Traditonal Chinese Medicine (TCM) Glossary


Acupuncture points on meridians are stimulated with the hands.  This is most commonly used as an adjunct to acupuncture or instead of acupuncture, on children and babies, on enereitically sensititve clients and on clients who dislike needles.


Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points along meridians.  Acupuncture has been practised in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. It is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The role of the acupuncturist is to balance the normal flow of qi in the maintenance of good health.  Acupuncture stimulates the body's healing response by influencing life force or qi; it regulates a person's spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. 
Acupuncture helps to regulate nerve transmission, enhances the immune system, regulates hormones, blood flow and releases natural anti-inflammatory substances.  According to the principles of traditional Chinese Medicine, illness is caused when qi does not flow harmoniously throughout the body.  Acupuncturists determine whether qi is weak, stagnant or otherwise out of balance. 

Acupuncture Needles:

At Nikau Room the acupuncturists use only pre-sterilised disposable single use needles and adhere to the NZRA National Skin Piercing Guidelines for Acupuncturists.

Acupuncture Points:

These are specific sites on meridians where the flow of Qi can be influenced with acupuncture, acupressure, laser, cupping, tui na or tuning forks.

Chinese Herbs:

Chinese herbalists diagnose according to traditional methods, herbal prescriptions are tailored to suit the individual.  Herbs are prescribed most commonly as an adjunct to acupuncture, assisting rebalance of the system in a multitude of ways.

Chinese herbs are prescribed a few different ways;  Combinations of 10-20 dried herbs are boiled in a decoction and drunk twice a day.  Herbs are also available as freeze dried granules and as pills or capsules.  At Nikau Room we do not use any endangered species of herbs.  Herbs imported in to New Zealand are checked by MAF, NZ Food Standards Authority and NZ Customs,  Some Chinese medicines are of animal origin such as oyster shell and minerals such as hematite are sometimes also used.


A vacuum is created in glass cups and applied to the skin.  The skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup.  The cup is left in place for 10-20 minutes then removed.  When appropriate oil is applied to the skin in which a cup is also placed, the cup is moved over the skin (sliding cup).  Cupping relieves stagnation of qi and blood and stimulates circulation in areas of the body where the cup is applied, it is most commonly applied to the back, neck, shoulders and abdomen.


As with acupuncture, needles are inserted on specific points along the meridians on the body.  The needles are then attached to a device that generates a continuous electric pulses using small clips and wires.  These devices are used to adjust the frequency and intensity of the impulse being delivered, depending on the condition being treated.  Electro-acupuncture uses two needles at a time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other.  several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously,  usually for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.  Electro-acupuncture is considered to be especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of qi or lack of qi flowing through an area due to stagnation, often seen in chronic pain syndromes. 

Five Element Acupuncture:

Five element acupuncture as with TCM helps us to understand patterns of behaviour and thought and the reflections of these in the body when there is imbalance.  When clients are on a journey of awareness or self discovery and are ready to transform old patterns and emotional blockages that no longer serve them, this system is utilised.  When the blockages shift we are reminded of how good we can feel in life.

This is great for support in times of transition and change and is suitable as an adjunct with other talking therapies. 

Food Therapy:

Nutritional therapy forms an important element of traditional Chinese medicine and is also based on restoring balance within the body.  The digestive energy is imperative in the production of qi.  Without an efficiently working digestive system (spleen qi) the body's overall energy may be compromised.  Practitioners recommend appropriate dietary changes as required, these are tailored to the individual.

Gua Sha:

Gua Sha or skin scraping is where the skin is oiled with a dispersing linament, a coin or small spoon is then scraped across the skin to cause a mild redness.  It is a dispersing technique most commonly utilised to disperse superficial wind (early onset of a cold).


Acupuncture points on meridians are stimulated with a laser light.  This is most commonly ised on points in sensitive areas, on clients who dislike needles and on children.


Meridians are conduits along which qi circulates throughout the body.  The interconnecting matrix of the meridians connects upper and lower parts of the body, left and right sides and interior to the exterior.  Meridians unify all parts of the body which is essential to remaining in a harmonious balance.   Qi is stimulated or unblocked at certain points along the meridians where the qi rises to the surface of the body.   By stimulating the qi via the acupuncture points the related body organ systems that the meridians connect with are influenced, such as heart, lung, kidney, spleen, liver etc.  Stimulation by acupuncture also influences vital substances in the body such as qi, blood, fluids, essence and hormones to maintain homeostasis or physiological balance.


A heat treatment which involves warming specific sites on the body by burning a herb Artemesia Vulgaris.  This generates warmth and stimulates circulation of qi and blood.
It is applied in several different ways; cigar shaped sticks, small balls placed on the end of needles, on top of ginger or salt, or it is burned directly on acupuncture points. 


Qi is loosely translated as energy.  All things have qi are qi and are an expression of qi.  Qi is what makes things move and is the movement itself.  In TCM the functions of qi are to transform, transport, hold, raising, protecting and warming.

Qi Gong:

Qi Gong is a system of exercises that promote the flow and cultivation of Qi, creating and supporting strong and balanced energy to protect against illness.  It calms and grounds and quells fear. Qi gong promotes movement of qi in meridians with specific movements.

Tai Qi:

This is usually known as a martial art, but one based on the development of inner strength as a means of self-defence.  It cultivates stability.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): 

TCM is a unique holistic medical system that is utilised for rebalancing disharmony, it is often utilised to strengthen your immune system  It has been in use for 3000yrs.  In TCM the life forces of Yin and Yang  are rebalanced in the body using several techniques ie (acupuncture, tui na).  In TCM meridians or pathways of energy flow through the body transporting nourishment and information to all tissues and organs.  Disease occurs when various factors disrupts the normal flow of qi.

TCM is appropriate for any age group. It can reduce symptoms of acute or chronic problems affecting the physical body, emotions or the spirit. Great side effects of acupuncture are increased energy, elevated moods and improved sleep.

Tui Na:

Tui na is a form of massage or manual therapy.  It is a modality of TCM and shares the same theories with acupuncture.  It is utilised on its own or in conjunction with other techniques like acupuncture.

Tuning Forks:

A metal two pronged fork that resonates at a specific constant pitch when struck.  The fork is then placed gently onto acupuncture points to aid and stimulate the body to rebalance the qi.   Tuning forks are calming, they help relieve body tension and assist in pain management.  The sound wave created by the tuning fork works like kinetic energy to move disharmony and tension from the body while restoring a sense of well being.  Tuning forks are frequently used on children instead of needles.  

Yin and Yang:

Yin & Yang are the key to understanding, diagnosing and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The concepts are defined as complementary opposites and can be used to describe what happens in the world around us as well as all the parts and functions of the body.  Yin is about form and substance, moistening, cooling and nourishing while Yang is about function, motive force, warmth and invigoration.  It relatesd in a sense to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of excitement and relaxation.  In TCM your Yin and Yang energies are balanced via the stimulation of qi at points along the meridians.