Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

Chinese medicine is a traditional style of treatment and medicine that is based on more than 2,000 years of Chinese medical experience and practice. Over thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has evolved and is now increasingly used as a complementary health approach or form of treatment in both Europe and the United States. While Western medicine traditionally focuses on the treatment of disease and pathology, TCM takes a more holistic approach and treats the whole being rather than an individual condition per se.

Traditional Chinese medicine is considered an alternative therapy.

Why is it done?

TCM sees the human body as a version of the larger universe of which it is a part. One of the basic principles of TCM is the body’s ‘qi’ (or ch’i), the vital energy, which flows and circulates through different channels in the body called meridians. These are connected to different organs and functions performed in the body. It is also based on concepts such as yin and yang, or the harmony between two opposing forces, and the belief that disease results from an imbalance between yin and yang. TCM also considers the five elements (fire, earth, metal, wood and water) and the role they play in explaining how the body functions.

TCM is considered to be a form of alternative medicine or complementary medicine, as there are not enough scientific studies or evidence to show results.

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What is TCM?

TCM covers a wide range of practices that have been a basic part of the methodology for thousands of years. TCM incorporates medicinal herbs and herbal remedies, acupuncture, cupping, massage, exercise and dietary therapy. Treatment is determined based on the perceived “pattern of disharmony” (i.e., disease) in the body.

How to prepare for TCM?

TCM should be used as an adjunct to conventional care and not as a stand-alone treatment. A health care provider (e.g., primary care physician) should always be consulted for a diagnosis and consultation about the medical problem. Inform your physician that you are participating in complementary medicine or health approaches. Other specialists, such as specialists in Physical Therapy, also apply such therapy.

Before visiting a TCM doctor, you can check his or her training and experience, as complementary therapies are regulated throughout the European Union; TCM is no exception. You can also review research and studies related to the therapy you are considering.

Alternatives to this treatment

TCM is an alternative in itself and should be considered complementary medicine rather than an alternative to conventional care. Other East and South Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, Singapore and Thailand have their own traditional systems of medicine that have now developed enough to be considered distinctive systems of medicine in their own right. TCM remains by far the most widespread alternative therapy of the Asian systems of traditional medicine.