What is TCM?
Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest continuous systems of medicine in history, dating as far back as two thousand years B.C. By contrast, contemporary American or Western forms of health care have been in existence for a much shorter time. The American Medical Association was formed in 1847, some 3,800 years after the first mention of TCM.
Chinese medicine is complex and challenging. TCM is rooted in the Daoist belief that we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. Many of the concepts emphasized in traditional Chinese medicine have no true counterpart in Western medicine. One of these concepts is qi (pronounced "chi"), which is considered the vital force or the energy responsible for controlling the workings of the human mind and body. Qi flows through the body via channels, or pathways, which are called meridians. Imbalance of flow causes illness; correction of qi flow restores the body to balance.
In TCM the emphasis is on the individual as a whole being. One part of the body affects every other part of the body. Mind and body are not viewed separately, but as part of an energetic whole. A patient’s mental and physical conditions are closely examined so that the practitioner observes the subtle disturbances that contribute to disease. By examining the symptoms of illness and also the roots of pathology, the practitioner is empowered to establish a treatment plan that is specific to the individual’s needs. Through enhancing the immune system, strengthening organ functions, and promoting the proper flow of Qi, TCM enhances the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. As a result, the individual achieves optimum wellness without the common side-effects of conventional medicine.
Is Acupuncture the same as TCM?
The practice of acupuncture is often equated with the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. But they are not equal. While acupuncture is the most often practiced component of TCM it is merely one important piece of a much larger system. Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses several methods designed to help patients achieve and maintain health. Along with acupuncture, TCM incorporates adjunctive techniques such as: