A number of types of Therapies have been used in the various Traditional Medicine systems.
Regimental Therapies include those that regulate or govern the body habits, such as Diet, Exercise and Sleep. Developing good patterns in such things is an important aspect of treating various conditions.
Diet is especially important: 'All disease begins in the Stomach' (Hippocrates). Therefore, food that stops supporting Humoral imbalance must be checked before Herbal therapies are taken. At the same time, foods that strengthen the body and support the proper functioning of the body are prescribed.
Purging and Pancha-Karma
Before the body is strengthened, it must be cleansed or purged. Purging can specifically refer to purging the bowels, or more generally to cleansing the Body. Cleansing is a specific and detailed therapy, especially in Ayurveda, where it is called Pancha-Karma, the 5 methods of cleansing the body.
Cleansing is achieved by a combination of the following:
1. Oleation: oiling the body internally and externally; cleanses, lubricates, nourishes; good for Wind constitutions
Oleation may be of several types:
- Oil taken internally
- Oil used externally (massage, application, dripping)
- Oil Enema
3. Purgation: Purges Bile Humor, and toxicity from the Body
4. Enemas: regulates Wind Humor and balance the Nervous system
5. Bloodletting: clears Heat and Toxin, and purifies the Blood, renews the Blood
Herbal Medicine can be used Internally or Externally.
Internally, Herbal Medicine may be used in three main ways:
1. Cleansing or Purging
3. Tonifying or Strengthening.
In general, cleansing medicines may be required initially, and perhaps occasionally throughout treatment. They are used short-term, or they weaken the body. Tonifying medicines increase body strength, or else nourish the Qi, Blood, Yin (foundation) or Yang (activity) of the body. They may be used between purging and harmonising, and can be used in old age or convalescence to strengthen the body and prevent relapse. These are generally safe to use long term, and can be used to strengthen the body even when there is no sickness.
An old premise is that Tonifying medicines should not be used when there is a pathogen (such as an infection) or an excess of a Humor in the body. In practice, a number of classical formula from all systems combine Tonifying with Cleansing/Purging medicines to support the body while cleansing.
Harmonising medicines usually contain a mixture of cleaning and strengthening medicines. They often are aimed at harmonising the inter-relationship of 2 opposing Organs (ie. organs with different natures and whose elements are opposed) such as the Liver (Air) and Spleen (Earth), or Heart (Fire) and Kidney (Water). TCM is particularly adept at this method of treatment, and in practice, this method is most applicable today in the West.
External Medicine can be divided into a number of categories:
3. Fomentations, Washes, Baths
5. Enemas, Douches
6. Cauterising, Scarifying
7. Eye drops, Ear Candling etc.
5. Gua Sa ('Spooning' or Scraping), Ba Sa (Pinching)
5. Application of certain stones or gems etc.
Exercise, Meditation, Mantra, Spiritual Medicines
Other therapies such as specific exercises, Breathing, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Meditation, or the recital of Prayers, Mantras or Affirmations may all come under the cover of Traditional Medicine therapies. In Tibetan Medicine, the recital of Mantras is often given as a prescription by Lama physicians. This was also common is Asclepian Temples, Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and indeed most ancient cultures.