Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) is usually regarded as an alternative treatment. Patients will seek help from TCM doctors only when they can not be treated by western medicine.
Lately, a growing number of western doctors have started to learn and use TCM to complement their western medical knowledge to treat their patients.
Acupuncture is a major component of TCM to fight pain and illness. It has been practiced in China since 2500 BC. It involves inserting thin, metallic disposable needles into certain points of the body. These needles are then turned by hand or stimulated by machine. The aim is to balance of qi or "life force" in Chinese. TCM believes that qi flows in the body to keep us going, and it must be kept in good balance.
Acupuncture can have any one of the six effects:
– Relieve pain through raising the level of endorphins, a painkiller released by the body;
– Give a feeling of sedation;
– Adjust the body's homeostasis or the balance opposing systems such as a respiration rate and body temperature;
– Enhance immune system;
– Provide an anti-inflammatory result;
– Furnish an anti-allergy effect.
Acupuncture is beneficial in treating muscular pains, joint pains, nerve pains, migraines, insomnia and anxiety. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists several conditions which can be evaluated by acupuncture, including rhinitis, headaches and facial palsy.
However, there are skeptics, too.
For instance, a German study in 2005 suggested that putting needles into the body causes pain relief, regardless of where they are placed because of the place effect – the patients believed they would be get better. This is of course not true from the perspective of TCM because the position of placing the needles is very important in treating illness.
Success stories do exist as well.
Here is a case study of a stroke patient, aged 71, who was treated with acupuncture while taking the western medicine.
A stroke left the right side of Steve's body paralyzed. He could not turn over in bed. When he started acupuncture treatment with a TCM physician, he could not even lift his legs.
After 8 sessions, he could turn over in bed. And after 20 sessions, he was able to walk with the aid of a stick. Now, he can walk slowly for a whole hour.
His speech has become clear, too and he can swallow now. He can eat harder foods including apples.
He is taking anti-coagulants as well as drugs to manage his high cholesterol levels and hypertension. Both of these are risk factors for heart disease. He is also doing 2 sessions of physiotherapy a week.
Even a few sessions before the 40 sessions prescribed for stroke patients, he has already begun to return to normal life.