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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Alternative Medicine: Tuina: Ancient pain relief meets modern life

Tuina (pronounced "twee-naa") has been used widely in traditional medicine clinics and hospitals in China as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan for thousands of years. The knowledge and skill has been accumulated and improved throughout its very long history. Tuina is a form of Chinese manual medicine. It is commonly used to prevent and treat disease by removing obstructions and increasing vital energy, called Qi ("chee"), through manual methods, herbal remedies, heat pads, cupping and moxibustion.

Tuina practitioners are trained in five-year educational programs in traditional medicine colleges in China. After graduation, they serve additional apprenticeships under close supervision of experienced Tuina practitioners. Retired Tuina doctors often come to teach and pass their experience to other doctors and discuss difficult cases.

Tuina medicine is increasingly used to promote circulation, reset the relationship between bones and their surrounding tissues, increase joint flexibility, heal soft tissue and sport injuries, and balance Yin-Yang function of internal organs.

Tuina is a unique and independent medicine used for preventive as well as therapeutic purposes for both chronic and acute diseases. Diseases and conditions addressed in the U.S. by Tuina practitioners include back pain, sciatic pain, headache, muscle tightness, frozen shoulder, neck pain, tennis elbow, insomnia, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, stroke recovery, joint dislocation, poor childhood appetite and even the common cold.

To find a qualified and well-rounded Tuina expert, look for an experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who is well versed in traditional Chinese herbs and also has the LAc credential, which stands for "Licensed Acupuncturist."

Benjamin Apichai, MS, MD (China); LAc; Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Bastyr is a non-profit, private university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. The university's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, is the Northwest's largest natural medicine clinic. Go to bastyr.edu or bastyrcenter.org.

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