What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? How is it different from Western Medicine?

TCM has been used for thousands of years with tens of millions of successful cases being documented in history. It is one of the very few traditional medicine systems that continue to hold its own in the face of the western medical model. The power and effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine is evidenced by its long history of continued success, as well as modern research studies.

It is fundamental to the nature of TCM to see the patient as a whole, not just by his or her condition. Unlike conventional medicine, which relies on surgery or drugs to cure, TCM believes in the innate ability of the body to protect, regulate and heal itself. Using Herbs (Herbal Medicine), Acupuncture, Moxibustion (Moxa), Cupping, TuiNa Massage etc. TCM aims at self-healing and prevention rather than reacting to and suppressing symptoms as they arise. Patients having TCM treatments are often amazed to find that not only does their primary complaints improve, but also many other secondary conditions too. Whereas patients who are being treated with modern western medicine, especially over an extended period of time often develop complications due to the side-effects from the medicine.

How does a Chinese medicine doctor make a diagnosis?

In addition to western medicine diagnosis, a Chinese doctor makes a Chinese medicine diagnosis in terms of Yin, Yang, Qi, Blood, and Organ Imbalance. The diagnosis is based on the Eight Principles that are composed of four pairs of opposite categories: Yin and Yang, Exterior and Interior, Cold and Heat, and Deficiency and Excess. The Eight Principles serve as a framework for the information gathered through inspection, inquiring, listening, physical examination, tongue examination and pulse diagnosis.

Tongue and pulse diagnosis are two of the most important tools used in traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis. The tongue is considered a sensitive indicator of a person’s health. Subtle changes in its color, texture, shape, movement and coating indicate specific body imbalances and tell the progress of the illness. The character of a person’s pulses, like the tongue, also indicates the type of energetic disharmony or disorder. By feeling pulses on each wrist along the radial artery, a well-trained Chinese Medicine doctor can detect underlying imbalances of internal organs and the body as a whole. Once the pattern of disharmony/imbalance is confirmed and the Chinese diagnosis is made, the doctor makes a treatment plan for the particular patient to help him or her to restore good health.

Can the treatment be used in conjunction with conventional western medicine?

Conventional Western Medicine and traditional Chinese Medicine can be combined and they often enhance each other’s effects. Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Cupping and TuiNa are compatible with virtually all modern medical techniques. Chinese herbs (herbal medicine) can greatly enhance the benefits of conventional western medications, may help people live longer and reduce side effects caused by western medicine. At times, it may also be possible to eliminate the need for some of the western medications. It is important to be seen by a fully qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner for safe and effective treatments.

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