Understanding Meridians and How They’re Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Understanding Meridians and How They’re Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

If you are interested in studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or are familiar with some of its practices, you may have heard of the term “meridian”. One of the key aspects of TCM, meridians are channels through which energy — known as Qi — flows in the body. In this blog, we’ll explore the basics of meridians, explaining what they are, why they are important and how they are treated.


What are meridians?


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, meridians are thought to be pathways or channels through which vital energy flows in the body. Meridians connect our various organs, tissues and physiological functions and are believed to be essential in maintaining health and balance. 


There are 12 primary meridians in TCM, each associated with a specific organ and one of the five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal or water. There are also said to be 2 extraordinary vessels, that are secondary to the 12 meridians and play a crucial role in the regulation of Qi and overall balance in the body. These vessels are known as the Governing Vessel (Du Mai) and the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai). 


Understanding Qi flow


According to TCM, Qi refers to any living thing’s life force or vital energy. The idea is popular not only in Chinese medicine but also in martial arts and Chinese philosophy. Qi is thought to circulate along specific pathways or meridians in the body, and imbalances or blockages in the flow of Qi are believed to contribute to poor health or feelings of negativity. Chinese medicine practitioners are trained to recognise blockages in Qi and recommend a treatment plan to address these issues. 


Types of meridians


Let’s unpack the 12 meridians, their purpose in the body and what occurs when they are imbalanced:


    1. Lung Meridian: associated with the element of metal, the lung meridian is responsible for regulating the respiratory system. An imbalance in the Qi flow here may result in shortness of breath, coughing or other respiratory issues. It can also affect the skin, leading to conditions like eczema or excessive sweating.
  • Large Intestine Meridian: this meridian is also associated with the metal element. The large intestine meridian governs digestion and influences the immune system. Imbalances can cause digestive issues and susceptibility to infection.
  • Stomach Meridian: associated with the element of earth, the stomach meridian is responsible for digestion and the transformation of nutrients in the body. Imbalance may result in digestive problems, including indigestion, bloating, or a lack of appetite. Emotional symptoms such as worry or overthinking may also be present.
  • Spleen Meridian: connected to the earth element, the spleen meridian governs the absorption of nutrients, influences the immune system and regulates blood circulation. Any imbalances may cause digestive issues, fatigue and weakened immune function. Similar to the stomach meridian, blockages in the spleen may cause emotional symptoms related to anxiety. 
  • Heart Meridian: associated with fire, the heart meridian governs blood circulation and controls consciousness. When this meridian is out of balance it may manifest in heart palpitations, insomnia, anxiety and depression. 
  • Small Intestine Meridian: also connected to the fire element, the small intestine regulates the flow of fluids in the body. An imbalance can result in abdominal pain or discomfort as well as emotional symptoms such as feelings of insecurity or indecision. 
  • Bladder Meridian: this meridian is associated with the element of water. The bladder meridian governs the removal of toxins from the body and influences the nervous system. Lack of balance here can lead to urinary problems and issues with the nervous system, which may lead to anxiety or restlessness. 
  • Kidney Meridian: also associated with the water element, the kidney meridian regulates testosterone levels and influences bone marrow and blood health. Blockages can impact reproductive health and bone health. 
  • Pericardium Meridian: connected to the fire element, the pericardium meridian is responsible for protecting the heart, ensuring proper function and emotional balance. When it is imbalanced, heart-related issues, emotional disturbances, or symptoms related to blood circulation may manifest. 
  • Triple Warmer Meridian: as the name suggests, this meridian is also associated with the fire element. The triple warmer meridian coordinates the activities and metabolism of the upper middle and lower body and promotes general wellness. Imbalance may affect the coordination of body functions, leading to issues with fluid metabolism or temperature regulation. 
  • Gallbladder Meridian: associated with the wood element, the gallbladder meridian controls the digestion of fats and regulates the removal and storage of toxins produced by the liver. Blockages in this meridian may result in digestive issues as well as emotional symptoms such as irritability or lack of courage. 
  • Liver Meridian: finally, the liver meridian, connected to the element of wood, is responsible for regulating the female reproductive system and the circulation of energy. It also maintains the flexibility of ligaments and tendons. Imbalances in this meridian can affect reproductive health and emotional wellbeing. 


Treating imbalanced meridians 


The balance of Qi is essential for maintaining health, and imbalances or blockages in the meridians are believed to lead to various health issues. TCM uses several approaches such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, Qi Gong and more to address these issues and promote well-being. 

At SITCM, we are proud to offer affordable Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations and treatments to address Qi imbalance. Make an appointment at our teaching clinic to chat with our qualified TCM practitioners or if you’re interested in making a career in TCM, contact us to learn more about our Diploma or Bachelor level courses.


TCM Tips for 2024 Based on Your Zodiac Animal

TCM Tips for 2024 Based on Your Zodiac Animal

Did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the Chinese zodiac share many similarities? Both systems are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and philosophy, and share a common framework that emphasises balance and harmony with the five elements. Historically, TCM practitioners even considered a person’s astrological sign when assessing their health. For the Year of the Wood Dragon, we’ve compiled a list of general TCM tips for each of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals so you can make 2024 your year! 


Please remember that these are general tips and individual health conditions and constitutions may vary. Always consult with a healthcare professional such as a qualified TCM practitioner at our teaching clinic in Sydney for personalised advice.


Year of the Wood Dragon


Beginning on February 10th 2024, the Year of the Wood Dragon is expected to be very transformative. The only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac, dragons are said to symbolise great power and strength, creativity and wisdom. Likewise, the 2024 Lunar New Year promises, for those who choose to embrace it, a year of spiritual growth and fresh starts. However, with so much energy in the air, challenges such as burnout, frustration and impulsivity are more likely. It’s advised that all of the zodiac signs practice patience this year, and learn how to be more adaptable to change. 



(1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)


In one of the Chinese zodiac legends, whereby each of the 12 animals was tasked with crossing a river the fastest, the quick-thinking Rat placed first. This was thanks to the Rat’s clever approach of using the generous Ox to carry them across and then jumping from the Ox at the last minute. Based on this legend, Rats are described as intelligent and resourceful, but prone to anxiety. In the Year of the Wood Dragon, where the Rat’s anxious energy may be exacerbated, stress reduction techniques like meditation or tai chi are highly recommended. As well as this, warming (Yang) foods like ginger and cinnamon are great for improving circulation and calming the nervous system. If you are a Rat individual, engaging in stimulating activities like puzzles or crafts may help prevent overthinking.   



(1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)


As mentioned above, it’s the Ox’s sturdy and determined nature that allowed them to cross the river second of all the zodiac animals. While this personality trait lends itself to passion and dedication, gentle exercises like swimming, yoga or walking can help the Ox from becoming too rigid. In 2024, Ox individuals in particular are encouraged to be more versatile and open. Focus on incorporating spleen-nourishing foods such as oats, as well as herbal teas and bitter vegetables to support liver health, as both the spleen and liver have a greater impact on the Ox’s Qi.  



(1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)


Third to cross the river, the Tiger is described as being an energetic and intense individual. In the Year of the Wood Dragon, they are encouraged to embrace their outdoorsy spirit and spend time hiking in nature, while managing their mental health through activities such as deep-breathing exercises or Qigong. In terms of diet, circulation and heart health should be their number one priority, with an emphasis on red foods like cherries and warming ingredients such as basil and garlic.  



(1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023)


Said to be the luckiest of all the Zodiac animals, the Rabbit is described as being gentle and responsible but sensitive to criticism. They can also be prone to worry and hence are advised to approach the Year of the Dragon with a positive outlook, using methods such as gratitude journaling, calming bedtime routines and even aromatherapy. Heart-nourishing foods such as berries and dark chocolate as well as cooling Yin foods like cucumbers and watermelon are recommended to improve the Rabbit’s emotional balance and well-being in 2024. 



(1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024)


Dragons — 2024 is your year! Despite this, there are still plenty of obstacles to look out for. While Dragons are said to be energetic and ambitious, they tend to become easily frustrated when things don’t go their way. Slowing down and focusing on activities like yoga can help ground them. Closely connected to the stomach, Dragon individuals are advised to stick to a diet filled with warming Yang foods such as soups and teas, as well as raw foods like vegetables and nuts. 



(1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)


Quiet and strategic, in the zodiac legend the Snake was able to slither into sixth place by sneaking up on the Horse and scaring them into seventh place. Likewise, stepping back and observing their surroundings is recommended for Snake individuals to remain grounded. If they remain patient, they’ll be open to new and exciting possibilities and experience a year filled with wisdom and growth. Receiving acupuncture and munching on leafy green vegetables is recommended to support emotional well-being and prevent stagnation.  



(1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)


Known for their open-mindedness and perceptiveness, the Horse is predicted to have a positive 2024. They are advised to channel their friendly, dynamic energy into constructive outlets such as regular physical activity, to enhance their already agile mental and physical strength. Due to their tendency to overextend themselves, Horse individuals should prioritise self-care and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. A diet that features lean proteins and whole grains will help them sustain energy throughout the year. 



(1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)


Year of the Goat individuals are artistic and sympathetic but can also be shy and pessimistic. In 2024, they are encouraged to focus on stress management through activities such as arts and crafts — which favour their creative interests — and spending more time in nature to maintain inner peace. Foods high in fibre are recommended, to nourish their dominant organ the small intestine, as well as dark leafy greens and tofu to nourish their Yin nature. 



(1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)


Inventive and sociable, the Monkey was able to work with some of the other animals to secure ninth place in the zodiac legend. While they are known for their adaptability, in 2024, Monkey individuals should be cautious not to spread themselves too thin. Staying grounded through activities such as gardening and yoga can help them maintain stability. To keep them on their toes, walnuts and fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can help support brain health and prevent mental fatigue during this jam-packed year.



(1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)


The Rooster is hard-working and eccentric, if not at times a little overbearing. Finding moderation in work and lifestyle is essential for them in 2024 and practices such as acupuncture can assist in some much-needed muscle relaxation. Associated with the metal element, a diet consisting of foods such as ginger, garlic, pears and daikon radish can help maintain good lung health and alleviate tension. 



(1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)


Loyal and honest, the Dog in the legend found the river water too enjoyable and distracting and so casually swam into eleventh place. Similarly, the logic in life for these individuals is simple but prone to emotional turbulence. Regular exercise, adequate rest and stress-reducing activities can help keep their nervous systems on an even keel. Consuming foods that nourish the kidneys, such as black beans and seaweed, can support a Dog individual’s energy levels and emotional resilience throughout the Year of the Wood Dragon.



(1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)


In the river-crossing legend, similar to the Dog, the Pig became too distracted by food during the race, deciding to eat and have a nap instead and effectively landing themselves in last place. Just like the Pig in the story, individuals born in these years are laid back but prone to self-indulgence. In a year filled with possibilities and change, Pig individuals are encouraged to focus on portion control and practice moderate exercise to maintain overall health. They should embrace their social natures as usual, but be cautious of overcommitting in an already hectic year.


The Year of the Wood Dragon offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery. By incorporating these general TCM tips, individuals can navigate the transformative energy of 2024 with balance, resilience and overall well-being. However, if at any time you feel imbalanced, be sure to make an appointment at our teaching clinic to chat with our qualified TCM practitioners. Alternatively, if you’re interested in finding out more about ancient Chinese philosophy and making a career in TCM, contact us to learn more about our Diploma or Bachelor level courses. May the year ahead bring you health, happiness and prosperity! 


13 Everyday Ingredients Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

When you hear the term “Traditional Chinese Medicine” you may immediately think of acupuncture, cupping, remedial massage or Tai Chi. What you may forget are the many herbal remedies used in TCM, which are actually very common and accessible! Many of these everyday ingredients are likely already in your fridge or pantry at home. In this blog, we’ll talk about 13 of them, their properties, and how they’re used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  1. Ginger (Sheng Jiang)


Referred to in TCM as a natural antibiotic, ginger is considered a warming or yang food. Yang foods are generally sweet, spicy and pungent and are recommended during colder winter months to regulate warmth in the body. Ginger is said to aid digestion, reduce nausea and alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It can improve the spleen and raise Qi and yang energy in the body. One common usage of ginger is in tea, with the aim to create warmth and comfort. 

2. Cinnamon (Gui Zhi)


Like ginger, cinnamon is considered a warming ingredient and is also used to strengthen yang in the body. It may ease pain, nourish Qi and assist with blood circulation. Cinnamon supports the kidneys and spleen and is even said to ease signs of early ageing. With its sweet and woody flavour, cinnamon is a wonderful addition to healthy desserts, especially those containing apples or pears. 

3. Lemongrass (Xiang Mao)


Lemongrass is a cooling or yin food. Yin foods are generally bitter, salty and sour, creating a ‘refreshing’ feel in the body when consumed. Paired with warming ingredients such as ginger, lemongrass can be harmoniously balanced to promote a yin-yang duality in the body. It can be used to reduce inflammation, ease digestion and promote relaxation. Offering a subtly sweet and tangy flavour, this ingredient is commonly added to enhance soups and broths. 

4. Garlic (Da Suan)


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, garlic is believed to detoxify and tonify yang in the body. It can be used to improve the immune system, kill parasites, reduce inflammation and aid cardiovascular health. Garlic is said to support the growth of good bacteria in the body. While garlic is an incredibly versatile kitchen staple, consuming raw garlic is said to be especially effective, particularly during colder months, and is often used in a variety of remedies to treat the skin and joints. If you would like to avoid garlic’s natural side effect — bad breath — it’s recommended to neutralise it with ingredients like lemon juice, green tea or apples.

5. Mint (Bo He)

Considered to be the strongest cooling herb, mint has a variety of calming properties, and shouldn’t be limited to only toothpaste and chewing gum. It may be used in TCM to treat headaches, reduce heat on warmer days and detoxify the body. A simple infusion of mint and lemon in water not only tastes good but can also aid digestion.

6. Basil (Luo Le)


Basil is another common, yang herb that has a number of healing properties. It can be especially effective for promoting blood circulation in women who have recently given birth and can also be used to treat kidney and stomach problems. As it is used in a variety of cuisines because of its fresh and sweet taste, basil can be easily implemented into most diets to support holistic health. 

7.  Sage (Dan Shen) 


Perhaps one of the most commonly used herbs in TCM, sage may address symptoms of heat and inflammation and promote cognitive function. Interestingly, sage can be a heating or cooling ingredient, depending on what it’s needed for and how it’s used. 

8. Oregano (Niu Zhi)


Containing a variety of antiviral properties, oregano is another popular yang herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It can be used to treat heat stroke, nausea, fever and respiratory disorders. It can be added to a number of salads and soups thanks to its subtle and pleasant flavour.

9. Thyme (Bai Li Xiang)


Known to tonify and move Qi in the body, thyme can be used to boost one’s immune system. Containing warming, yang elements, this powerful herb can also ease congestion during colder seasons and is said to clear mucus from the lungs to reduce coughing. Thyme is commonly added to vegetable broths containing earthy vegetables like carrots, potatoes and turnips, because of its complimentary flavour profile.  

10. Spring onions (Cong Bai)


Spring onions are a popular addition to any stir fry or soup. Not only are they a great yang ingredient, capable of balancing these meals, but they’re also rich in vitamins and nutrients, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Considered a superfood, spring onions are said to relieve cold symptoms and aid digestion in TCM. 

11. Fennel (Xiao Hui Xiang)


A great source of folate, fennel tonifies the spleen and lung Qi to alleviate digestive discomfort, support lactation and address respiratory issues. It’s a yang ingredient, which relaxes the muscles and can relieve cramping and bloating. Containing a more potent flavour, fennel seeds can also be used to season food and produce similar benefits. 

12. Coriander (Xiang Cai)


Love it or hate it, coriander is a yang ingredient frequently added to soups, curries and salads to create a warming sensation in the body. It may promote digestion, detoxify the body and alleviate inflammation. 

13. Parsley (Zhou Ye Ou Qin)


Rounding off the list is parsley, another versatile, yin ingredient used in a plethora of meals across the world. Parsley is a diuretic, which means that it helps to reduce fluid build-up in the body. It can also eliminate toxins and tonify blood. Parsley is linked to improving the stomach, bladder and kidneys. Added to salads and soups, it gives a peppery taste with a touch of earthiness, making it a great all-rounder ingredient in the kitchen. 


While this list is not as comprehensive as it can be, it does demonstrate how simple, everyday ingredients are implemented in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve holistic well-being. If you’re interested in learning more about TCM and how it can be applied why not check out the Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine? Contact us today to learn more about our Diploma or Bachelor level courses in TCM, or to make an appointment at our teaching clinic. 

How the Five Elements are Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to Treat Various Health Conditions

The Five Elements Theory, a key concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is used to explain health imbalances and conditions. It is rooted in the Chinese philosophy of Wuxing which also appears in Eastern astrology, feng shui, and other early Chinese fields of study. The five fundamental elements or ‘phases’ are wood, water, fire, earth and metal. Individuals each have certain characteristics of a particular element, used for diagnosis, and each element corresponds with different organs, energies and biological functions, which informs treatment options. In this blog, we’ll explore in more detail how these five elements are used in TCM to diagnose and treat various health conditions. 


Wood (Mu): The Liver and Gallbladder  


In TCM, the wood element governs the liver and gallbladder and is associated with feelings of anger, frustration and irritability when out of balance. The liver is responsible for blood flow and as a result, the flow of Qi (energy) in the body. For this reason, an imbalance in the wood element may lead to physical stagnation — causing headaches, tension, PMT, or digestive issues. To treat a wood element imbalance, TCM practitioners will look to improve liver health and ensure Qi is stimulated. Herbs like Bupleurum and Milk Thistle are often used to support liver function. Tai Chi and Qi Gong can help release tension and promote flexibility. When women are experiencing period pain and PMT, the herb cyperus may be used to relieve symptoms. 


When it comes to lifestyle recommendations, vigorous exercises such as running and boxing may be introduced, as individuals governed by this element tend to have a lot of built-up energy. Adequate rest is also important, to keep those affected by the wood element calm and centred. Alcohol, coffee, sugary drinks and food should be avoided and replaced with leafy green vegetables, sour flavours like lemon juice, and herbal tea — particularly peppermint tea — which can be used to aid natural detoxification processes. 


Fire (Huo): The Heart and Small Intestine 


Fire relates to a person’s heart and small intestine in Traditional Chinese Medicine. When a fire-influenced individual is out of balance, their nervous system will suffer, causing anxiety symptoms and restlessness. Similar to the liver in the wood element, the heart in the fire element regulates blood flow through the body and can influence a person’s energy — in this case, causing stress as opposed to sluggishness as it does in the wood element. In TCM, the heart is also regarded as the Emperor of the body, or the ‘spirit’ and an essential element for emotional well-being. The herb polygala or herbal formulas like Suan Zao Ren Tang may be prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety symptoms. Remedial massage can also be particularly helpful, as it improves circulation and regulates blood pressure.


To counteract the heating effects of the fire element, switching to a diet of cooling foods including leafy greens, watermelon and cucumbers, and drinking plenty of water is advised, particularly during warmer weather. People ruled by fire should make reducing stress levels a primary focus by incorporating meditation and relaxation techniques such as gentle stretches and walks into their lifestyle.


Earth (Tu): The Stomach and Spleen


The element of earth in TCM is concerned with the stomach and spleen. It is central to digestion and nutrient absorption. An imbalance in this element can result in digestive problems and fatigue and people of this type may be more prone to excessive thinking. Aromatic herbs, associated with digestion are likely to be mentioned by Traditional Chinese Medicine herbalists treating an earth-influenced person. These include ginger, cinnamon, licorice root, star anise and ginseng. Citrus peel, also known as Chen Pi, is a common ingredient used in TCM which can relieve symptoms like nausea and bloating. A TCM practitioner may also recommend cupping therapy to treat digestive issues and drain toxins.


Those with an earth constitution should make nurturing their digestive system a primary health goal. They can do this by sticking to regular meal times, simplifying dishes and introducing friendly bacteria to their gut with fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi, or probiotic-rich foods. Warm, easy-to-digest foods such as soups and stews can also aid digestion. To reduce overthinking, stress-reduction techniques and taking additional time to rest should also be considered. 


Metal (Jin): The Lungs and Large Intestine 


In TCM’s Five Elements Theory, the metal element is believed to govern the lungs and large intestine. Consequently, those who experience an imbalance of this element may notice respiration issues, skin problems or the inability to eliminate waste in the body. It can also lead to difficulty processing emotions, as this element is associated with grief or sadness. As it encompasses the nose, throat and all aspects of breathing, metal is associated with the absorption of Qi from the air. Those treating an imbalance in the metal element will likely suggest herbs related to the immune system such as Chinese licorice, which works to relieve coughs and soothe sore throats, and Astragalus, which is traditionally used to strengthen lung gi and improve immunity. Qi gong exercises and therapeutic techniques such as journaling or counselling may also be incorporated to support emotional balance.                       


Immune system health is essential to metal-influenced individuals. Deep breathing techniques should be implemented to help circulate Qi around the body through the lungs. When it comes to diet, foods rich in antioxidants can prove beneficial, such as broccoli, cauliflower and citrus fruits (which are rich in vitamin C). Pungent foods such as garlic, onion, ginger and shallots should be included in meals from time to time as they are good for the lungs and can reduce mucus build-up.


Water (Shui): The Kidneys and Bladder


Water represents fluidity in the TCM Five Elements Theory and is associated with the kidneys and bladder. This element is also responsible for regulating and maintaining all the body’s fluids and is said to help balance yin and yang in the body. When there is an imbalance of this element in water-influenced individuals they are more likely to experience lower back pain, reproductive issues, or kidney-related problems, as well as feelings of fear. Herbs traditionally taken as kidney tonics are suggested for people experiencing an imbalance of the water element to nourish the kidneys and support longevity. Such tonics include Rehmannia, He Shou Wu, goji berry, and horny goat weed. Soothing practices like meditation and visualisation can also help an individual connect and strengthen kidney Qi.


Proper hydration should be the primary goal for people of this element. Caffeine, soft drinks and other stimulants should be avoided. Along with drinking plenty of water, swimming and bathing in it is also advised and calming exercises such as yoga and pilates will prove most beneficial. Salty foods are associated with the water element, but excessive intake can strain the kidneys, so moderation is crucial. 


Keen to Learn More?


While the above is used generally in Traditional Chinese Medicine for understanding one’s health and the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit, it’s important to note that treatment is highly individualised. A TCM practitioner will assess a person’s constitution and specific imbalances prior to recommending a tailored treatment plan. If you’re interested in learning more about TCM and the Five Element Theory, consider enrolling at the Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We offer VET courses, Bachelor courses and appointments at our teaching clinic at affordable rates. Learn more about our courses and clinic today. 

2023 End-of-Year Dinner

The annual SITCM End-of-Year Dinner took place on 3 December 2023, with over 200 members of the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) community in attendance. Mixed among the lively performances, raffle draws and academic awards were various speeches relating to Chinese medicine education. The speakers each had a valuable message to share with the TCM community; here’s a summary of what they said.

By Damien Mathews, CEO

SITCM’s CEO, Damien Mathews, began by acknowledging recent changes in Australia’s TCM education market, with UTS discontinuing its Chinese medicine program and RMIT announcing similar plans. Uniquely among Australia’s accredited higher education providers, SITCM is owned by TCM practitioners and has an unwavering commitment to the sector.

Damien went on to note the unrealised potential of Chinese medicine in Australia, whose health system is grappling under the growing burden of chronic illness and an ageing population.

Two recent successes were announced: the inaugural delivery of a new, accredited first aid course in the previous week, and the doubling of new enrolments in SITCM’s flagship Bachelor program from 2019 to 2023. These successes will support SITCM in its Mission to empower the next generation of TCM practitioners.

As SITCM expands its offerings, Damien underlined the importance of providing a quality education. SITCM’s quality assurance processes are rigorous and include educational workshops for staff, course benchmarking agreements, assessment moderation, unit reviews and stakeholder feedback surveys.

The final topic was feedback. Damien provided two recent examples of how student suggestions have helped shape SITCM: the Teaching Clinic is currently undergoing a renovation to expand spaces for herbal dispensing and treatment tables, and SITCM students now have the option to undertake a Chinese study tour at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

By Kathryn Scheffer, Student

Kathryn began by recalling her initial experiences with health systems as a child growing up in Middle America, where antibiotics were prescribed for seemingly every illness.

Living in Sydney a couple of decades later, Kathryn found herself again heavily medicated when she saw a fertility specialist while trying to start a family. She was placed on a cocktail of drugs – both injected and ingested – and constantly having blood drawn or going for ultrasounds. After half a year, she felt exhausted and defeated. Out of desperation she turned to TCM and, within a month of beginning her herbal prescription, she became pregnant. Kathryn was overjoyed, but sceptical on whether Chinese medicine was the panacea.

Towards the end of her pregnancy, Kathryn was told she would have to have a caesarean because her daughter was breech. She booked an appointment with her Chinese medicine practitioner and, a day after her treatment, the new ultrasound showed her daughter positioned correctly for a natural delivery.

The COVID-19 pandemic ended Kathryn’s career as a flight attendant. As challenging as that period was, it gave her the push she needed to begin a Bachelor of Traditional Chinese Medicine degree.

Kathryn concluded her speech by calling for the integration of the ancient wisdom of TCM with the innovation of modern medicine to create a healthcare system that addresses the holistic needs of individuals, promotes wellness and supports the body’s innate capacity to heal itself.

By Ahil Ganesan, Alumni

Ahil shared his experiences as a new TCM practitioner. As soon as he was registered, he began working in his own private clinic. It had only one bed, and business was very slow initially. He used his free time to network with local businesses, run different types of workshops, post on social media, work on his website and read Chinese medicine books.

As his business slowly grew, Ahil joined a community acupuncture clinic at Bondi Junction, called Experience Acupuncture. Within a few months, he was treating around 40 patients a week. The experience was invaluable for developing his confidence and refining his skills as an acupuncturist. It was also deeply rewarding to be using his knowledge to give back to the local community.

The hard work paid off: two years after graduation, Ahil now works four days a week, has a sustainable income and is loving practice. He left today’s graduates with five tips for beginning practice:

  1. Find a way to treat lots of patients.
  2. Engage in self-cultivation practices.
  3. When not treating patients, work on your business.
  4. Stay connected with colleagues and teachers.
  5. Put your heart and soul into helping every single patient.

By Rodd Sanchez, Alumni

Rodd recounted how his childhood martial arts teacher introduced him to the world of acupuncture, which struck his young mind as both effective and fascinating. However, upon finishing school he studied nursing because he did not have the marks to enrol in an acupuncture program. After several years working as a nurse, he was able to make his passion for acupuncture a career by enrolling at SITCM.

Looking back on his graduation, Rodd commented on the brevity of that ceremony and highlighted how much SITCM has grown in the last 21 years. He echoed Ahil’s message that the first few months as a registered TCM practitioner can be challenging and emphasised the importance of actively pursuing every opportunity to treat patients. By working with other alumni and being willing to volunteer his time, he developed a strong patient following, became a director of the largest TCM professional association in Australia (the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association), and gained immense personal satisfaction from this rewarding career.

Summertime Health Tips Backed by Traditional Chinese Medicine

Living in accordance with the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine means adapting your lifestyle and eating habits to reflect the season. During the summer months, particularly in Australia where temperatures can soar and the sun is strong, seasonally-specific practices can help the body and mind stay in alignment, minimising ill health and allowing you to get the most out of the season.


Fire: the element of summer 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a theory called the 5 phases which includes wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Unsurprisingly, the season of summer is ruled by the fire element, due to its association with heat. Fire is linked to the maximum expression of yang, representing a time of growth, joy, outgoingness, and spiritual awareness. Physically, fire is also associated with the heart and small intestine, while emotionally it is associated with the stability and strength of the mind, our memories, thought processes, and consciousness. This is because the heart is considered the seat of the mind. The summer months, when the element of fire dominates, is the perfect time to strive for outward progression while also focusing on heightening our spiritual awareness and harnessing a sense of joy in our lives. A healthy summer season will mean a strong heart, deep stability of the mind, and a satisfying sense of spiritual connectedness. 


Summer health problems

The predominance of heat and the fire element during the summer months can be a source of strength and growth, but if the body and mind are out of balance, it can also lead to some summer-specific health problems. You may notice an increase in these issues during the warmer months:

  • Insomnia and sleep problems
  • Excess perspiration
  • Anxiety, agitation or irritability
  • Heartburn
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Mood disorders including depression or mania
  • Speech issues such as stuttering, rapid speech, or excessive talking


Lifestyle tips for summer

Altering your daily rhythms and habits to reflect the season can help you maintain balance and health during the summer months.  Some simple tips to stay in alignment this summer include:

  • Wake up earlier and go to bed later 
  • Take a rest or a nap after lunch and escape the midday heat
  • Stay hydrated and take the opportunity to immerse yourself in cool water frequently through baths, showers, and swimming
  • Dedicate time to creative projects
  • Avoid stressful or anger-inducing situations and prioritise finding calm in your everyday life
  • Try to create space for child-like play and nourish your inner sense of fun


Nutrition tips for summer

During summer, your diet should focus on increasing hydration and preventing indigestion. This means you should be eating plenty of light, cool foods and avoiding heavy, rich, or fatty foods. This will help to prevent overheating and to bolster your fluid levels to prevent the common health issues of summertime.


Foods to include

Summer is the season to enjoy refreshing fruits like watermelons, pineapples, oranges, pears, kiwis, and lemons, as well as light salads incorporating foods like cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, bamboo, watercress, seaweed, spinach, snow peas, and asparagus.  Fish and seafood are also considered cooling, as well as yoghurt, grains, and mung beans.


Foods to avoid

Warming foods, including red meat, oily dishes, spicy foods, or meals using large amounts of onion, garlic, ginger, or pepper, should be avoided or minimised in the summer. It’s also important to be aware that very cold foods (such as ice cream) should be avoided during summer as they can cause the digestive system to slow down, creating indigestion problems.



Of course, drinking plenty of chilled water is always a good idea in summer. You can further enhance the cooling properties of your water by adding slices of lemon or cucumber. In terms of hot beverages and teas, mint, chamomile, lemon balm, hibiscus, chrysanthemum, green and white tea are all considered cooling, regardless of the temperature at which they are consumed. Coffee is considered very warming and should be avoided during summer. 


Eating habits

Remember that the body becomes prone to indigestion during the summer months, so avoid overeating and allow plenty of time between meals. Getting up earlier and going to bed later should help you to space your meals out more across the day.  


Learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SITCM) has a thirty-nine-year history of providing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) education and continues to contribute significantly to the development of traditional Chinese medicine education in Australia. With courses designed and taught by industry experts with years of hands-on experience, we offer students the best start in their career in Chinese Medicine. To learn more about our courses, or to make a general inquiry, contact us today.