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Traditional Chinese Medicine

Find a professional for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Chicago


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most widely studied and practiced system of Chinese medicine today. Its fundamental principles are rooted in Classical Chinese Medicine, which dates back three to five thousand years and had long been disseminated through various lineages and apprenticeships. In the early 20th century, the political leaders in China sought to abandon and outlaw Classical Chinese Medicine in favor of Western medicine. In the mid1950s, as a political attempt to revitalize China, Mao Zedong reversed his previous stance and publicly embraced the value of Chinese medicine. In the years to come, a traditional medicine reform took place, and an institutionalized system of standardized theories and practices was created to fit within a western biomedical paradigm — thus giving birth to TCM.

Today TCM is considered an integrated system of acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na (Chinese massage), Chinese food therapy, and movement such as qi gong or tai chi. It seeks to diagnose and treat the patient from a holistic perspective based on signs and symptoms from both Western and Eastern points of view. Taking blood pressure and listening with a stethoscope is often combined with palpating various qualities of pulse along the radial artery and observing color, shape, and texture changes of a patient's tongue. Through the process of differential diagnosis these signs and symptoms are then translated into a TCM diagnosis by combining zang fu theory and eight principals diagnosis. Zang fu theory explains the physiological function, pathological changes, and mutual relationships of every zang (solid) and fu (hollow) organ. Eight principal diagnosis is a way of sorting out disease as being more yin versus yang, more hot versus cold, more interior versus exterior, and more excess versus deficiency. For example, if a person is complaining of diarrhea, there could be a number of possible TCM diagnoses for diarrhea (e.g. Stomach Yin Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, etc.). A specific set of symptoms allows the practitioner to choose a proper diagnosis over the others. With this in mind, there is an appropriate set of acupuncture points and herbs that could be prescribed having the action of addressing that particular diagnosis and associated symptoms.

Author: David Tucker, LAc, LMP

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