The Human body is made up of many systems, including the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems just to name a few. Each of these systems contributes to the functioning of the organism as a whole. When the systems are in balance, the body will function in harmony. Often, illness in one system will lead to disharmony in the others. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), another vital system serves as the primary diagnostic tool, as well as the main avenue for treatment: the meridian system.

Imagine the meridian system as the body’s energetic circulatory system, whereby qi, the body’s vital energy, travels. Each of the meridians intersects with one or more of the vital organs, as well as the other major systems throughout the body. When a system suffers imbalance, illness ensues, with symptoms ranging from muscle pain or headaches to infertility or autoimmune conditions. TCM practitioners are able to evaluate imbalances in the body by checking the state of qi within the meridians to determine whether the qi is deficient, excess, or blocked.

Once the imbalance in qi has been determined, small, disposable acupuncture needles are placed strategically along the meridians that correspond to the system that is experiencing disharmony. Each of the more than 350 acupuncture points has it’s own therapeutic value, and is selected as part of an acupuncture point prescription intended to treat the overall health of the patient. The acupuncture needle serves as a conduit to either tonify a deficiency or disperse an excess of qi from a particular point or meridian. Acupuncture needles are sterile and stored in unbroken packaging until just prior to use. They are discarded in a secure “sharps” container immediately upon extraction.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese medicinal herbs can be used to effectively and safely treat a large number of conditions. The Chinese herbal formula is a balanced blend of herbs from a pharmacopeia of more than 500 single herbs. Each herb is imbued with the qualities of taste and temperature, such as hot, cold, bitter, and sweet. Within the formula, the individual herbs are assigned a role, such as deputy, assistant, and chief. Some formulas have been in use for as long as three thousand years.

The classic herbal formulas are modified to suit the needs of each patient by adding or subtracting ingredients. Formulas are carefully balanced in order to alleviate any side effects. The herbal formula can be administered in the form of pills, powders, or teas. When creating your personal formula, your practitioner will consider the most effective and manageable method of delivery for you. To avoid potentially harmful herb/drug interactions, it is important to inform your practitioner of any medications you are taking.

Western Medicine

In California, all practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM) are rigorously educated in western medicine. Subjects include anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, western clinical medicine, and interpretation of lab data. As a result, LA Herbs & Acupuncture practitioners are able to work in an integrative manner with our patients and their medical doctors to enhance treatment protocols and speed healing. Most western diagnoses can be transposed into a TCM pattern, allowing us to provide you with truly comprehensive care.

Chinese Cupping

Cupping is the application of small cups on the skin surface via suction. This therapy is said to enhance the superficial circulation, and is particularly useful in treating pain associated with arthritis or minor sprains. Cupping is also indicated in some cases of lung disease, such as cough and asthma. Although the procedure itself is painless, please be advised that cupping therapy will leave a mark resembling a bruise on the skin for a period of time ranging from three days to two weeks.


Moxibustion is a dried herbal preparation, which is often rolled in paper, and looks like a cigar. The moxa roll is then burned as a way of applying heat over acupuncture points, or over a general area of the body, such as the abdomen. Moxibustion is said to relieve pain and fatigue caused by cold or overwork, and is used as a preventative measure.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a method of scraping the skin with a special tool. Gua Sha can be used to reduce fever, and is quite effective in alleviating muscle stiffness and certain types of headache. Please be advised that gua sha will leave a red, rash-like mark on the skin for up to five days.

Learn more about Gua Sha here (opens in new window)


Chinese massage, called Tui-Na, may be used to assess injuries, and to assist in treatment. Tui –Na is a gentle series of massage maneuvers designed to restore mobility in joints, and to stimulate circulation in the tendons and muscles. Other methods of bodywork, such as cranial-sacral therapy, myofascial release and acupressure may also be woven into a treatment if so indicated.