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Traditional Chinese Medicine includes a range of traditional medical practices originating in China. It is considered as a complimentary medicine in the western world, though it remains a primary form of medical care throughout Asia.

TCM practices include treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture,, dietary therapy, Tui na and Shiatsu massage; often Qigong and Taiji are also strongly affiliated with TCM. TCM theory is extremely complex and originated thousands of years ago through meticulous observation of nature, the cosmos, and the human body.

Much of the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine reflects the classical chinese belief that the life and activity of individual human beings have an intimate relationship with the environment at all scales.

Contact with western culture and medicine has not displaced TCM. TCM is increasingly more popular, and there are a few reasons for this, including the following:

- TCM practices are believed by many to be very effective, sometimes offering efficacy where the western medicine fails. Particularly for fairly routine ailments like colds, flu, and allergies.
- TCM provides an alternative to otherwise costly procedures whom many can not afford, or which is not covered by insurance.
- Many also turn to TCM to avoid the toxic side effects of pharmaceuticals.

TCM has been used as a integral part of extending health services in China into more rural areas & regions, as the costs of equiping and staffing a TCM hospital (along with staff training) are considerably lower than for a western style medical hospital.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Approaches
The main approaches incorporated in TCM are a number of alternative & holistic approaches, including acupuncture, Tu Na Massage, Dietetics and Herbal Medicine (very well known).

TCM Theory
TCM theory is based largely on the concept that the human body is a small universe, with a set of interconnected systems that are complete and sophisticated, and that they work together in balance to maintain healthy function of the human body as a whole. TCM has a unique model of the body, concerned with the meridian system.

Theories invoked to describe the human body in TCM include:
• Yin or Yang
• Five elements
• Zang Fu theory
• Meridian (Chinese medicine)
• Three Jiaos (also known as the Triple Burner or the Triple warmer)

Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes. Acupuncture is thought to have originated in China and is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Different types of acupuncture (Classical Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Korean acupuncture) are practiced and taught throughout the world.

Although acupuncture has been a subject of scientific research since the late 20th Century, it remains controversial amongst clinicians and researchers; however, in a 2007 review by Edzard Ernst and his colleagues, they found that “emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions”.

Many official medical bodies, including the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the American Medical Association (to name just two) have studied and reported on the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Generally there is agreement that acupuncture is safe when carried out using sterile needles by well trained practitioners, and that further research should be carried out.

US Popularity
Acupuncture became popular in the USA in the 1970s, after American visitors to China returned to report of individuals in China undergoing major surgery, during which acupuncture was utilized as the only form of anesthesia. The National Acupuncture Association (NAA) introduced acupuncture to the West through research presentations & seminars. The first legal clinic in a medical school setting in the US was opened in 1972 by the NAA.

Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture (TCM)
TCM describes the free flow of Qi (commonly translated as “vita energy”) as important to acupuncture. TCM states that acupuncture treatment regulates the flow of Qi and blood. It drains Qi and blood where there is an excess, and tonifies where there is a deficiency. An axiom of the medical literature of acupuncture is “no pain, no blockage; no blockage, no pain.”

Acupuncture Points and Meridians
There main acupuncture points are found on the “twelve main meridians” and two of the “eight extra meridians”, resulting in a total of fourteen channels. There are other points that may be needled, known as “ashi points” as they are thought to be where stagnation has gathered. The twelve main channels correspond to systems of function, such as the Stomach, Spleen, Heart, and Lungs. Other pathways utilized in acupuncture are the Luo vessels, the Divergents and the Sinew Channels. Ashi points are generally used for treatment of localized pain.

Traditional Acupuncture Diagnosis
Traditional acupuncturists utilize 4 main methods to work on a patient diagnosis, which are known as inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring and palpation.

Inspection focuses on the face overall, with particular emphasis on the tongue, including things like it’s color, shape, the degree of tension in the tongue, whether there are or aren’t teeth marks along it’s edge and it’s size and coating.

Auscultation and olfaction refer to the TCM acupuncturist listening for specific sounds (like wheezy breathing) and also focusing on body odor.

Inquiring focuses on the “seven inquiries”, which are: appetite, taste and thirst, perspiration, urination & defecation, sleep, pain and menses (periods) and lukorrhea, and chills & fever. Palpation includes feeling the body for tender “ashi” points, and palpation of the left and right radial pulses at two levels of pressure (superficial and deep).

There are some other forms of acupuncture which employ more traditional methods of diagnosis.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?
Alcohol Addiction, Allergies, Anxiety, Asthma, Bells’ Palsy, Bronchitis, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Colds and Flu, Colitis, Constipation, Cystitis, Depression, Diarrhea, Drug Addiction, Fibromyalgia, Food allergies, Gastritis, Headaches, Heartburn, Infertility, Insomnia, Irregular or heavy periods, Irritable bowel, Laryngitis, Meniere’s disease, Menopausal Symptoms, Menstrual Cramps, Movement Disorders, Neck and back pain, Nicotine Addition, Pain from injuries, Post stroke recovery, Recurrent Infections, Sciatica, Sinusitis, Sore Throat, Supportive treatment for cancer and AIDS patients, Tendonitis, Tinnitus, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Ulcers