocity among them are often unclear even to researchers of WM; many patients actually die of the resulting side effects every year. The reciprocity between CTM and WM is even less studied, leaving the risk of their combined usage much greater. For example, to treat cold according to “Treatise on Febrile Disease”, if diagnosed and treated properly, normally within 3 days the patient is expected to reach full recovery. But if antibiotics is taken at the same time, sometimes it would last for weeks without recovery.

This article is based on the content of “Deciphering TCM” by Tongmei Pan; the original book was written in Chinese.

Types of Moxibustion: Cone- Indirect Moxibustion

I. Moxa-cone moxibustion

2. Indirect Moxibustion
Indirect moxibustion is also called sandwiched moxibustion- before performing moxibustion, put ginger, garlic, salt, etc. on the skin at the acupoint, and then put moxa on top of it. The heat of indirect moxibustion is milder compared to direct moxibustion. Depending on the padding material and indication, it can be divided into the following categories:

(1) Ginger moxibustion (Ginger separated moxibustion):
Cut ginger into pieces of 1-2 mm in thickness, place them on acupoints, and ignite moxa cone on them. One could use a needle to puncture several small holes in the ginger slice to facilitate downward penetration of the heat. When patient feels a strong burning sensation on the skin, the moxa cone could be removed and substitute with another cone. Thickness of ginger slices can be adjusted appropriately according to strength of heat. Ginger moxibustion is mainly used to treat debilitating gastrointestinal diseases, such as indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastrointestinal neuralgia, chronic arthritis, etc.

Ginger-separated moxibustion
Ginger-separated moxibustion

(2) Garlic moxibustion (Garlic-separated moxibustion):
Garlic slices with a thickness of about 1 mm are placed on the skin, and subsequent operations are the same as ginger-separated moxibustion. This method has a significant effect on early stages of tuberculosis, non-purulent edema, insect bite, etc.

(3) Salt moxibustion (Salt-separated moxibustion):
Fill the umbilical opening with table salt, put moxa cone on the salt and perform moxibustion until sweat is out, body temperature rises, and the symptoms improve. This method is mainly suitable for treatment of prostration, deficiency and vomiting, etc.

(4) Onion moxibustion:
Cut green Chinese onion stalk into 3 to 4 mm slices, or mash onion stalk into paste, and apply it on the umbilicus and its surrounding, or directly on the affected area, and place moxa on top of it. Usually upon perform moxibustion of 5-7 cones, till patient feels warm and comfortable, but not burning pain. Onion moxibustion is suitable for symptoms such as collapse, abdominal pain, anuresis, hernia, mastitis, etc.

Onion + Salt moxibustion
Onion + Salt moxibustion

(5) Pepper moxibustion: 
Take proper amount of white pepper powder, mix with flour and water to make a coin-sized cake which sags in the center; fill with a suitable amount of powdered medicine (such as cloves, cinnamon, musk, etc.) till the center is even with the perimeter. Then place moxa cone on top and perform moxibustion. Each time do 5 to 7 cones till patient feels warm and comfortable. This method is mainly suitable for vomiting caused by cold stomach, abdominal pain and diarrhea, wind-cold-dampness arthralgia, local numbness, etc.

(6) Aconite/monkshood moxibustion: 
Soak cooked aconite/monkshood thoroughly in water, cut into slices of thickness of 3 to 5 mm, puncture small holes with a needle in the middle, place it at corresponding acupoints, and place moxa on the top. One can also cut the aconite/monkshood into small pieces, grind them, and use rice wine to make cake with size of a nickle and thickness of 4 mm, and place it on the acupoints for moxibustion. This method has a significant effect on various Yang deficiency disorders, such as impotence, premature ejaculation, nocturnal emission, chronic collapse of sores and some Yin deficiency syndromes.

Other items used for moxibustion include chives, castor bean, loess, dried orange peel, rhizoma atractylodis, euphorbia kansui, and Chinese honeylocust fruit.