Chinese Medicine

What usually stands out in traditional Chinese medical clinics is the smell. A large portion of the clinic occupies the herbal pharmacy, which includes between several hundred to a couple of thousand various herbs. Whether practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine keep their herbs in drawers or in tightly closed mason jars, the smell of the herbs still fills the clinic. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in New York City, Miami, and other large cities often choose to keep their herbs at a different location. The smell of dry herbs, however, is a small inconvenience if it is compared with the smell of the herbs when they are prepared into medicinal teas. In traditional Chinese medicine, single herbs are rarely used. More often than not, herbs are combined into custom-tailored formulae, which include various quantities of several herbs, mixed according to individual formula’s prescribed ratio.

examining a person's hand
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acupuncture head model

What Does Chinese Medical Clinic Look Like?

When these several herbs are being cooked together, their smell becomes much more powerful. While some people enjoy their aromas, others find the odors of at least some herbs objectionable. People who live in China are more used to the smell, but residents of other countries often find it too intense to tolerate. This means that many patients would choose not to prepare their herbs in an apartment in NYC or Miami. Luckily, a number of companies, some in the United States and others in China, prepare the medicinal herbs in their factories according to specific prescriptions and deliver the ready-to-consume formulae to a Chinese medicine center. The final product usually looks like pills or granules that contain powdered herbs. This is how many practitioners of Chinese medicine in New York or Miami make their treatment methods more accessible, and a modern center for Chinese medicine typically has only one or more treatment tables located in quiet rooms, and the rest are the skills of the practitioners.     

What Are Chinese Medicine’s Practices and Tools?

Generally speaking, traditional Chinese medicine includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, massage, food therapy, gua sha, and physical exercises, but each of these general categories includes multiple subdivisions and variations; for instance, physical exercises typically include qi gong and tai chi. Chinese medicine’s tools include herbs, needles, and massage tools. Modern centers of TCM in NYC and Miami are also usually equipped with electrical stimulators and heat lamps. Electro-stimulators are connected to acupuncture needles for enhancement of specific effects, particularly those of healing or relieving pain and/or muscle spasm.

holding acupuncture needles

Is Chinese Medicine Effective?

Traditional Chinese medicine is effective in the treatment of many conditions. On one hand, its effectiveness can be greater in the treatment of one condition than in another. But on the other hand, research has shown that various modalities of traditional Chinese medicine can be even more effective as part of integrative medicine when it is used as a complementary method, rather than an alternative approach. More specifically, for example, acupuncture proved to be effective in the treatment of pain and nausea in the intensive care unit. The reality is that from the traditional Chinese medical perspective, the same pain from the western medical standpoint can be caused by a few different factors, and finding the correct diagnosis for each individual patient can significantly change the treatment outcome. Whether patients experience pain or nausea, often they are only symptoms. Something causes these symptoms, and that something needs to be identified and corrected. Once that is done, the pain or nausea should disappear automatically after their cause has disappeared. At the same time, nowadays, traditional Chinese medicine in New York and Miami, as well as other areas of the world, including China, is frequently used as a part of an integrative approach, and its part can be limited by specific symptoms, while the cause will be addressed by a different modality, possibly outside of traditional Chinese medicine’s scope. That is the role that TCM in NYC or Miami plays most often. So while traditional Chinese medicine is effective, but it is more art than science, and treatments’ success rates depend more on practitioners’ skills and knowledge than Chinese medicine itself, which is a method that needs to be learned.

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine is a consolidation of various medical methods and techniques developed and honed over the period of at least 2,000 years. (The oldest Chinese texts describe such traditional Chinese methods as acupuncture in a way that it had already been well-known to the readers at the time.) Curiously enough, instead of merely listing the methods that successfully treated their corresponding conditions, ancient Chinese physicians identified the patterns of disease development and developed methodology of treatment selection, thus designing a complete medical system. In other words, traditional Chinese medicine can treat disorders of the digestive system (colitis, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, etc.), endocrine system (diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc.), immune system (rheumatoid disorders, etc.), muscular system (muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, etc.), nervous system (headaches, multiple sclerosis, etc.), urinary system (UTIs, pelvic pain, etc.), reproductive system (infertility, endometriosis, erectile dysfunction, etc.), respiratory system (asthma, bronchitis, etc.), and skeletal system (osteoarthritis, neck and lower back pain, etc.). Some conditions have higher success rates than others, but at the same time by combining different modalities—western and eastern—success rates can still be improved. Traditional Chinese medicine has been tested and polished for many years, during which its validity and reliability have increased. Within the last hundred or so years, traditional Chinese medicine has spread all over the world and has been going through thousands of scientific experiments, many of which have established the system’s efficacy.

meditating woman
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woman in a cupping therapy session

What Does Chinese Medicine Treat?

Due to traditional Chinese medicine’s comprehensive design, it was developed into a complete medical system, and therefore, at least in theory, it treats all sorts of disorders and maladies. While in school, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine study conditions and treatments according to physiological systems. They include the respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, reproductive, urinary, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Additional courses focus on emergency medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, internal, and sports medicine. In other words, it can treat everything.