1. Chinese Medicine is recognized by US government institutions

Chinese Medicine, also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a Medicine that is also called Whole Medical System by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), National Institute of Health (NIH), US. As NCCAM stated on its website (December 2010): “Traditional Chinese Medicine, which encompasses many different modalities, is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5,000 years. Today, TCM is practiced side by side with Western medicine in many of China's hospitals and clinics. TCM practitioners use herbs, acupuncture and other methods to treat a wide range of conditions. In the United States, TCM is considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).”

“TCM is widely used in the United States. Although the exact number of people who use TCM in the United States is unknown, it was estimated in 1997 that some 10,000 practitioners served more than 1 million patients each year. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included questions on the use of various CAM therapies, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.”

 

NIH and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describe the Whole Medicine as involving “complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved independently from or parallel to allopathic (conventional) medicine”.

 

Acupuncture is one of major modalities in Chinese Medicine. In 1997, the NIH issued a “Consensus Statement of Acupuncture” that endorsed the benefits of Acupuncture for a diverse group of medical disorders: “There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture value to expand its use into conventional medicine.”

 

2. Chinese Medicine has six major modalities

They are acupuncture (Zheng), moxibustion (Jiu), Chinese herbal medicine (Yao), Tui Na/Chinese massage (Qiao), Qigong (Yin), Dietary/nutritional therapy (Shan).

Acupuncture is only one of the 6 major treatment modalities of this comprehensive medical system based on the understanding of Qi or vital energy. Simply explain them as follows:

 

1) Acupuncture: inserting the needles in the acupuncture points to help Qi flowing smoothly and eliminate the pathogenic factors.

2) Moxibustion: burning moxa on the skin to warm and move the smooth flow of Qi.

3) Herbal medicine: using the herbal formulas to strengthen immunity, regulate  homeostasis and eliminate the pathogenic factors.

4) Chinese massage: using hand techniques to help move Qi flowing smoothly.

5) Qigong: an energy practice that uses mind, movements and breathing techniques.

6) Dietary therapy: using certain foods for healing based on food's energy essences or energy in nature, not nutritional values.

 

To learn more about the modalities, click the correspondent buttons on the left.

3. Chinese Medicine thinks of human body in the unique way

Underlying the practice of TCM is a unique view of the world and the human body that is different from Western medicine concepts. This view is based on the ancient Chinese perception of humans as microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe—interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The human body is regarded as an organic entity in which the various organs, tissues, and other parts have distinct functions but are all interdependent. In this view, health and disease relate to balance and harmony of the functions.

Since TCM has been around for such a long time, it has evolved in many ways, taking on slightly different forms as it has made its way through the various cultures of the world. The core philosophy in Chinese Medicine is to help keep the body, mind and spirit in balance and harmony.  The interconnectedness of the human being with the Nature and the society is also taken into account. There are channels of life energy (“Qi”) that runs throughout the body called Meridians.  If an area on one or more of these Meridian channels become stuck or “stagnated” then disease or pain may result and an imbalance will occur.  Once the stuck energy is freed, disease/pain may decrease or cease to exist altogether. This concept can be visualized as a river that has been dammed up by stuck debris.  The water becomes discolored and not free flowing.  Once the debris gets removed, the water becomes clear again and the river can move without restraint. A practitioner of Chinese Medicine may work with many modalities including acupuncture, moxa, herbs, or massage in order to un-jam blockages or imbalances.

4. Four theoretical foundations in Chinese Medicine

 

The four important theories are Theory of Qi, Theory of Yin/Yang, Five Element Theory and Meridian Theory, which are called the foundations of TCM. It is  important to note that these theories are not the results of modern experiments in the laboratory or even scientific/rational thinking. They are based on the deliberate observation and deep understanding of laws in nature - how this world and the universe work at the Qi level. The theories have been used and tested in to understand life and diagnose and treat health problems for more than five thousand years.

5. Chinese Medicine  treats patients as a whole person

 

At first glance Chinese Medicine may seem like a foreign language when compared to Western medical philosophy.  The difference between Chinese medical philosophy and Western medical philosophy is that in Western Medicine, doctors mainly focus on diagnosing a specific disease or symptom and then basing their treatment strategy on that particular symptom/disease.  In Chinese medical philosophy, the doctor looks at the entire body/mind connection, all changes in your life in order to come up with what’s referred to as your individual “Constitutional Pattern and Disharmony Pattern” in terms of diagnosis.  This means that for example, if two people were both diagnosed with depression, they would be treated completely different based on their own unique “constitution”. Originally, Chinese doctors were paid when the patient stayed well, not when they got sick.

 

6. Chinese Medicine works in conjunction with Western Medicine

 

Most Chinese medicine practitioners are trained in Western medical diagnosis, pathology and anatomy, so they can communicate well with those doctors trained in Western Medicine.  If you are seeking medical help from more than one type of doctor or practitioner, it is advisable to notify all of them on the treatments you are receiving.  This way, they can have the chance to communicate with each other, in order to provide you with the best of care.  Many insurance companies are now also offering acupuncture coverage.  Check with your insurance carrier for more information.

 

 

7. Harmony is the ultimate goal and highest level in Chinese  Medicine

 

TCM understands that everything is composed of two complementary energies; one energy is yin and the other is yang. They are never separate; one cannot exist without the other. The Yin/Yang relationship is traditionally symbolized in Taiji image– Ying/Yang fish image. No matter how you might try to divide this circle in half, the two sections will always contain both energies. The energies themselves are indivisible. From the TCM perspective, this is Universal Law at its simplest and deepest.

 

The Theory of Yin and Yang contains no absolutes. The designation of something as yin or yang is always relative to, or in comparison with, some other thing. For example, the sun and daytime are considered to be yang in relation to the moon and the night, which are yin. However, early morning is yang in comparison to late afternoon, which is more yin. According to the Theory of Yin and Yang, male is yang; female is yin. Everything in the body is also under the control of the binary system of yin and yang. Because yin and yang have an inseparable relationship, if there is a problem with one, the other will definitely be affected.

 

Ideally, yin and yang should always remain in harmony, not just in balance. Understanding harmony is an important aspect of understanding TCM. Often, in Western understanding of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), the term "balance" is described as the desired state, however, in TCM, "harmony" is the ultimate goal. Although the words "balance" and "harmony" are sometimes used interchangeably, in TCM theory they are quite different: balance is merely the first step toward harmony. Two things can be balanced; they can be of equal proportion or have equal weight, and yet still be separate. Balance has to do with the relationship between two separate entities: for instance, the relationship between the Heart and Kidney. First, a relationship must be in balance; the next step is to achieve harmony. When two things are in harmony, their energies are not just equally proportioned but blended together into a seamless whole. When two elements exist in harmony, there is an ongoing, unconscious dance between them that happens naturally. When one predominates, the other recedes; this is homeostasis — internal harmony that is a dynamic condition.

 

In a healthy system, harmony happens naturally within the body itself, and between the body and external forces of Nature and the Universe. So, when nature's Qi undergoes change as it does seasonally, a person's internal Qi will respond automatically. If, for any reason, it can't make a smooth transition to the energy of the next season, TCM understands that illness will result, which is called Disharmony. So restoring harmony from the disharmony is the healing process in TCM.

 

Therefore, for a real person, a concern on health must involve a number of elements to deal with in terms of restoring harmony. So the harmony is the highest level in TCM.

 

The section 7 is partially adopted and edited from www.tcmworld.org.

 

 

8. Feeling pulses may tell the functional states of the internal organs

 

There are 12 pulse positions on each wrist. Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will feel the quality and strength of the pulses that reflect overall health. If there are some problems, they may appear in the pulses.

 

9. Tongue’s change may tell some kind of pathology

 

The tongue is a map of the body. It reflects the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on the tongue.

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Copyright @ 2011 Harmony Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine - a Center for Health and Wellness. All rights reserved. This site is for educational purpose. Never disregard, avoid, or delay in obtaining medical advice from your health providers because of what you have read on this site. The webmaster: Heming Zhu.

 

Heming Zhu, Professor, PhD, CMD, LAc

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