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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

19 Dec 2017

Going to a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hall can be like a museum trip. There are interesting specimens like Chinese herbs, mushrooms or even flying lizards all lined up in their jars. As surprising as it can be, they have hidden medicinal value!

Have you ever been intrigued to try traditional Chinese Medicine?

TCM has a long history in Singapore. There are many TCM clinics around the little red dot with experienced and qualified practitioners. From herbal medicine to acupuncture, acupressure and tui na massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a popular method. This can sometimes sound a bit old fashioned, but they are actually constantly being revised with modern science and technology. Many people turn to TCM as they wish to avoid the chemicals in Western medicine, for example during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What are the foundations of TCM?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees the whole body as an interconnected energetic system. A proper flow of energy or qi (氣) in this energetic system, brings harmony and health to the body. However, when the flow of qi is disrupted, disharmony can occur and can result in diseases and pain.

There are six pathogenic influences in Chinese Medicine. When these influences exceed the body’s ability to tolerate them, there can be an imbalance in the flow of qi. The six pathogenic influences are: cold (寒), heat (火), dampness (濕), dryness (燥), summer heat (暑) and wind (風).

If you’re coughing, your lungs might be too “cold”. Instead of  treating the cough itself, the medicine prescribed with TCM will take care of that “hidden” issue. By nipping problems in the bud, there is less chance for the trouble to reappear. It is better to prevent the complication rather than cure it, and could save some medical fees!

What is a visit to TCM like?

Unlike western doctors who usually ask you your reason to visit, TCM doctors watch you the moment you step in. Indeed, your posture reveals whether you have good energy, the aspect of your tongue, the color of your fingernails indicate whether you are healthy overall. The doctor will check different pulse points, and not only one as you would experience with Western doctors, to find out if the corresponding organs are well. This way, you get a more complete diagnosis not only about the area experiencing symptoms.

If you find yourself unable to get good sleep, get for example Lingzhi (a kind of mushroom) capsules to manage your insomnia rather than sleeping pills – they may cause side effects like diarrhoea and daytime tiredness. Its calming effect will help you sleep better, all while improving your immunity.

What about the cost of TCM?

Usually when you walk out of the doctor’s room after consultation, if needed you will get medication in a form of a powder that you will have to mix with hot water. Tailor made for you, with some of the curious products available in the jars. Not very tasty, but if it is efficient, you’ll have to bear with it! The total bill, consultation and medicines is in average SGD 50.


To find out more about healthcare topics in Singapore you can check our articles. To understand, how your health insurance plans cover healthcare costs, you can approach UEX‘s happiness team by email or by phone for more information and guidance – and the good news is that they are super nice!

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