My medicine is 3000 or more years old. I see that as a huge plus! After all, billions–yes, billions–of people have used this medicine, all the while learning from it and refining it.
Despite it’s age, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is showing no signs of slowing down, at least not in North America, where it continues to grow its following. One of the reasons for the longevity of this medicine is that it is not reliant on the labelling of diseases.
Conventional medicine often requires a disease label with a specific positive lab test result before it can prescribe a pill to try to reverse the symptoms. This means that “new” diseases are often hard to treat as they have no label. Have you ever been stuck with no solutions or treatments when all tests came back “normal?”
TCM looks for observable signs and patterns of symptoms for its diagnosis. This is why “new” diseases can still be addressed by TCM without an official label. So, while we may now encounter fewer cases of “ancient” diseases such as polio, we can still treat relatively modern patterns of illness such as adrenal fatigue and type II diabetes.
Modern day medicine puts scientific evidence as most important to demonstrate a treatment’s effectiveness. I agree, scientific proof is very important. Traditional Chinese Medicine has thousands of years of observational study to support its use. There is also a relative plethora of modern research about the therapies of TCM–herbs and acupuncture, in particular–and you can access that by searching it out on Google Scholar or checking out PubMed.
Modern TCM also recognizes the benefits of other modern day therapies. Testing methods, like xrays, MRIs, CT scans, electrocardiograms, blood tests, ultrasound, allergy testing, and so forth are not to be discounted. They can be hugely beneficial to our understanding of the human body and give diagnostic guidance. Modern treatments, such as antibiotics, surgeries, and medications, have also saved lives. If someone were to fall off a ladder and bleed from a deep cut on her head, I would recommend going to a hospital to get stitches, be tested for a concussion, and receive proper acute care. After being bandaged up and sent home, I would recommend receiving acupuncture and herbs to help speed the healing of the body and reduce the negative impacts of the concussion.
Modern TCM is found in hospitals, care homes, corporate wellness programs, and integrative medicine clinics–like the one that I’m a part of.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, like all lasting therapies and medicines, must continue to evolve in order to stay relevant to our current lives, all the while maintaining its core of being holistic, treating the whole person and not just the disease. With that as its foundation, I expect that TCM will continue to be a modern ancient medicine for many more years to come.