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Traditional Chinese Medicine

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(truh-DIH-shuh-nul chy-NEEZ MEH-dih-sin) A medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

History

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use various mind and body practices (such as acupuncture and tai chi) as well as herbal products to address health problems.

Yin and Yang

It is based on the belief that qi (the body's vital energy) flows along meridians (channels) in the body and keeps a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health in balance.

Traditional Chinese medicine aims to restore the body’s balance and harmony between the natural opposing forces of yin and yang, which can block qi and cause disease.

Traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, and massage. Also called Oriental medicine and TCM.

Acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture treatment
Cosmetic acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, usually by inserting thin needles through the skin. Studies suggest that acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s natural painkillers and affects areas in the brain involved in processing pain; however, some trials suggest that real acupuncture and sham acupuncture are equally effective, indicating a placebo effect. Results from a number of studies, however, suggest real acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic, such as low-back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. For more information, see NCCIH’s acupuncture fact sheet.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi
Tai Chi

Tai chi combines certain postures, gentle movements, mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. Research findings suggest that practicing tai chi may improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s disease, reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain, and promote quality of life and improve mood in people with heart failure.

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