So What’s Up With Chinese Medicine?

In ancient China, there was a belief that all human beings are interconnected and a part of the universe. However, the Chinese believed this connection to everything around us also made us vulnerable, subject to the forces of the universe. When that connection would fall out of balance, illness, disease, and mental strife would result.

The central teachings of Chinese medicine are that restoring balance with each other and the universal elements (earth, water, fire, metal, and wood) keeps us healthy. Through different treatments and practices, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners seek to restore that balance (yin and yang) and help us maintain it.

What Are Chinese Medicines?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is guided by a fundamental concept that has not changed for thousands of years. At its heart, TCM practitioners maintain that the Qi, our vital energy or life force, surges throughout the body and that any imbalance in the body’s Qi will result in illness and disease.

There are more than 13,000 Chinese medicinals, with more than 100,000 recorded in their ancient literature. Though the most common materials used in traditional Chinese medicine come from plants and extracts, some Chinese medicine involves acupuncture, the most well-known and researched Western medicine. The exercise known as Tai Chi is also a TCM practice used to harness and balance the flow of Qi through focus and concentration.
physiotherapist doing acupuncture on the back

Other TCM treatments may include:

  • Cupping – warm glass jars creating suction on certain parts of the body
  • Massage
  • Moxibustion – herbal leaves burned near or on the body

Herbal products in Chinese medicine range from the familiar Ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, and willow bark to the more obscure and strange-sounding herbs, such as horny goat weed, crow dipper, and thunder god vine. Goji berries found now in drinks, snacks, and supplements are also Chinese herbs.

Some traditional Chinese herbal medicines also use fungi, heavy metals, and parts from animals. Claims that these products cure everything from cancer to fibromyalgia and more are not consistently evidence-based. In addition, some herbal products are not available in the United States and elsewhere because the source is an endangered species or plant.

Chinese Medicine and Alternative Healing

Many people have embraced TCM treatments by finding natural solutions to their pain and discomfort or even cures for their illnesses. In addition, some of the practices in Chinese medicine, especially the mind and body practices such as Tai Chi, acupuncture, and massage, have demonstrated the capability to ease pain effectively and improve a person’s life in many ways.

Like many alternative healing methods, Chinese medicine offers patients the opportunity to pursue healing practices at home. Individuals can also use it in conjunction with other treatment programs. The emphasis in TCM of balancing body and mind is a natural solution for those suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression, all conditions of imbalance within that affect these areas.

Traditional Chinese medicine also embraces the many-layered elements of health and well-being. For example, medication for chronic pain is necessary for many people but prefer not to use it. Understanding how our bodies discern pain and how we can learn to calm and improve our body’s response to pain can reduce or even eliminate the need for these pain medications.

Through practices and treatments, traditional Chinese medicine offers complementary and alternative medicine for self-care.

Do Chinese Medicines Work?

Many Chinese medicinal herbs have been studied to determine their effectiveness in treating medical conditions. Results of these clinical trials have been mixed. Some of the studies were later found to be of poor quality, so conclusions about their effectiveness could not be made.

In some cases, randomized controlled trials have found that people using authentic TCM treatments and using incorrect TCM treatments benefitted equally. These results indicate that while medicines and practices may help the patient, the patient’s mindset and willingness to achieve balance are equally important.

Currently, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is funding research into treatments and practices of traditional Chinese medicine, including:

  • How acupuncture eases the joint pain of breast cancer patients
  • The effects of TCM on fibromyalgia
  • TCM alternatives for cardiac rehabilitation patients, including Tai Chi

Should I Start Taking Chinese Medicines?

If you consider taking any traditional Chinese medicines or utilizing treatments and practices such as acupuncture or Tai Chi, talk with your health care providers first. TCM should not be used to replace conventional medical care or treatments. Do not rely solely on TCM and delay seeking medical care for a serious illness or disease.

If you have an existing health condition or are taking prescription medications, consult with your health care provider first before adding any TCM herbal medicine or dietary supplement to your regimen. Some TCM remedies may be toxic when taken with certain medications or could cause complications or side effects, so talk with your doctor.

If you are pregnant or nursing, check with your health care provider to ensure your safety and that of your child. Also, consult your child’s doctor before administering any TCM treatment or remedy.

Many states require certification for TCM practitioners. Ask about their training and experience, or consult the NCCIH’s website for more information about credentials and licensing for complementary health practitioners in your state.

Learn More About Chinese Medicine

Aequa Health & Wellness was founded with one goal in mind: to transform health and wellness care, one patient at a time. We understand that the best medical system is a balance between prevention and care and that each patient should have more control over their health care.

Founded and operated by Dr. Dan Fazio, Aequa Health & Wellness believes that health care should be customized to your unique needs, embracing natural solutions and complementary treatments, including traditional Chinese medicine, as well as more mainstream therapies.

For more information about the services and treatments we offer at Aequa Health & Wellness of St. Louis, MO, call us today at (636) 249-2126 and arrange a consultation.

Are you looking for a functional medicine doctor in St. Louis, Missouri?

Book a free consultation online or if you have any questions please call Aequa Health & Wellness today at 636-249-2126!