Chinese Medicine for Olympic Athletes

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It has been fun watching the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. As an acupuncturist, I find it especially interesting to see the information circulating about Traditional Chinese Medicine (although some of it is mis-information).One clinic in the Olympic athlete’s’ village is offering acupuncture and traditional Chinese massage. Both athletes and coaches are taking advantage of the services. You can read the full article from the Times Online, a British newspaper. Be aware, however, that the article somewhat sensationalizes Chinese herbal medicine, focusing on animal products that are almost never used in the United States and are uncommon even in China.

In fact, according to the official Olympic website, Chinese athletes are not using herbal medicine during the games, to prevent the appearance of an unfair advantage (although there is no evidence that the substances in common Chinese herbs would be considered doping).

Athletes are also taking advantage of cupping, an adjunctive technique in Chinese medicine. Chinese swimmers and marathon runners have been seen with cupping marks on their backs. Don’t worry– the marks will disappear in a few days and cupping feels fabulous!

On the lighter side, here is a link to an article from Weird Asia News. A Chinese acupuncturist broke the world record for self acupuncture by inserting 2008 decorative acupuncture needles into himself. Do not try this at home– and I promise that I will never use this many needles on a patient!

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