If you’ve ever been curious about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but wondered what makes it different, or what it could do for you, here are some compelling benefits to consider.

Most people have heard about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), more and more folks in the United States have actually tried them, but people don't always realize some of the key benefits they should be considering.

1) Traditional Chinese Medicine is Holistic: it looks at the whole person and what's happening in their whole life.

One of my clients was noticing that he had excruciating back pain but medical exams and testing showed no reason for the back pain. After talking to him for a while it became clear that the real problem was his job situation. His boss had recently cut back his work hours significantly and he was very concerned about how he would pay his bills. He really needed to address the problem with his job and what his next steps were. In addition to treating the back pain with acupuncture, we did some coaching around an action plan for his job situation.

Pain is usually your body trying to get you to pay attention to something, whether it's a physical injury or arthritis or other problems.

Another client I worked with had very painful arthritis. He had been a professional athlete. He was retired now and had arthritis in his hips and in his legs. It was so bad that he could hardly walk. I asked Bill about his diet, because I had a hunch that maybe there was something in his diet that was an underlying cause of the kind of arthritis he had. When I asked him about his diet I asked whether he ate a lot of sugar, or a lot of dairy products, or if he drank alcohol. It turned out he did drink quite a bit of alcohol, and he asked, “Do you want me to cut back?” I said, “As a matter of fact I'd like you try an experiment here. I really would like you to cut back on your alcohol and see what happens.” So he cut back on his alcohol intake very significantly, and he noticed that the more he cut back on his alcohol intake, the more the pain and the swelling went down in his leg and hips. He was a wonderful person to work with because he was willing to make the changes, but he was also wonderful because he saw the link between his behavior and the outcome he didn't want. He ultimately chose to change his alcohol intake on an ongoing basis so that it would help his pain and his ability to walk.

2) Traditional Chinese Medicine offers more specific diagnoses for common problems than Western Medicine. What I mean by this can be illustrated when you think about catching a cold.

Have you ever noticed that everyone catches a cold in his or her own way?

Most of us catch colds. From the perspective of Western medicine we say “I have a cold”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are many kinds of colds and they’re all different. For example you could have a “Wind Cold”, or a “Wind Heat”, or even “Lung Heat”. To the TCM practitioner they look different and are treated differently. To treat each of the ten or twenty kinds of colds you use a different acupuncture treatment and you prescribe a different herbal remedy. It’s a much more precise diagnosis and a much more precise remedy.

Most teachers dread catching a cold, but since they work with lots of young people they’re exposed to plenty of colds. A teacher who is one of my clients says:

“As a teacher I can’t afford to be sick. When a cold, or flu is going around at school I’m careful to take preventative measures. Nonetheless every now and again I get sick. I’ve learned that the best way to recover from a cold, cough or flu is to have an acupuncture treatment and then follow it up with Chinese herbal remedies.”

She was curious about why she wasn’t given the same herbal formula each time she was sick. I explained that there are different kinds of colds, and that in TCM we match both the acupuncture treatment and the herbal formula to the specific symptoms we observe. Giving a person with a “Wind Cold” the treatment for “Wind Heat” will not solve the problem, in fact it can worsen the symptoms. It’s analogous to the situation in Western Medicine when a doctor treats a virus with the remedy for a bacterial infection. It most likely won’t solve the problem and it may upset the patient’s stomach.

Best of all, my client was thrilled that even when she did get sick, she recovered faster than her colleagues. Here’s her testimonial:

“The amazing thing is that with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine I always get better faster than all of my colleagues who are relying on Western medicine, and I actually feel stronger after I have fully recovered.”

3) My clients are always amazed to discover that there are Chinese diagnoses that don’t exist in other types of medicine that precisely describe their problems.

One of my clients, a very health conscious lady, went to visit her older sister in another state. When she returned home after a week at her sister’s house she was glad to be home, but found that she had a very unusual cough. She mentioned that visiting her sister was often trying and this visit was no exception. The cough she had puzzled her because it felt as though there was something in her throat, but she couldn’t cough it up or get it to descend from her throat. I explained that in Chinese medicine this is a textbook case, and I showed her the description in my textbook for what’s known as “plum pit throat”. She was amazed that Chinese medicine had a name, an acpuncture treatment and a specific herbal remedy for this problem; and sure enough, it worked.

Another case of a Chinese diagnosis and treatment that worked involved a young graduate student who had very unusual stress-related digestive symptoms, which included fixed, stabbing pain. She had every test that Western doctors could think of for the symptoms she had, including an endoscopy to make sure that she didn’t have stomach cancer, but no one could come up with a conclusive diagnosis. One of my teachers treated this young woman for “blood stagnation” with acupuncture and two Chinese herbal formulas. The symptoms, which had plagued her for eighteen months, completely disappeared.

4) Chinese herbal formulas offer non-pharmaceutical solutions that are often more effective. One of my clients had a very high stress (high tech) job and noticed that she was getting a lot of urinary tract infections. When she relied on antibiotics to treat her symptoms she would get a secondary infection because the antibiotics killed off the good bacteria in her system. When we treated her with acupuncture and Chinese herbal antibiotics, she got better faster and never got a secondary infection.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is powerful because it considers the whole person and what’s happening in the person’s life. Many of the diagnoses and prescriptions for common complaints offered by TCM are more specific than those offered by Western Medicine. TCM even includes diagnoses and treatments for conditions not recognized by Western Medicine. Chinese herbal formulas offer non-pharmaceutical options that can often be more effective than pharmaceutical solutions.

Author's Bio: 

Nina Price is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Business and Wellness Coach who helps people “push the reset button” on their health, their careers, and the rest of their lives, so that they can prevent burnout and have the professional life they want, no matter what happens.