Although it seems like a new health treatment in America, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been around for centuries. It is based on a classic published in the third century, B. C. , entitled Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. Many diseases and ailments that cannot be cured by Western medicine (WM) can be treated by TCM successfully. This is not to say that TCM can cure all diseases that Western medicine cannot. It is, however, an excellent alternative to a wide range of illnesses experienced by most individuals.

Dr. Henry C. Lu, in his book Chinese Natural Cures, asserts the case that TCM is better for certain health problems: “WM is more useful for first aid and surgery, while TCM is more useful in treating skin, internal diseases, and chronic cases in particular” (10). Not only can it be used exclusively or complementary, it can also be used as preventive medicine. WM relies on chemical drugs that are very strong and tend to produce serious side effects to the patient, where TCM relies on Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and qigong (pronounced chee-gong).

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The goal of TCM is to return the body to homeostasis. That is, its optimal balanced functioning ability. When the body is at homeostasis, there is no room for disease. It is only when the body is out of balance (something is deficient, in excess or stagnating) that pain, illness, or disease can occur. Chinese herbal therapy is able to restore these imbalances once a proper TCM doctor prescribes the right treatment. The herbs prescribed can be taken as teas, tinctures, powders, liniments, extracts, plasters, capsules, pills, etc. The herbs used are known to be hygienic and safe.

According to the website of the Longevity Center of Classical Chinese Medicine, “Using the international GMP standard, or good manufacturing practices, these herbs are known for their strict hygienic policies and quality control. ” Meeting GMP standards means that the herbs have been through rigorous testing and investigation to the extent that modern pharmaceuticals are put through to assure quality.

Herbs used may be powerful and quite dangerous if taken in excess, as abuse of any kind of pharmacopeia would entail, but can be much better for our bodies than western pharmaceutical drugs when taken as prescribed. Pharmaceutical drugs work allopathically, attacking specific pathogens, tissues, or symptoms, but because of their synthetic origin, disturb the equilibrium of the body and mind. Without an understanding of individual constitutional sensitivity, there can be disastrous side effects.

This is what distinguishes the approach of Chinese medicine, which is designed to work within the therapeutic bandwidth of the dynamic human ecology, according to the special and unique characteristics of each individual case.

Acupuncture is another form of TCM that can be used in place of pharmaceutical drugs. It is often used in conjunction with herbs in clinical practice to produce a greater benefit to the patient. In general, acupuncture is most effective in treating pain and muscular symptoms. In the book Chen-Chiu: The Original Acupuncture, author Claus C. Schnorrenberger, M. D. states “Not only is Chinese Needle Treatment effective in areas where Western-type healing methods fail, but it is less expensive in the long run, requires almost no technical equipment, and, with proper application, is less injurious to the patient” (23-24).

The Chengdu Hospital for Infectious Diseases has presented a study on the favorable influence of acupuncture on infectious hepatitis and jaundice. After a course of treatment, 60 of the 68 cases could be considered clinically cured, a success rate corresponding to 88. 1 percent. In these cases all the clinical symptoms had vanished and the function of the liver had returned to normal. The stay in the hospital averaged 21. 6 days, the jaundice remained for about 11 days, and the pain in the area of the liver disappeared after 8 days. The function of the liver had normalized after approximately 17 days.

The practice of qigong aims at balancing and strengthening qi in the human body. Qigong is a system created centuries ago by Chinese healers. It incorporates breathing in a meditative fashion along with moving the body in slow, yoga-like movements. In Medical Qigong, for example, the objective for healing illness is to build the patient’s qi (pronounced chee, loosely translated as breath or energy), or chi, to counteract the pathogenic influences and to regulate the balance of yin-yang energy, thereby returning the body to a normal physiological state, thus regaining health. This way

the energetic imbalance is rebalanced and the root cause of the illness is removed. TCM stresses “To heal, look for the cause of the illness”, and is strongly opposed to “treating only the head if the head hurts, and treating the foot if the foot hurts. ” The development of illness is due to the battle between qi in the human body and pathogenic influences. That is, the causes of illnesses are due to an energetic imbalance within the body. Therefore, to treat any illness, we will either need to eliminate the pathogenic influence, and/or balance, and strengthen the qi in the body.

We accomplish this through regular qigong sessions tailored to each individuals needs by the TCM doctor. People trying to discredit the power and realness of qi are encouraged to look to distinguished colleges, such as Harvard University, who have groups dedicated to the study and research of qi. TCM is a very real, thoroughly studied, and proven system of health. Its aims are to heal the patient’s entire wellbeing, not just an ailment. For centuries people have been treated, and healed, with this system by qualified masters and professionals.

Some insurance companies are now including TCM, along with other complementary medicine systems, into their policies. It’s time that we get away from the thoughts that only pills can heal us. Not only are pharmaceutical drugs harmful to our bodies, but they also come equipped with potentially dangerous side effects, where TCM relies on Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and qigong. It is more cost effective and much safer for our bodies. Anyone interested in their health are urged to try TCM, and challenged to see if it does not improve the quality of their lives.