Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5,000 years. Acupuncture is the most unique part of Chinese Medicine so it gets the most attention, but actually, under California law, we are primary care practitioners and there are different branches to our medicine enabling us to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Depending on the need of the patient, we might use herbs, nutrition, Qi gong, meditation , moxa, physical therapy, and cupping.
Acupuncture, one aspect of TCM, is one of the oldest known systems of healing. To this day, more people are treated with acupuncture than any other medical system in the world.
Although it may seem complicated at first, acupuncture theory can be broken down into a couple of basic concepts:

Acupuncture is based on the belief that everything is interconnected. The mind, body, spirit, and organ systems are all dependent on each other for balance and harmony.

  1. You were born with a certain amount of basic energy. Think of this as your genetic material.
  2. Every day you bring energy into your body in the form of air, food, and drink.
  3. All of this energy (the basic, the air, the food and the drink) gets mingled together and is distributed to every part of your body.
  4. That energy does not travel at random. It follows a prescribed course to make sure that every body part gets the energy it needs to function.
  5. Acupuncture scholars throughout history have broken this prescribed course of energy down into different pathways, called meridians.
  6. Along these meridians, there are specific points where energy tends to collect. These are the acupuncture points.
  7. Inserting fine needles into these points will have various effects on the energy as it travels through the meridians.

What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is a completely separate branch of Chinese Medicine.  It is a highly refined skill and considered an art in traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese herbalism, like Acupuncture, is unique in that it allows practitioners to create specific prescription formulas appropriate to your individual conditions and constitution.


Herbal medicines may be made from the whole plant or from parts of the plant such as bark, fruit, stem, root or seed.  You may think that taking roots and leaves is a weird thing but many Western Medicine pharmaceuticals are plant derived.  For instance, Aspirin comes from willow tree bark. Digitalis, a heart drug, is from the foxglove plant, and Morphine is from the opium poppy.  We’re just not used to seeing it in that form.


Chinese Medicine uses the herb in its natural state along with other herbs, making it easy for the body to process, usually with no side effects.  In comparison, pharmaceutical companies activate and isolate one or two compounds from an herb and then make it more powerful.  This leads to quick results with great efficacy; however, this also leads to the myriad of side effects that we see with Western medication.  In Chinese medicine, a patient is getting the benefits of aspirin from the willow bark, but they are also ingesting the hundreds of other bio-chemicals naturally found in the bark which balance its effect.  However, there is a time and place to use each system and both contribute amazing benefits to modern medicine.

Here at Blue Path Acupuncture, herbs are only bought from companies that chemically test each batch for heavy metals, pesticides, and for correct herbal ID authenticity.

Here are some examples of commonly used herbs:

Arnica used topically for bruises, sprains, sore muscles and joints

Ginger ingested for nausea, morning and motion sickness and as an anti-inflammatory

Turmeric (take w/black pepper to increase effectiveness) ingested to combat inflammation and protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Qi Gong: A bit like tai chi, Qi gong is a practice of physical and mental discipline.  It is a time-honored exercise method of addressing many heath issues while enhancing one’s physical and mental vitality.  Through a process centered on pleasant, flowing movements, one gathers Qi (pronounced Chee) – the life force- and directs that energy to specific organs and parts of the body.   Ask your practitioner for simple introductory Qi gong exercises.

Cupping: In cupping, a glass or plastic cup is suctioned onto the body and kept in place for about 10 minutes. This stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and relaxes tight muscles.

Nutrition and Stress Reduction Counseling:  We offer diet and lifestyle analysis to get you running at your optimal you.

Gua Sha: Physical Therapist call it the Graston Technique, is a vigorous rubbing of the skin using a specialized scraping instrument to increase blood flow, break up scar tissue and clear stagnant Qi.

Gua Sha literally means “scrape away heat”. Gua Sha is used for many ailments from muscle aches, to fevers to digestive and gynecological issues.

Tui na: pronounced (tōō·ē nä) is the Chinese Medicine version of physical therapy.  It is a mix between massage, joint manipulation, and acupressure (the applied pressure to acupuncture points).  It is particularly good at breaking up scar adhesions and for acute and chronic pain associated with the muscles, joints, and skeletal system.   It also helps such conditions as arthritis, sciatica, muscle spasms, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders and chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches (including migraines), and the tension associated with stress.

As with other styles of Asian bodywork, Tui Na is designed to prevent problems, not just correct them. By keeping the body’s energy in balance, health is maintained. This is true for physical health, as well as for mental and emotional well-being as well.

Moxibustion: A technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to heat an acupuncture point, particularly in the treatment of certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a cigar shaped stick, lit, and held over specific areas of the body.

Electro-Acupuncture: Acupuncture needles are used to conduct small electrical currents. This technique, often used in conjunction with acupuncture, has been proven to decrease pain, accelerate healing, and significantly reduce inflammation, edema and swelling.

Tai chi:  A moving meditation practiced for thousands of years.