Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM), is an ancient and complete medical system that has its roots about 5,000 years ago in China. Closely linked to Taoism, in its most basic theory is based on the concept of balance and the symbol of Yin-Yang. The ancient Chinese closely observed nature and made connections between the naturally occurring cycles of nature and the cycles in the human body and linked them together. The body was mapped with an energetic system of interconnected pathways called meridians. The life force that runs through these meridians is called Qi. The lack of Qi or the inability of Qi to move freely through the meridians was what brought an imbalance and then pain or disease would result. Chinese medicine can effectively treat the symptoms of the disorder such as pain, but also can treat the root cause of what is the creating the symptoms in the first place. Through its many branches of therapy (acupuncture, herbs, lifestyle changes, etc), the body can get to its natural state of balance.
WHY THE NEED FOR ANCIENT MEDICINE IN THIS MODERN WORLD?
It seems counter-intuitive to go back to an old way of doing things when we live in a modern world with advancing science and leading the cutting edge of medicine. The answer lies in the fact that there is a demand for a solution to a medical system that isn’t solving a majority of people’s illnesses. Western allopathic medicine excels at trauma medicine and end stage organ failure or advancement of any disease process. However, early stage dysfunction fails to be recognized, and defies testing by blood or MRI, despite the patient being ill and having symptoms. (For example, it before Multiple Sclerosis can be diagnosed using MRI studies, 70% of myelin has to be destroyed by the autoimmune attack, so if the patient only has a 30% destruction, a lesion is not established.) As a result, patients search for solutions in the alternative medical world; and Traditional Chinese Medicine is such a system which can help these patients trapped in the chronic disease process.
Chinese medicine relies on the skilled physician taking a detailed history, watching for patterns and symptoms that help paint the picture of the disease process. Another example illustrates this point: anemia is defined as low hemoglobin or low RBC, but a patient can feel tired, weak, dizzy, have a pale complexion and a physician of Chinese Medicine would identify this as a pattern of “blood deficiency” and can reverse their deficiency by tonifying blood through prescribing herbal formulas and/or acupuncture.
Symptom Patterns versus naming and treating a disease.
The resourcefulness of Chinese Medicine and what makes this ancient medicine useful in modern day, is in its flexibility to work with any diagnosis or lack of diagnosis. Chinese Medicine does not rely on giving diseases a name, but rather finds the presenting pattern in any disease process. Whether the patient comes in with a diagnosis of chronic Lyme Disease, Lupus, or simply a headache, the physician will distill which pattern or group of patterns this patient falls under and treat it accordingly. In the example of the headache alone, there are 10 different types of headaches, differentiated by pain onset characteristics, location of pain, and other symptoms that accompany the headache. In contrast, the Western medicine equivalent would be the same for every headache: Tylenol.