Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient and still very vital holistic system of health and healing, based on the notion of harmony and balance, and employing the ideas of moderation and prevention. TCM is a complete system of health care with its own unique theories of anatomy, health, and treatment. It emphasizes diet and prevention and using acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and exercise; and focuses on stimulating the body's natural curative powers. In situations of severe trauma, TCM should not be substituted for contemporary modern trauma practice; it is most useful as an adjunct to the healing regimen. TCM is not the first line of treatment for bacterial infection or cancer, but may usefully complement contemporary medical treatment for those conditions. In theory and practice, traditional Chinese medicine is completely different from Western medicine, both in terms of considering how the human body works and how illness occurs and should be treated. As a part of a continuing system that has been in use for thousands of years, it is still employed to treat over one-quarter of the world's population. Since the earliest Chinese physicians were also philosophers, their ways of viewing the world and human beings role in it affected their medicine. In TCM, both philosophically and medically, moderation in all things is advocated, as is living in harmony with nature and striving for balance in all things. Prevention is also a key goal of Chinese medicine, and much emphasis is placed on educating the patient to live responsibly. The Chinese physician also is more of an advisor than an authority; he or she believes in treating every patient differently, based on the notion that one does not treat the disease or condition but rather the individual patient. Thus two people with the same complaint may be treated entirely differently, if their constitutions and life situations are dissimilar. Disease is also considered to be evidence of the failure of preventive health care and a falling out of balance or harmony. There is some confusion in the West about the fundamental philosophical principles upon which traditional Chinese medicine is based-such as the concept of yin and yang, the notion of five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water), and the concept of chi-yet each can be explained in a way that is understandable to Westerners.