Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Alternative to Western Medicine
Chemotherapy and consuming prescribed medications serve as accepted treatment methods for harmful diseases in the Western world, but medical practices of other cultures can also be helpful to patients. The ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been proven to heal the mind, body and soul in ways beyond what Western medical treatments can achieve.
According to the University of Pennsylvania’s publication Knowledge @ Wharton, Western medicine is based on scientific findings and treats illnesses with medications and surgeries, whereas TCM uses a holistic approach and maintains a cured and balanced body through alternative, more natural treatments.
The Longevity Center of Classical Chinese Medicine states, medical practitioners apply Western medicine once an illness and its symptoms emerge. TCM, however, treats the body as a whole every day and advocates for an overall balanced lifestyle, including healthy eating and exercise, to prepare the body for self-healing when medical problems arise. Experts suggest using Chinese medicine in addition to Western medicine, rather than completely on its own, when treating illnesses.
Qi, pronounced chi, is a main aspect of TCM. It is seen as an energy that animates and brings life to all objects of the world. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, Qi exists within the body and circulates among organs along meridians or energy pathways.
The Five-Element Theory is another component of TCM. The world is composed of the five primary elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - and relates the elements to the five main organ systems of the human body; the liver/gallbladder, heart/small intestine, spleen/stomach, lungs/large intestine and kidney/urinary bladder.
By connecting the natural world to the human body, the Five-Element Theory helps show how aspects of natural occurrences, such as weather, season and flavor, are related to the way the body functions. If an imbalance exists in one of the elements, there is a loss of harmony in the body and often means an illness exists. The Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation explains, “the dynamic interactions enable all the Organ Systems to work in one, harmonious greater system.”
Common Practices of Chinese Medicine
Herbal therapy applies various herbs to medical issues. The flavors of the different herbs help determine which herb to use to cure an illness and restore health. Tcmpage.com explains how each herb possesses a different flavor that is associated with curing a specific area. For example, a bitter flavor improves appetite and rids excessive heat from the body, sweet flavor treats dry coughs and balances systems in the body, spicy flavor circulates Qi and boosts metabolism, and salty flavor cleanses bowels and softens growths such as nodes.
Acupuncture is a form of TCM that pinpoints specific areas on the body to help alleviate pain associated with various illnesses and preserves overall health. Studies prove that acupuncture can help reduce symptoms associated with cacner, such as vomiting, nausea and fatigue. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, sicknesses arise when the body’s balance is thrown off, which results in blocking the travel of Qi along meridians. When acupuncture treats the afflicted areas, Qi can travel smoothly again and the body can return to a healthy well-being.
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