Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a medical system which has been evolving far longer than has western, or allopathic, medicine. It’s history affords TCM with a level of sophistication in diagnosis and treatment options that are beyond the scope of what we have available to us conventionally, as well as an entirely different perspective on health and disease states.
There are two main prongs to the practice of TCM: acupuncture, and herbal medicine.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine has a long history in China. Herbal Medicines in China were an integral part of the culture for millennia. The first written record of the use of herbal medicines dates back to 100 B.C. More importantly, in modern society, herbal medicine based on its heritage continues to flourish and play an important role in the current healthcare and well being of millions of Chinese people. It’s use in North America has been increasing greatly, as health care providers see the benefits of incorporating these time-tested herbs and herbal formulas into therapeutic regimens for their patients.
One of these benefits is that the herbs present in a formula act in synergistic ways with one another, serving to increase the effectiveness, treat multiple symptoms, and/or decrease the potential for side effects. These formulas evolved as such over time, with much trial and error. The result is that the balance of herb ratios in classical formulas are adhered to today, as these do work better than each herb used alone to treat the entire patient. Done correctly, one can expect fewer side effects and a more thorough healing, as opposed to the single drug prescriptions used in the west.
A thorough TCM exam and diagnosis is required to allow the practitioner to know which formula would be most helpful; this formula may change during treatment. Unlike western medicine, TCM considers the entire patient in diagnosis and treatment, and as one layer of the patient’s health challenges are dealt with, new ones may emerge (and often do). Then the formula, and the acupuncture prescriptions, may change. The goal is to treat the underlying imbalances that led to the development of the disease symptoms. To achieve this, often lifestyle changes, particularly diet, may be instituted. Once brought back to a more healthy balance, the lifestyle changes may be enough to maintain the patient’s health; sometimes lower doses of herbs, or occasional acupuncture visits, are continued, if needed to counteract other influences on the patient’s health.