What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the five major systems in traditional East Asian medical care, along with acupuncture, herbalism/phytotherapy, massage therapy (improves blood flow), and diet therapy. TCM generally treats a patient's internal system, rather than just their symptoms, as Western medicine focuses on treating only what they see outside the body.

In addition, TCM views illnesses as being caused by disharmony between four basic elements: fire, earth, metal, and water, which then causes illness. This disturbed balance in the body may be corrected through treatments such as acupressure, moxibustion, different forms of cupping, dietary changes, exercises, qigong, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and many other therapies.

The history of Traditional Chinese Medicine goes back more than 5,000 years when it was first developed but has been practiced long before that under different names. It came into China around 2000 BC where it became an important part of conventional medicine and later spread throughout Asia during the Han Dynasty.

The philosophy behind Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on yin and yang principles; there is a balance between two opposing forces called "yin" and "yang." Each organ system corresponds to either.

Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine

The most common health issues treated with traditional Chinese medicine include:

  • Arthritis - Arthritis treatments include acupuncture, herbs, dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments and physical therapies such as heat or cold applications.
  • Asthma - Asthmatic patients may benefit from acupuncture treatment due to its ability to relax muscles and relieve spasms.
  • Back pain - Back pain caused by injury or degenerative disease responds well to acupuncture.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is commonly treated with acupuncture.
  • Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia is an illness characterized by muscle aches and pains that cause widespread discomfort throughout the body. It's a chronic condition that affects about 5 million Americans.
  • Headaches - Headaches respond very well to acupuncture therapy.
  • Insomnia and Digestive disorders - Insomnia is a sleep problem in which you have trouble falling asleep or staying awake during the night. Sleep disorders affect millions of American adults each year. They're usually associated with stress, anxiety, depression, poor health habits and medications. Treatments for insomnia include relaxation techniques, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and acupuncture.
  • Menopause - Menopausal women experience hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and loss of libido. These problems are sometimes alleviated through hormone replacement therapy but many menopausal women find relief through alternative approaches like acupuncture.
  • Multiple sclerosis - Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological disorder that involves damage to myelin sheaths around nerves.
  • Chronic pain - All types of chronic pain including entire body aches, muscle pain etc.

How does TCM work?

The theory behind Chinese Herbal Medicine is that the body has a natural healing ability, but it needs help from external factors such as herbs and acupuncture in order to do so. This system works on an energy level rather than just treating symptoms by the insertion of needles (tiny filaments). It looks at how your whole being functions, not just what you are experiencing right now.

TCM licensed practitioners believe there are five basic elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each person’s constitution or “qi gong” is based on which combination of these 5 elements they were born with. For example, someone who was mostly made up of wood would be more likely to get sick if exposed to cold weather because their bodies lack heat-producing abilities.

In addition to looking at each individual's unique balance of elements, our experienced practitioners at Alberta PT also look at patterns within the patient's life. They may ask questions about diet, lifestyle habits, emotional state, etc., to determine whether certain imbalances exist. Once those imbalances are identified, your customized treatment plan can be developed and begin.

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