It appears there are many who have never been exposed to the Chinese Healing Arts. This article was written to give these folks a basic overview of forms of therapeutics utilized in the Chinese Healing Arts.. I am attempting to keep this simple with basic instead of complex wording.
Although there are many approaches to therapeutics inside both Traditional & Classic Chinese Medicine, I think it safe to say the concept of Qi is an underlying aspect of most of these forms. In this topic, we can define Qi as the life flow of energetics.
A bit of history:
What is now called Traditional Chinese Medicine differs greatly from what many call Classical Chinese Medicine. Unfortunately, the communists, in efforts to "standardize", have "dumbed down" what is now taught in the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) schools, dictating a specific wording and methodology. Beyond this, we have the CCM (Classical Chinese Medicine) which include many almost-lost forms and advanced concepts. For example, the current style of acupuncture taught in TCM differs greatly from advanced needling concepts taught in CCM, Another example is advanced therapeutics forms like "Chinese Taoist Medicine" which would fall under CCM and be virtually unknown in TCM.
Although this article is not meant to be comprehensive, there are several categories which we could break down into a few basic categories:
Actually, there is no real word for "acupuncture" as the word is an invented westernized term. But we are referring to needling. Most people in the west have heard of and many have utilized this therapeutic form. But we should realize that the practitioners of TCM are generally practicing a completely different approach than those who practice CCM.
Also we should include moxa therapy here, which is performed by burning an herbal/base which adds intense heat to "acupuncture points" which are energy vortices that tap into the energy distribution system of the body. The main concept of acupuncture is to balance this energy distribution system.
An internet search will list many studies done on acupuncture.
2) Chinese Herbal Medicine
There are over 5,000 items in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Although often referred to as "Chinese Herbal Medicine" These consist of herbs, minerals, and animal by-products or parts. Needless to say this can get very complicated and it is not suggested for people to experiment with this therapeutic form as the combinations utilized are quite powerful and if not monitored by a knowledgeable practitioner could potentially do more harm than good.
An internet search will list much information on Chinese Herbal Medicine.
3) Tui Na & Acupressure
Tui Na is the advanced massage form of TCM & CCM. Many hospitals in China have Tui Na departments. It is utilized therapeutically to treat a wide variety of conditions and is extremely effective. It is not as widely known in the west as acupuncture but in China it is ranked right up there at the top of therapeutic forms.
Also the term "Anmo" is utilized to refer to Chinese Massage techniques.
Acupressure is generally referring to finger pressure (mostly thumb) to the acupoints and has the same goal as acupuncture.
4) Medical Qigong
The term "medical qigong" covers the many energetic forms of therapeutics utilized in the Qigong Hospitals of China. Also, many of the hospitals have a Medical Qigong department. It is a highly-specialized and extremely effective therapeutic form with an almost unprecedented therapeutic efficacy. Its use has been proven through several decades of Chinese hospitals and clinics as well as through its vast history of development. It refers to what is called Wai Qi Liao Fa which means "healing with external energy". Most of the forms utilize off-body energy projection although some incorporate on-body techniques.
There are also advanced and specialized forms of Medical Qigong. An example of one which has been introduced to the West is Chinese Taoist Medicine, which is a neuro-energetic bodywork form based on medical qigong application of/to the complete neurological system of the body. Forms like this are not as well known as the general medical qigong, but even medical qigong itself is not as widely known in the west as forms like acupuncture.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the self-practice of energetics called Qigong. Although not an applied therapeutic form, this self-practice has proven itself in benefits to millions of people across the world.
Since medical qigong is not as widely known I will list some research suggestions:
http://qigonginstitute.org/html/database.php This is a compilation of research abstracts, a project of Dr Ken Sancier, and includes abstracts from studies performed all over the world which includes the many studies done in China. Dr Sancier was well known for his research at Stanford Research Institute.
http://qigonginstitute.org/html/scientificbasis.php#Medical Research This page has many good articles on qigong and energy medicine.
There are several schools of medical/clinical qigong in the USA. In China, after the fallout of falun gong challenging the communist government, the governmental policies have resulted in the closing of many of the dedicated qigong hospitals and suppression of information concerning medical qigong. What was once mainstream in the 80's and 90's and demonstrating tremendous growth is now a shadow of itself in China.
To sum this posting, I would suggest to each person reading that they open their minds to the concept of "world medicine" and not dismiss these amazing therapeutic forms from China. Unfortunately many people are still under the mistaken impression that allopathic western medicine is the only "proven" form of medicine. This simply is not so. Although scientific investigation and study is valuable, history of use has over and over again proven to be our ally in investigating the validity of medicinal therapeutics. Just look at the many western allopathic compounds that were proven by scientific study to be safe and have efficacy which were later proven, through history of use, to be harmful with no efficacy. These Chinese medicine forms have a vast history of use in proving their safety and efficacy and are now being investigated through the western scientific model.