Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sometimes known as Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), is a stem of holistic medicine that originated in China over 3500 years ago. TCM encapsulates the modalities of herbal medicine, acupuncture, gua sha, cupping therapy and massage. In more recent times, TCM has started to include selected parts of Western medicine that enhance and expand the overall approach, making it more well rounded and effective.
In my experience, not only is TCM all the modalities listed above, it is a philosophy. A philosophy of prevention, not correction. It is often said that Western medicine leans too heavily to the side of correction and overuses harsh chemicals that can cause more harm than good. On the other side of the coin, TCM doesn’t have a lot of modern science backing it and lacks effectiveness in life-threatening situations, leaving people sceptical.
However, like in cooking, you can’t just dump some mincemeat atop a pile of overcooked pasta and call it Bolognese. The union of TCM and Western medicine creates the perfect balance and covers most of the medical landscape. And everyone is so different, that it would be beneficial to everyone to explore all the different healing modalities to find what suits you the best. You might find you need Western medicine for this and Chinese medicine for that.
Lisa Treharne is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner and has over 30 years experience both in China and here in Australia. I asked her why she thinks there is still some scepticism around Chinese medicine. Traditionally the raw herbs were boiled at home and the flavour would often put people off but she says that ‘this does not have to be the case today, as the herbs and formulas are all now available in pill or granular format’. She continues to say that she has always favoured Chinese herbal medicine but does use a combination of both Chinese and Western herbs.
TCM has a lot of offer to Western medicine and scientific progression in the modern world. This article, written in 2015 details a few professionals thoughts and conversations about where they see the future of TCM in the west, the lack of understanding behind it and how best to proceed.