TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the great medical systems of the world, with 23 centuries of tradition its uninterrupted history has continually developed in response to changing clinical conditions and has evolved with continued research into every aspect. Today this process has been enhanced with the development of modern medical diagnostic techniques and knowledge. It still forms a major part of health care provision in China, alongside western medicine. TCM is a complete medical system that is capable of managing a wide range of conditions and in recent history gained wide popularity in the West.
TCM treatment starts with the analysis of the entire body system, then focuses on correcting and adjusting the functions of the organs, meridians and the bodies energy systems. Clinical strategies are based upon the diagnosis of patterns of signs and symptoms that reflect an imbalance. With observation, thorough consultation, tongue and pulse diagnosis, TCM observes the body as a whole to develop a treatment protocol with prevention of disease incorporated as an integral component. Chinese medicine recognises that health is more than just the absence of disease and it has a unique capacity to re-establish, maintain and enhance our capacity for well being and happiness.
According to TCM theory, energy and blood circulate in the body through a network of channels; it is the energy flowing in these channels that acts as the primary influence in acupuncture treatment. If the flow of energy in the channels becomes blocked or deficient, then the body fails to maintain harmony and balance and disease or illness follows. The acupuncturist aims to restore the harmonious flow of energy and blood by stimulating the acupuncture points. Over 600 acupuncture points are located on the surface of the body, in the 14 main channels that flow both externally and internally interconnecting all the organs and tissues.
Integrative medicine which might consist of integrated traditional Chinese medicine is a comprehensive evaluation of the body in the holistic fashion in relation to diagnosing, understanding the root cause of the illness and the treatment of the complex diseases successfully.
Acupuncture is a technique in which the practitioner inserts fine needles made of surgical stainless steel into specific points chosen for their particular therapeutic action. Once the point is correctly located and stimulated then the patient will usually experience a feeling of heaviness, numbness, distension or discomfort. This is an essential goal of the treatment required to re-establish and regulate the flow of qi and blood in the channels. The needles are usually left in situ for 15-30 minutes.
Treatment protocols, frequency, duration and strength of treatment are a matter of professional judgment of the practitioner, made in consultation with the patient. A common course of treatment will vary according to the severity of the presenting condition and may initially require weekly treatments, which can later be reduced to monthly treatments.
Together with acupuncture, herbal medicine is a major pillar of Chinese medicine and is considered a primary therapeutic modality of internal medicine. The Chinese pharmacopoeia lists over 6,000 different medicinal substances in terms of their properties and the conditions that they are indicated for; herbs commonly used today number much less. The unique characteristic of Chinese herbal medicine is the degree to which formulation is done.
While Qigong isn’t one of the best-known parts of TCM it remains one of the more significant. The action of Qigong provides benefits beyond the limits of acupuncture and herbal medicine stimulating at a much deeper level thus instigating the recovery and regulation of the body’s function. Importantly, Qigong plays a major component of a self-help regime for treatment, prevention and longevity. For conditions requiring remedial therapy, Cupping, Gua Sha and Tuina, similar to acupressure is just one of the modalities available with diet therapy and lifestyle advice completing a holistic regime. Some or several of these may be employed in the course of treatment. While all these therapies may appear very different, they are all part of the one theoretical system thus providing a multiple of modalities for the complexity of the human system. In the intervening millennia, the practice of TCM has developed and matured to become what it is today, a natural and holistic system of primary health care that is being used by people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds to effectively manage a wide range of acute and chronic health problems.