Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of medicine that has been developed over the past 3000 years. It is the longest continuously practiced system of medicine in the world. TCM therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui na, nutrition, and qigong (meditative breathing exercises). Through questioning and examination, TCM practitioners organize a patient's symptoms into understandable patterns of disharmony. Symptoms are not thought to be caused by a singular process, but are seen as expressions of a greater disharmony within the whole being. By treating the greater disharmony, TCM not only alleviates the symptoms of disease, but reestablishes internal balance to make lasting changes.
The goal of TCM is not to make patients dependent upon acupuncture or herbs, but rather to guide patients to a state where regular therapy is not necessary. Once treatment has eliminated the original symptoms, many diseases can be kept at bay with correct diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices. Patients can then take charge of their health and understand better how to care for themselves. The ancient Chinese believed that health preservation and disease prevention were the highest forms of medicine.
In the U.S., TCM is known mainly for acupuncture, which has become popular as an effective treatment for pain. In fact, TCM is a broad system that treats a wide range of diseases including disorders of the skin, digestion, gynecology, pulmonology, neurology, psychology, endocrinology, geriatrics, the cardiovascular system, the genitourinary system, addiction, and more. In the past fifty years, research has explained much of TCM's therapeutic effects. By blending time-tested methods with the strength of modern science and research, TCM's efficacy and value have greatly increased.
While TCM offers treatment for most diseases, it is not appropriate in every case. If a patient's condition is very extreme, or dangerously acute, TCM may not work fast enough to make a significant difference. That being said, TCM is an excellent choice for conditions in which western medicine does not offer an effective or safe treatment. In situations where strong western therapies are required (i.e. chemotherapy, radiation, surgery), TCM may help patients with unpleasant side effects such as nausea, pain, fatigue, or lack of appetite. In some cases such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), TCM can actually improve the effectiveness of the procedure.
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