Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been healing people for thousands of years. Although quite different from Western practices, there are at least five lessons that we can glean from its method and philosophy.
1. Listen – TCM practitioners pay attention to the whole body. Using their senses – sight, smell, hearing, feeling and even taste — to pick up on messages from the body. For the Eastern practitioner, a reddish complexion indicates heat. A sweet smell often points to spleen deficiency and/or dampness problems.
2. Treat the problem not just the symptoms – In most Western medicine, painkillers are prescribed for the pain. In TCM, pain is due to the non-free flow of qi (energy) and/or blood. When the qi and blood flow freely, there is no pain. Therefore, it is essential to keep our qi and blood full and moving freely for optimal health and well-being and especially for being pain free.
3. Treat the whole person – Western medicine focuses on the organs. Eastern medicine treats people as the whole – mind, body and spirit. A TCM practitioner inquires about family, diet, and life stressors, among other areas. S/he takes into consideration what’s going on in the patient’s life.
4. Health is not just about disease, it’s also about wellness – We often see the yin-yang symbol associated with Chinese Medicine. That’s because TCM believes m keeping the body in balance. It addresses wellness as well as prevention.
5. Evidence is in the eyes of the beholder – Many who’ve been treated by Eastern remedies have said that they were able to get relief for ailments that Western treatments failed them. Could it be a placebo effect? Possibly. But even scientific research acknowledges that empirical evidence is not the only method of confirmation. For the rational mind, it’s difficult to accept that we may not be able to explain why – yet positive results have been supported.
More research in TCM practices will continue. In the meantime, it’s valuable to be open to the lessons it can provide.