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Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for more than 2,000 years.

It is based on ensuring that opposing energies, called yin and yang, are in balance and that the life force or energy in every body, called qi, is also balanced and flowing freely.

When there's too little or too much qi in one of the body's energy pathways or when the flow of qi is blocked, illness results.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

'TCM encompasses many different practices, including acupuncture, moxibustion (burning an herb above the skin to apply heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, tui na (Chinese therapeutic massage), dietary therapy, and tai chi and qi gong (practices that combine specific movements or postures, coordinated breathing, and mental focus). TCM is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 2,500 years. Traditional systems of medicine also exist in other East and South Asian countries, including Japan (where the traditional herbal medicine is called Kampo) and Korea. Some of these systems have been influenced by TCM and are similar to it in some ways, but each has developed distinctive features of its own.'

Please Note

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

  • 'Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Improperly performed acupuncture can cause potentially serious side effects.
  • Tai chi and qi gong, two mind and body practices used in TCM, are generally safe.
  • There have been reports of Chinese herbal products being contaminated with drugs, toxins, or heavy metals or not containing the listed ingredients. Some of the herbs used in Chinese medicine can interact with drugs, have serious side effects, or be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions.
  • For most conditions, there is not enough rigorous scientific evidence to know whether TCM methods work for the conditions for which they are used.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.'

Related Pages

Related Glossaries


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Updated
25 Oct 2017