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Answers to Your Questions about Traditional Chinese Medicine

As you might have learned already, our mission at NuTraditions is to draw on the ancient herbal wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine to create high-tech formulations that are convenient for today’s busy modern life. There’s nothing we love more than helping explain the benefits and wisdom of TCM to those who trust and love our products. That’s why we’re answering your questions about Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Our Connection to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our products are fast-acting, easy to take — and crafted from traditional, high quality ingredients. Our delivery methods are innovative, but our connection to TCM runs deep. Our founder’s grandmother, Dr. Bing Yin Lee, earned her medical license in China in 1935 (back when few women went to university, let alone medical school!) and, decades later, became one of the first licensed acupuncturists in California. We honor her legacy, never sacrificing tradition or potency for the sake of convenience.

At its core, TCM is about getting to the root cause of any imbalance in mind, body or spirit, and that’s what we set out to do as well. Keep reading to learn more about TCM and how it informs the products you know and trust.

1. Why are herbs used in formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Very few herbs are used individually in TCM. Instead, they are often combined into formulas. Why? Balance. TCM views your body as a scaled-down universe, with a holistic goal of maintaining balance or equilibrium. Combining herbs into formulas allows them to work together, using the entourage effect.

Take, for example, our Hello Dreams™ sleep strips with Melatonin and Calm Down™ herbal blend. Each ingredient is like an instrument, but together they form a symphony. Some herbs are like first chair violin, while others are more like percussionists. If a single one is missing, the end result wouldn’t be the same. 

2. Can Traditional Chinese Medicine be combined with Western style health care?

Absolutely — Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used on its own or with Western health care. These days, you might find MDs who have also earned their TCM degrees, or who work alongside an acupuncturist or herbalist. As with any new habit or supplement, you’ll want to discuss changes with your health-care provider. 

When seeking out a TCM practitioner, look for someone who is board-certified, licensed in your state, with a cultural and educational connection to the practice.

3. What does it take to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor?

The requirements to become licensed vary from state to state and country to country. However, the education is extensive and at the graduate level. In the US, TCM involves three to four years of full-time, post-graduate study, culminating in board certification (similar to what doctors and other health-care providers undergo). 

While other practitioners can be licensed to offer herbs or acupuncture in some states, this isn’t the same as being a trained TCM practitioner or doctor.

4. Why is it still called Traditional Chinese Medicine?

TCM has roots that date back millennia — but like any study, it has evolved over the centuries and years. It’s still called “Traditional” Chinese Medicine because the core beliefs and philosophies haven’t changed, even while the tools and delivery methods have evolved with modern science and technology.  Learn more about the roots of TCM 101.

5. What are yin and yang?

In its simplest form, yin and yang are the two opposing forces in the universe that are always working to achieve and maintain balance. Yin focuses on stillness and rest, while yang focuses on action and movement. In an ideal world, we maintain a balance of the two.

6. Why are the elements important?

That goes back to the idea of you as a whole (small but complete) universe. Not only are you influenced by the five elements (fire, earth, wood, metal and water), but you’re also influenced by colors, seasons, tastes, emotions, environmental factors (wind, cold, damp, dry and heat) and more.  
Learn more in our blogs, 5 Healthy Fall Habits, Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ancient Wisdom Now: 4 Simple Wellness Tips and Tricks for Spring, which explain how different aspects of our lives need more attention at certain times of year.

7. What is a tongue diagnosis?

Like your family doctor, your TCM practitioner might ask you to stick out your tongue. Instead of simply saying “ah,” they’ll closely inspect the shape, color, coating and other aspects. 

TCM uses the wellness of the tongue to keep tabs on other organ systems and conditions in the body.

8. What is gua sha?

You might have seen this TCM practice on Instagram or TikTok, where wellness influencers massage their faces using jade rollers or scraping tools. Gua sha is a traditional form of massage that involves scraping the skin using specialized tools that improve circulation, help with pain and more.

9. What is a classic herbal formula?

As you might imagine, with a history as rich and deep as TCM’s, there are, in fact, plenty of go-to and time-tested herbal combinations. TCM has a whole system for classifying herbs — based on their qualities, benefits, etc. 

Ginseng, for example, is known as the King of Adaptogens, and it is highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ginseng has been used for millennia in TCM to support health and well-being in numerous ways. Ginseng is also classified as an adaptogen, part of a category of herbs that can support your mind and body as they adapt to stress.*

Over time, TCM practitioners found that certain formulas yielded certain benefits — so these became their tried-and-true remedies. It doesn’t mean that other herbs can’t be combined in new and different ways, but TCM blends often tap into the practice’s rich history when choosing ingredients. 

10. How can I make sure I’m getting good quality herbs?

The same rules apply whether you’re buying TCM herbs, Ayurvedic herbs or those used in American herbalism — look for herbs that come from companies that can tell you where they source their ingredients.

NuTraditions Good Morning Sunshine adaptogen + coffee with ginseng

For example, as a root herb, ginseng spends most of its life in the ground, making the quality of the soil extra important. (We recommend always choosing organic ginseng or any root.) We grow our USDA Certified Organic red ginseng ourselves, on land we control and monitor. 
This blog, about choosing the best format for herbal supplements, will also help you learn to spot a good one.

11. How can I know my TCM herbs are safe?

Any time you take a new-to-you herbal supplement, you should do your homework to make sure you’re getting a safe, quality product. Finding brands you can trust, who offer proof and peace of mind, can go a long way (since who has time to do a deep dive every time you want to try something new). 

Take Hello Dreams™ sleep strips for example: The herbs found within Calm Down™  are skillfully crafted using the latest technologies and the highest safety standards. We perform a multitude of tests to ensure the herbs in our sleep strips are as intended, including testing for more than 200 unwanted pesticides and various methods of identity verification. Plus, our quality control team meticulously ensures our proprietary formula is consistent from batch to batch. At NuTraditions, your safety is always our priority.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.