The Everyman Guide to Chinese Medicine

What follows is an extract from our popular The Therapy Book: The essential A-Z guide to every holistic therapy, which will give you, in a nutshell – and in simple, plain everyday language – all you need to know to help you decide whether traditional Chinese medicine will be a suitable holistic health therapy for you.

What is traditional Chinese medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine is frequently referred to as simply ‘TCM’ and it encompasses many different traditional medical practises, some of which have been in use for thousands of years.

TCM, and its various individual forms of therapy, have seen a rise in popularity around the world over the past few decades in particular, despite the fact that it is seen in many countries as a form of alternative medicine and is, hence, not accepted by the conventional medical world as a valid form of treatment.

But some TCM therapies are now becoming recognised for their effectiveness and are becoming considered more as complementary forms of therapy.

TCM has developed over thousands of years to embrace many different theories behind health and wellbeing, though the underlying philosophy is the belief that human beings have a very complex relationship with the environment around them.

How does traditional Chinese medicine work?

Many of the therapies which are classified as being traditional Chinese medicine work on the same principles, and that is that the human body is like a small universe.

What this means is that the human body is made up of a series of systems which all work together to create balance and therefore to maintain health. To take the ‘small universe’ idea further, it means that if one aspect of the body is unbalanced, it has an effect on the whole. This balance is often referred to as ‘yin and yang’, and the body’s life force, or vital energy, known as ‘Qi’ plays an important part in many of the TCM therapies.

TCM also has its own model, or medical chart, of the body which is based on ‘meridians’ and the ‘meridian system’ which in a sense ties the body together.

The TCM medical chart illustrates the meridian points on the body – these are the points which need manipulation in some way to restore balance and therefore well-being. You may hear these referred to as the ‘acupuncture points’ even though the therapy being discussed is not necessarily acupuncture.

Beyond the above generalisation, there are obviously differences in how the various forms of therapy work. Some examples of therapies considered to be part of traditional Chinese medicine include: acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping and Qigong.

What can traditional Chinese medicine therapy be used for?

Because TCM is a complete medical system, there are really no boundaries as to what it can be used to treat, and different forms of therapy will be good for different forms of disease.

Is traditional Chinese medicine an effective form of therapy?

TCM has been relied upon for thousands of years as the only form of medical care in its country of origin, which would suggest that there must be some effectiveness for it to have lasted this long, and for it to now be used to some extent around the world also.

But TCM is considered to be an alternative medicine especially in many Western countries where the emphasis is on science and proof of effectiveness, hence opinion is divided.

Because acupuncture has become such a common form of treatment, much study has been conducted as to its effectiveness. Results have been mixed, showing that it can be good for some conditions, but not so effective for others.

Are there any known side effects with traditional Chinese medicine?

The likelihood of side effects really depends on what type of TCM is being used. There are some precautions to be taken against possible risks with some forms of TCMm but if you are using a reputable practitioner, these will be taken into account and explained, if necessary, during the consultation.

Our popular holistic health manual The Therapy Book is encyclopaedic in depth and scope, but at the same time gives you the least you need to know, in the simplest of terms, about how to choose the best holistic therapy for your health needs.

This is the ultimate natural health reference book for your shelves, with comprehensive information on hundreds of alternative and complementary health therapies, all in an easily understandable format.

It is easily searchable, uses plain language and is organised into easy-to-digest, bite-sized chunks, so you will soon know…

  • what each therapy is
  • how each therapy works
  • what each therapy can be used for
  • whether the therapy is effective
  • whether there are any known side effects

The Therapy Book is the perfect gift for discerning individuals who like to look after their own health and wellbeing, as well as holistic health practitioners who wish to use it as a comprehensive resource with which to continue their professional development.

You can read more here about The Therapy Book

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