Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a comprehensive healing system with a history dating back to 200 B.C. It has also influenced the development of traditional medicine in countries like Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. TCM is based on the concept of balance between two opposing yet interconnected forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive aspects, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active aspects. TCM assumes that maintaining a balanced state of the body is crucial for health, and disease arises from an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance disrupts the flow of qi, the vital energy, and blood along meridians in the body. TCM practitioners commonly use herbs, acupuncture (stimulating specific points with thin needles to restore qi flow), and massage to unblock qi and blood, aiming to restore harmony and well-being.
TCM treatments are individualized, considering each patient's unique patterns of disharmony and an individualized diagnosis. Diagnostic methods differ from conventional medicine. TCM employs three primary therapeutic approaches:
- Acupuncture and moxibustion (heating acupuncture points with moxa)
- Chinese Materia Medica (natural products in TCM)
- Massage and manipulation
While TCM suggests that natural products from Chinese Materia Medica or acupuncture can be used alone for treating various conditions, they are often combined with each other and with other modalities like massage, moxibustion, dietary changes, or exercise. The scientific evidence for selected TCM modalities is discussed below.