Chinese medicine, also called traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, is a complete system of medicine, recognized as such by the World Health Organization. Written records and literature detailing the theory and practice of Chinese medicine date back 2,300 years. Essential concepts of Chinese medicine such as yin and yang, qi, and five-element correspondences have been documented to 4,000 years ago, and are ultimately based on Taoist philosophy. Over centuries, gifted scholars and medical practitioners in China and other Asian countries developed a complex, interrelated way of assessing and treating the human body and its illnesses based on these concepts.
Acupuncture is one modality in Chinese medicine. In acupuncture treatment, fine acupuncture needles are inserted into the acupuncture points located on the body’s energy pathways to regulate and balance the energy flows. Chinese medicine also uses several other modalities to treat patients, including Chinese herbal formulas, moxibustion, tuina massage, dietary therapy, the energy-mobilizing practices of Qi Gong and Tai Chi, and lifestyle counseling. The primary objective of treatment is to create and maintain balanceand harmony within the body. Since illness and disease are seen as an imbalanced condition of the body, restoring balance means restoring health. Because Chinese medicine tends to view people as the totality of their bodily processes, including emotional, mental and spiritual aspects, Chinese medicine is generally perceived as more holistic than Western medicine. There is also a strong emphasis in Chinese medicine on maintaining healthy states and preventing illness, rather than waiting until disease presents itself, as Western medicine tends to do. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that it is particularly useful in the treatment of chronic, functional diseases or problems which do not respond readily to the quick fixes of surgery or drug therapy.