Chinese medicine is thousands of years old, and from the start practitioners have used it to keep their patients’ health in balance. While the early history of Chinese medicine is difficult to pin down, it emerged in China during the Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1045 BC) and the earliest medical texts were developed during the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD).
Today, traditional Chinese medicine consists of several therapies, along with a wholistic philosophy of health that complements western medicine well. Because there is a neat overlap between east and west, some practices combine them to achieve better efficacy for patients.
If your symptoms haven’t been adequately addressed by allopathic therapy, supplementing treatment with Chinese medicine may help. It’s important, though, to choose a Houston licensed practice for treatment, and one that includes western modalities for its patients.
What Treatments do Chinese Medicine Practitioners Use?
Over the centuries, Chinese medicine evolved in a way unlike western allopathic medicine. With allopathic medicine, new treatments replace old therapies as research and information is gathered. With traditional Chinese medicine, though, new knowledge is integrated into existing therapies, so those therapies can be delivered with greater efficacy.
Some of the most common Chinese medicine treatments include:
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture is perhaps the best-known Chinese medicine therapy and the most popular one in the west. Every year, more than 10 million acupuncture sessions are provided to people in the U.S., and this number keeps growing.
During an acupuncture session, fine-gauge needles are inserted into the skin. They are not inserted enough to cause pain or bleeding, as long as the treatment is administered by an experienced practitioner.
Acupuncture’s efficacy has been demonstrated through research literature, though the exact mechanisms of action aren’t fully understood. A widespread theory of acupuncture is that it stimulates the nervous system to release health-supporting and relief-providing compounds in the body.
Some acupuncture practitioners may also provide electroacupuncture. During electroacupuncture, a weak electric current is passed through the needles following insertion. Practitioners believe this amplifies the effects of nerve stimulation.
- Herbal therapy – Chinese medicine has explored herbal therapies for millennia. Botanicals are prescribed by practitioners depending on the patient’s condition and reported symptoms. Chinese herbal therapy is the subject of much medical research, particularly into heart disease, stroke, and various respiratory illnesses (including the common cold).
It is extremely important to receive herbs from a licensed provider, as improper dosing can cause adverse effects.
- Moxibustion – Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy that practitioners believe improves the effects of acupuncture. During moxibustion, mugwort leaves are burned and the heat is applied near or on the patient’s body. This can be done directly, with the leaves placed on the patient and then burned. It can also be done indirectly, with the leaves burned separate from the patient and the heat then applied to the patient.
In both cases, moxibustion has been found to be effective for several conditions, including chronic kidney disease and hot flashes.
During examination, the Houston practitioner will determine which of the above therapies are recommended for the patient’s condition. For most patients, a combination of the above is recommended.
How Can Chinese Medicine Help Patients With Whole-Body Health?
Western and eastern medicine approach disease from two completely different angles. Both have also provided results to millions and millions of patients. Instead of competing with each other, western and eastern medical philosophies are actually complementary and can each play a role in patient health.
Here’s how eastern medicine helps, not hinders, western therapies:
- Chinese medicine takes a wholistic approach – Chinese medicine practitioners don’t compartmentalize the body into various organ systems. This is useful for allopathic doctors administering drugs, but eastern medicine believes the patient’s health is an interconnected system.
This is most notable during acupuncture, as some acupuncture points may be located far from the site of pain or other symptoms.
The goal for practitioners, then, is to provide treatment that supports the body systemically. This can be as simple as reducing stress levels so the body can heal itself faster and better.
- Chinese medicine focuses on illness prevention – Chinese medicine considers the body in total, so it is better focused on preventing disease than responding with precise treatments. From the doctor’s point of view, it’s better to maintain the body’s balance instead of correcting symptoms as they emerge. This reinforces the patient’s own disease-fighting capabilities and reduces the likelihood of developing illness.
- Chinese medicine offers low-risk treatment options – Allopathic medicine is effective, but it can produce unwanted side effects. This is particularly true of drug therapies and surgery.
Comparatively, the risks of eastern medicine are slight, especially if it is provided by a Houston licensed practitioner. Their minimal downside means eastern therapies can be used in a greater variety of patients, including patients who cannot receive certain medications or are not an ideal candidate for surgery.
Where Does Chinese Medicine Fit in a Modern Health Regimen?
Eastern therapies are used as support, or adjunct, therapies for an array of diseases. Adjunct therapies are not intended to replace allopathic treatments, such as surgery or medication. Instead, eastern practices enhance the efficacy of allopathic medicine and can provide relief from many symptoms. For example, research shows that Chinese medicine is particularly effective for the following:
- Pain, including muscle and nerve pain
- Fatigue, whether acute or chronic
- Anxiety, depression, and stress
- Hormonal imbalances
- Metabolic issues
- Cardiovascular disease, including hypertension
- GI conditions and symptoms, including diarrhea and constipation
As an adjunct, eastern practices like acupuncture and moxibustion can help in a large variety of chronic conditions. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends acupuncture for more than 100 conditions and diseases and is also recommended for symptoms arising from surgery or cancer treatment.
In short, Chinese therapies can support the patient’s whole-body health with minimal adverse effects. That makes eastern medicine a viable option for almost any condition.
Licensed Practitioners Can Combine the Best of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Western Medicine
Eastern and western medicine have vastly different approaches to treatment, but they are aligned behind supporting better patient outcomes. As such, many Houston practitioners borrow from both to give their patients the best possible care.
In fact, some Houston practices are licensed to provide both allopathic and Chinese medicine. This dual approach ensures all potential treatment options are explored and applied with minimal risk. When considering Chinese medical practitioners, licensing is something to look for, as well as experience in allopathic medicine.