Oriental medicine (OM), which is defined by World Health Organization as East Asian medicine, is a theory-based medicine that originated from ancient China and it was speedily absorbed, modified and practiced within several China’s traditional cultural influenced countries (Korea, Japan and Vietnam). Unlike Western medicine (WM) constituted from various outcomes of experimental research designs coming along with the development of a great number of disciplines, OM is based on systematic observations and knowledge inherited from generation to generation. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. In the United States, TCM is considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. (CAM).
Traditional Chinese medicine, which encompasses many different practices, is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5,000 years. Today, TCM is practiced side by side with Western medicine in many of China’s hospitals and clinics.
TCM is widely used in the United States. Although the exact number of people who use TCM in the United States is unknown, it was estimated in 1997 that some 10,000 practitioners served more than 1 million patients each year. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included questions on the use of various CAM therapies, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year. In addition, according to this same survey, approximately 17 percent of adults use natural products, including herbs, making it the most commonly used therapy. In another survey, more than one-third of the patients at six large acupuncture clinics said they also received Chinese herbal treatments at the clinics.
Underlying the practice of TCM is a unique view of the world and the human body that is different from Western medicine concepts. This view is based on the ancient Chinese perception of humans as microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe – interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The human body is regarded as an organic entity in which the various organs, tissues, and other parts have distinct functions but are all interdependent. In this view, health and disease relate to balance of the functions.
If You Are Thinking About Using TCM
- Look for published research studies on TCM for the health condition that interests you.
- If you are thinking about trying TCM herbal remedies, it is better to use these products under the supervision of a medical professional trained in herbal medicine than to try to treat yourself.
- Ask about the training and experience of the TCM practitioner you are considering.
- Do not use TCM as a replacement for effective conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
- If you are pregnant or nursing, or are thinking of using TCM to treat a child, you should be especially sure to consult your health care provider.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.