With a successful history dating over 2,000 years, more and more people are turning to the unique medical system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help alleviate their illnesses, chronic conditions and pain. Though seeking out TCM is becoming increasingly popular with those dissatisfied or skeptical of conventional medicine, some people are still unfamiliar with all of the aspects of this medical system. For starters, TCM, like allopathic or conventional medicine, is a complete medical system. Where conventional medicine will use surgery, pharmaceutical drugs and physical therapy on patients, TCM will use acupuncture, herbs, tui na (a form of Chinese manipulative therapy) and food therapy. To explain the differentiating aspects even further, allopathic medicine focuses primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of disease, whereas TCM focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the imbalances of Yin/Yang, which become disease if left untreated.
For those still unsure about the benefits of TCM and whether it could be a helpful in relieving their pain and maladies, let’s take a closer look at some current research that has lead to greater acceptance of this medical system by the Western medical establishment.
For University of California Irvine professor and physicist Zang-Hee Cho, acupuncture was a “voodoo-like medicine,” until he slipped when walking up a mountain, causing his back to be so severely injured that he could barely move. When all else failed, Cho’s family suggested acupuncture. Cho, the inventor of an earlier version of the PET scan and pioneer of the MRI, admits that he was skeptical about his family’s advice. After several 15 minute acupuncture procedures, the pain was gone and his curiosity had now been piqued regarding this system of medicine. Wanting to come up with solid evidence on the effects of acupuncture, Cho did what he knew best – research. Cho used the modern technology of today, an MRI machine, and his experiments were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science – a global premier scientific journal. Cho’s experiments proved a direct correlation between acupuncture and the brain. Though he still is scratching the surface with his research into acupuncture and its benefits on various body systems, the scientist is now “hooked” and has applied to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine for a $12 million dollar grant in hopes of continuing his research.
And Cho isn’t the only pioneer in the medical community advocating TCM. Lee A. Nauss, M.D. and emeritus anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota stated, “We’ve used acupuncture at the Mayo Pain Clinic since 1974. If patients don’t respond to the types of treatment that usually work – medication and nerve blocks – then we consider acupuncture. Often in these circumstances, it is quite beneficial.”