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What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices in order to treat or prevent health problems. In the US, people use TCM primarily as a complementary health approach. Here is more on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a type of holistic, natural health care system. TCM is “holistic” and “natural” because it stimulates the body’s own healing mechanisms and takes into account all aspects of a patient’s life, rather than just obvious signs or symptoms. TCM practitioners view the body as a complex network of interconnected parts rather than separate systems or organs. Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments aim to correct imbalances in the body and primarily work in three major ways:

  • Addressing a patient’s external factors and environment
  • Helping patients relate to their internal emotions in a healthier way, including managing stress
  • Improving someone’s lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise routine

Organs that are especially focused on during TCM treatments include the kidneys, heart, spleen, liver, lung, gallbladder, small intestine and large intestine. Depending on the specific type, the benefits of TCM therapies range considerably. Some of the health problems most commonly treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • PMS or menopause symptoms

What Kind of Practices Does TCM Use?

  • Acupuncture: very fine needles placed in the skin
  • Cupping: heated cups that create suction on your skin
  • Herbs: teas, powders, and capsules made mostly from plants
  • Meditation: a way to sit quietly and calm your mind
  • Moxibustion: dried herbs burned near the skin
  • Tai chi: exercise with slow movements and focus on the breath

If You’re Considering TCM

Here are some tips to ensure that you receive the best care possible:

  • If you’re considering herbal remedies, seek guidance from someone who is certified in this field. You’ll also want to ensure that any herbs you’re prescribed are compatible with current treatments or other medications you are taking.
  • Make sure to inform your doctor of all of your alternative health management practices. This will help ensure that you receive safe, coordinated, and optimal care for achieving your health goals.
  • If you’re pregnant, nursing, or considering TCM to treat a child, consult your primary health care provider before beginning any treatment.

Is It Safe?

Experts believe that it is safe, if you go to someone who knows what they’re doing. This is especially true of acupuncture, tai chi, cupping, and moxibustion. Herbs can be a little trickier because they don’t go through the same FDA process as drugs. That means there’s not as much research on them. Plus, herbs can have side effects or impact other medicine you’re taking. Again, it’s important to go to someone who really understands their practice.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a natural, holistic medicinal system that originated in ancient China thousands of years ago and is still practiced throughout the world today. TCM practitioners use herbal medicines, mind and body practices like tai chi, acupuncture, massage therapy, and nutrition to help patients of all kinds, including those with chronic pain, fatigue, headaches, infertility and hormonal imbalances. In the West, TCM is primarily considered to be a “complementary health approach,” which means that it’s best utilized when working with a physician and addressing other aspects of health like diet and exercise.