Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine, or traditional Chinese medicine, is thousands of years old and one of the most traditional healing systems on earth. Central to Chinese medicine is the principle of qi, or energy, which travels along invisible meridians, on the surface of the body, and through internal organs. A balance of this energy is crucial for maintaining good health. To a physician of Chinese medicine, visible illness is preceded by invisible illness, and detection of nascent diseases is a main focus and a potentially powerful approach to health care.

The polarities of yin and yang are an important aspect of Chinese medicine, describing the interdependence and relationship of opposites. Yin refers to the tissue of an organ and yang to its activity. A yin deficiency means the organ does not have enough raw materials to function; in a yang deficiency, the organ does not react adequately when needed. The organs of the body work synergistically, each one either nourishes or inhibits the proper functioning of another.

The methods of diagnosis are observing the patient's outward appearance, demeanor, body language, complexion, and tongue; the smell of the breath, skin, and secretions; and the tone and strength of the voice. Questions are asked regarding symptoms, medical history, diet, and lifestyle. A palpation test, which is the taking of the pulse, is conducted at six different locations at three depths on each wrist, with an analysis involving 28 different qualities. Once a diagnosis is made, the treatments involve one or more of the following: acupuncture which reestablishes the flow of energy to affected organs through needle stimulation, herbs and herbal combinations, diet adjustments, massage and manipulation, and therapeutic exercise specifically qigong.

In China, methods for conducting clinical studies differ from the West in that they consider giving a placebo to a sick person unethical. If they do use a placebo, they first offer the patient a choice. When double-blind studies are conducted, there is an application of two substances in which both are presumed to be effective. They believe the West relies too much on laboratory tests and not enough on how patients feel and their quality of life. Chinese medicine therapy is individualized and so there is not a standard treatment for any one condition. Studies in both the East and West have proven Chinese medicine to be effective in the treatment or prevention of nearly all common health conditions including infertility, digestive problems, respiratory ailments, cancer, brain dysfunctions, cardiovascular irregularities, and AIDS.

For more information contact: American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine,

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 201, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607, 919-787-5181; National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance, P.O. Box 77511, Seattle Washington 98177.

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