TCM does have its limitations, like the following:
1. TCM cannot cure people with unhealthy life style, such as staying up late or even overnight, excessive use of brain, accumulation of stress, depression, drinking ice water, lack of exercise, eating processed foods, excessive take of western medicine, etc.
1) These TCM physicians are limited in number;
2) Some of such experiences are restricted by modern medicine management regulations and cannot be popularized in most places of today’s world. For instance, some prescription have been validated to be very effective in treatment of a variety of medium or advanced cancers; however, because of a crucial yet controversial TCM component of monkshood, whose toxicity is pretty large by modern standard, the difficulty in populating such prescriptions is tremendous.
(Note: once decocted in water for extended period of time, the toxicity of monkshood is largely reduced and by no means comparable with that of crude monkshood, but its curative rationale of ‘counteract one toxin with another’ bear immense efficacy against a multitude of stubborn disease)
As a result, when diseases developed to the stage of organic illnesses, very few TCM physicians possess both ability and condition of treatment to bring patient back to health, while the majority of TCM physicians are powerless under such circumstances.
This article is based on the content of “Deciphering TCM” by Tongmei Pan; the original book was written in Chinese.
The answer is it’s not entirely applicable, because there are huge differences between the living of ancient and modern people:
1) Time of sleep: there was no convenience of electric light in old times, so very few people could stay up all night. Generally people were already sound asleep at 9 PM, and got up as early as 4 to 5 AM.
2) Life style- ancient people do not have access to the multitude of entertainment as we do today, such as sound and light stimulation in the form of TV, film, cell phone and internet.
3) No electric products- mainly no refrigerator, so ancient people did not have access to ice water or cold food.
4) Means of transportation- ancient people did not have vehicles like cars, and had to rely on their feet mostly of the time, which results more exercise than modern people.
5) Food- there was no fertilizer in old times, so all foods were organic.
6) No Western Medicine in ancient times- so no one could take both Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) and Western Medicine at the same time.
There are several causes for meridians to be blocked:
1) Invasion of chill into the body *- residual chill from past illnesses results chronicle entrapment of chill inside the body.
2) Discordance of functioning of viscera/internal organs *- the cause is complicated, which includes factors such as unhealthy living habit, worry, personality, etc. For example, sleep deprivation at night would hurt the liver; frequent sobbing would hurt the lung. Moreover, these viscera would in turn affect one another, so usually disease is not confined to one organ. As a result, the cause and treatment methods for this type of disease is extraordinary complicated, hence the name of “miscellaneous diseases”.
3) Traumas and injuries
It is simply “Impeded meridian/channels leads to illness, and unimpeded meridian/channels leads to no disease”. Almost all diseases are caused by impeded meridian within the body. The gist of TCM treatment is dredging of the meridian/channels.
In U.S., Chinese herbal medicine, or Chinese traditional medicine (CTM) is not defined as medicine, but food, which makes much sense.
TCM actually belongs to food of a specific nature. The majority of them originate from plant, and can count as a vegetables of particular functionalities. Sometimes they are a type of mineral or animal, but most of them are fully edible, therefore can be categorized as food. These specific foods all bear certain biased attributes, such as cold, heat and dryness. Because of this biased nature, it is normally advised not to eat too much of a particular one at the same time, but only when the inner balance of the body is broken and needs to be restored. On the other hand, some CTM belong to food of neutral attribute, such as yam and white hyacinth bean. These can be eaten frequently, and are often used in food therapy.
TCM is a sort of food, but may generate side effect when taken mistakenly; if, however, administered properly, even ‘toxic’ foods would not do us any harm. In this sense there is no ‘side effect’ in taking the CTM, only ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ direction at which the medicine is administered regarding their biased attributes.
The treatment principle of TCM is through bringing all unbalanced energy within human body back to balance, thus fully exploit the spontaneous healing mechanism of the body and cure all diseases by itself.
Firstly, you need to learn to understand what TCM is. Otherwise you won’t be able to tell whether a TCM physician you see is good or not.
Next, the author suggests a patient to give a TCM physician a minimum of 3 visits, to see if symptoms are improved. Many people are too impatient upon seeing a TCM doctor, and give up immediately if no explicit curative effect is perceived after the first visit; doing so would result missing of any good doctors one may come across.
In the United States, training of a Western Medicine doctor takes at least 7 years, not to mention years of internship before becoming a doctor. On the other hand, only about 4 years is required for the training of a TCM doctor, and after passing certain exams, one can open practice in many of the states, although they can only be called as ‘acupuncturist’.
There are many authentic TCM physicians who master the essence of TCM treatment principles, and are able to treat patients at their fingertips. At the same time TCM physicians do differ greatly in their skill level and area of expertise. So extra caution is needed in the selection of TCM physicians.
Simply put, we should look for doctors whose practice is based on traditional TCM knowledge. In the United States, a large number of TCM physicians were originally doctors of Western Medicine in other countries, but unable to become doctor of Western Medicine in US, and instead became TCM physician after only a few years’ of study. However, because of their familiarity with Western Medicine, they are most welcomed by the U.S. patients.
Naturally their model of treatment is still based on Western Medicine- administering antibiotics to patients with cold, and anodyne to patients with pain; almost no TCM element is involved in their practice.
One should see a TCM doctor when the illness is still at its initial stages, but not when the disease has already been confirmed through examination by Western Medicine and symptoms such as hyperthyroidism are already present, or the end phase of a disease; assistance of TCM should be sought when signs or symptoms first appear, such as insomnia, thirst, afraid of cold, fatigue, dizziness and palpitation, etc. In a word, when diseases has not developed into the stage that can be detected by Western Medicine.
Upon encountering a disease, first it is necessary to review personal habits and emotions of the patient, next to see a TCM doctor (treatment at the phase of meridian disease), and then see Western Medicine (treatment at the phase of substantive organs disease) when it is beyond the expertise of TCM. This is the proper order of treatment.
If when minor ailment first appeared, immediately administer anodyne and antibiotics, this can only lead to disease of greater severity, and eventually all medicine would fail to work; this is an extremely irresponsible way of treatment.
It is undeniable that TCM does have its limits- when organic pathologic changes has
developed in a diseases, such as size of tumor grows too large, and function of an organ
fails beyond repair (liver, kidney,heart etc). It is not that TCM can never treat diseases
at such critical stages, and records do show of such instances; but in general, as mentioned
here, TCM is by and large a science of prevention.
Here is a list of diseases that TCM treats best:
|Dizziness (all types of vertigo)||thirst||frequent urination|
|Myasthenia gravis||cough||loss of appetite|
|Allergy of unknown sources||asthma||muscle atrophy|
|Abnormal taste in mouth||indigestion||eye-blur|
|Various skin abnormalities||obesity||eye-sour|
|Coldness in hands and feet||cold illnesses||apoplexy|
|Various muscle numbness||macerate|
|Various types of pain|
|backache||low back pain|
|thigh and calf pain||limb pains|
This article is based on content from Deciphering TCM by Tongmei Pan.
It is little known and probably hard to understand that in a sense, the difficulty of becoming a physician of TCM is much greater than the Western Medicine. A doctor of the Western Medicine is usually a specialist, for example, a cardiologist will not often seen a urocystitis patient entering his door; nor will a urologist be visited by patients of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, a doctor basically sees the same type of patients repeatedly, except for… big shots who specifically deals with rare illnesses, such as the main character in the TV series ‘House’.
On the other hand, TCM physicians are not so lucky. If he sees 10 patients in a day, they may include patients suffering from pain, cardiovascular disease, urocystitis or even cancer. There are numerous diseases of the world, but patients would go see the same TCM physician there is. Therefore, a good TCM physician must carry a full arsenal within his pocket.
Why on earth would TCM boast such versatility? Because the great TCM can simplify all diseases- what appears to be hundreds of distinctive diseases may be reduced to one of several categories according to TCM standards. The author once mentioned that during the period of over a week, when nothing but a traditional Chinese medicine of “Sho-saiko-to” was administered to patients with a variety of illnesses including severe senile hematochezia, hyperthyroidism, dizziness, indigestion, heart disease, asthma, thirst, costalgia and so on.
The ‘liver’ defined in TCM, once abnormal, would likely affect lung, large intestine, spleen and stomach, and the liver channel, and cause throat and intercostal pain, etc. Therefore the problem with liver could evolve into hundreds of illnesses. On the other hand, once the culprit of liver is removed, all diseases could disappear all at once. This is the rationale behind the fact that TCM can heal hundreds of diseases.
Modern Western Medicine, although seemingly much advanced, does not recognize this principle. As a result, the tens of thousands of chemical drugs developed for hundreds of billions of dollars can do no more than controlling and stabilizing the symptoms, while unable to eradicate the diseases. For example, with a symptom of hematochezia, treatment to large intestine is administered; hyperthyroidism the thyroid, indigestion the stomach, but the source of all these diseases- liver- never receives any treatment. Eventually many patients dies of the side effect of western medicine, while attention is never given to the actual source of disease.
This article is based on content from Deciphering TCM by Tongmei Pan.