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How Do I Study Chinese Medicine?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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In order to study Chinese medicine, one must begin by thinking about the type of Chinese medicine one finds most intriguing. There are a variety of Chinese medical techniques, including herbal healing, acupuncture, and even certain other practices designed to reorient energy in the body and surrounding area in order to maximize health. When beginning to study Chinese medicine, it is usually a good idea to start by taking a class, workshop, or other instructor-led program. More advanced study may entail traveling to China, experimentation, and additional independent reading.

One of the most common ways to study Chinese medicine is to take a class from a local practitioner of the type of medicine in which one is interested. For example, many alternative health schools offer courses in Chinese medicine that may be appropriate for a beginner, although these often require the student to enroll in the college itself. Individual practitioners also sometimes offer workshops, particularly for healing arts in which the patient also participates in healing, such as Reiki.

Some types of Chinese medicine require the individual to apply potentially dangerous herbs or to work on the body in ways that might be dangerous. These practices must usually be taught in a more formal manner. To study Chinese medicine of this type, one must usually take several courses with an alternative medicine school or travel to China in order to learn from a master. For safety, it is usually better to begin with Chinese medicine that does not entail any substance or object entering the body.

If one wishes to study the philosophy of Chinese medicine rather than the practice, it is often possible to begin independently and seek intellectual stimulation once the basics have been mastered. The Internet and many books cover the basics of all forms of Chinese medicine, and may even provide exposure to less popular forms. By having a broad basis of knowledge from a wide variety of perspectives, one is much better prepared to interact with experts in the field.

For many people interested in traditional Chinese medicine, the most appealing way to study Chinese medicine is to travel to China and learn authentic techniques. This is problematic for people who do not speak Chinese, because while one might be able to learn from people who are Chinese in China, many master healers do not speak English. When pursuing the authentic experience, it is best to begin by learning both written and spoken Chinese. Becoming fluent in Chinese opens up many possibilities for study and advancement within Chinese medicine.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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