TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most widely studied and practiced system of Chinese medicine today. How did this come to be the case? Its fundamental principles are rooted in what is commonly referred to as Classical Chinese Medicine which dates back three to five thousand years and had originally been disseminated through various lineages and master/apprentice style teachings. However, in the early 20th century, the political leaders in China sought to abandon and outlaw Classical Chinese Medicine in the wake of Western medicine. In the mid-1950s as a political attempt to revitalize China, Mao Zedong reversed his previous stance and publicly embraced the value of Chinese medicine. In the years to come, a traditional medicine reform took place, and a more institutionalized system of standardized theories and practices was created to fit within a western biomedical paradigm – thus giving birth to what we now know as TCM.
Today TCM is considered an integrated system of acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na (Chinese massage), Chinese food therapy, and movement such as qi gong and/or tai chi. Any given practitioner employs each of these modalities to greater or lesser degrees. TCM seeks to diagnose and treat the patient from a holistic perspective based on signs and symptoms from both a western and eastern point of view. Diagnostic tools such as taking blood pressure and listening with a stethoscope are commonly seen combined with palpating various qualities of pulse along the radial artery and observing color, shape, and texture changes of a person’s tongue. These can give information about what is happening within the meridian network of an individual.
Through the process of “differential diagnosis” these signs and symptoms are then translated into a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis. For example, if a person is complaining of insomnia, there could be 6 main possible TCM diagnoses to be considered. With this in mind, a practitioner would use specific acupuncture points and/or herbs to address the particular diagnosis and associated symptoms to restore proper balance.
In my experience of studying/practicing TCM, I feel like I received a great understanding of the energetic physiology of the Qi in our bodies, as it relates to the physical (blood, water, muscle, tendon, organ, etc). However, when it came to working on the deeper layers of mental, emotional, spiritual, I was left wanting more... which led me to Classical Five Element Acupuncture. So in my practice today, for most acute pain/injury and/or musculo-skeletal rehabilitation, I would most likely choose TCM to treat with. And for most chronic injury/illness, my default is usually to treat with Classical Five Element Acupuncture.