Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Page

All forms of medicine, whether conventional or alternative have one goal — health. The difference is the way they try to achieve this goal.

Conventional medicine identifies disease and finds ways to combat it through treating the symptoms. In other words, it focuses on treating the condition.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a picture of health based on viewing the body and its functions as a unified whole. Life-style, diet, mental-emotional state and constitution are all considered when evaluating this overall picture. Any imbalance of normal bodily functions causing conditions such as menstrual problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis, migraine headaches, anxiety and depression cannot be understood solely in isolation but must be evaluated and treated by looking at the whole person. As Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, we attempt to rectify balance in a person rather than pursue the illness.

The term prevention is synonymous with natural medicine. The TCM legacy lies in its ability to prevent and treat illness, which may not be viewed in the early stages as a disease. TCM pays close attention to various signs of imbalance, which when left unchecked, can lead to illness. These signs may be things we’ve come to live with — signs that are not yet seen as “disease” by conventional medical definition, but may eventually lead to it. Frequently catching colds, exhaustion felt even after a full night’s rest, heartburn experienced after most meals, or frequent headaches. We’ve all experienced one or more of these from time to time, but if they occur frequently or are prolonged it indicates imbalance, and according to TCM that’s exactly how illness can develop.

Evaluating a headache illustrates just how detailed a TCM examination can be. Headache felt behind the eyes triggered by stress is quite different from one experienced at the nape of the neck after catching a cold. Defining it as a headache may allow us to categorize it into a condition, but does little to tell us the nature of the headache. Where in the head is it located? Is the pain dull, throbbing, moving, fixed, stabbing? Is the headache accompanied with nausea, visual disturbance, dizziness? What, if any, triggers have been identified like stress, diminished energy, temperature fluctuations?  Knowing the headache’s nature allows one to successfully treat it and finding its cause enables one to prevent recurrence.

This does not mean that TCM is a substitute for conventional medicine, as both have their strengths. Conventional medicine has no medical equivalent when addressing emergency or trauma situations.

But, as one historian remarked, “More people have benefited from Acupuncture over the course of 50 centuries than the combined total of all other healing sciences, both ancient and modern.”

©2012 Julian Jones, D.Ac., D.TCM All rights reserved.