Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Philosophy
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is not a new medicine, but it is only in the last few decades that Americans have even heard of it. Our goal is to educate you so that you understand the difference between modern medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Physicians of TCM place emphasis on treating the CAUSE of the symptoms early before they develop into a disease. Doctors of modern medicine direct their efforts towards identifying and naming diseases. In TCM, the length of time needed to treat the internal imbalance (cause) depends on how long the patient has been experiencing the symptoms. Modern medicine disregards symptoms and allows them to progress until a specific disease manifests. It is then that modern medicine starts real treatment, which may be too late. Powerful drugs are prescribed to mask the symptoms instead of GETTING TO THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF THE DISEASE. Since TCM treats specific causes of the symptoms before disease manifests, the health standard is much higher.
TCM health exams are generally performed every six months. Acupuncture meridians (the body’s invisible energy channels) are used to detect small changes in the body so serious disorders can be effectively prevented. Sometimes patients incorrectly think that small symptoms are unimportant. This is because when they tell physicians of modern medicine their symptoms, many are told, “It’s all in your head”. In TCM, ALL symptoms are important. The accuracy of a diagnosis in TCM is greatly facilitated by how well PATIENTS describe their symptoms. Modern medicine relies on machines to diagnose human diseases. The problem with this approach is that no machine is more complex than a human. TCM uses the patient to diagnose disorders. Let’s use kidney stones as an example. Using machines, modern medicine cannot see stones until they are big. Even when stones are observed, the treatments using machines are usually painful and impair normal kidney function. TCM can accurately diagnose kidney stones without machines, even when they’re still the size of grains of sand. Acupuncture and herbal medicines are used to eliminate and prevent stone (or grain) reoccurrence without side effects. The evident rule here is: when future stones are still grains, they are easy to treat in a short period of time. The bigger the stones are allowed to get, the more difficult and longer the treatment will take.
Severe constipation can cause mental disturbances, headaches, and high fever. Modern medicine diagnoses these symptoms as mental disorders and will treat patients with mood altering drugs. This method seems to help, but actually makes matters worse. TCM realizes these problems are much deeper in nature. A more naturalistic and holistic approach is taken.
To reiterate, so called “diseases” are nothing more than early symptoms that were never taken care of. “Diseases” will never occur if the cause of the symptoms are treated early enough. It takes an excellent physician to find problems while they’re still minor and readily treatable.
Note that TCM DOES NOT use fancy sounding disease names like modern medicine. In actuality, naming diseases is a never-ending ordeal. TCM treats the cause of the symptoms as early as possible to prevent disease. Prevention is the best medicine. TCM is the ideal preventative medicine.
‘Good Doctor vs. Bad Doctor’
“The good Doctor treats patients’ problems BEFORE they develop into a disease. The bad Doctor does not start treating the patients until AFTER they’ve developed the disease.”
The Six Criteria of Health
Modern medicine is very detailed in it’s knowledge of human physiology and pathology. Nevertheless, the state of good health has yet to be defined. These criteria seem deceptively simple, just as Einstein’s most famous equation (e=mc2), appears very simple but is based on profound theory. It began as a complex theory, which was greatly simplified to the immortalized equation. The same holds true for these six criteria, which are as follows:
1) A Normal Appetite
Feeling hungry at mealtimes; being able to taste and smell the food; consuming the proper amount of food for one’s energy use (lifestyle).
2) Bowel Movements 2-3 times daily
Ideally, two or three times a day in the morning and afternoon and/or evening. The stools should be of firm texture, several inches in length, and they should be brown in color. The feeling of having adequately emptied the bowels is necessary.
3) Proper Urination
Five to seven times daily (less if one is working strenuously). The color should be pale yellow and an adequate amount of urine and force to expel the urine is necessary.
4) Proper Sleep Pattern
This means sleeping through the night without waking up, and feeling adequately rested upon rising in the morning.
5) The Face Feels Cool, The Four Limbs Feel Warm
The face should feel comfortably cool, not hot. The back of the hands and feet should feel cool, the palms and soles should feel warm.
6) Male/ Female Erection
This is generally not discussed among people, but it is important and included in the six criteria. Upon rising in the morning, males should have a penile erection. Females should have firm nipples.
Chinese Medicine’s Definition of Health
A simple design can illustrate Chinese medicine’s definition of health compared with Western medicine.
As seen in the illustration above, Western medicine’s definition of health does not include a symptom stage. Western medicine waits until symptoms eventually manifest into a specific disease entity before beginning treatment. Chinese medicine takes a different approach. Chinese medicine listens to all the patient’s symptom complaints and takes them very seriously. We understand the fact that all symptoms are part of the body’s natural warning system. They are all signs of disease that will eventually manifest. In Chinese medicine, all treatment is done in the symptom stage whenever possible. As long as the patient is in the symptom stage, they can be 100% corrected. Once the symptoms have finally culminated into a disease, it may then be too late for a complete recovery. This is why Western medicine can never cure any disease.
Take a child with asthma for example. Before the child is diagnosed with asthma, symptoms such as coughing, chest congestion, and difficulty breathing are observed. Yet these symptoms are all ignored or temporarily supressed with drugs. It isn’t until asthma manifests that Western medicine begins real treatment. By then it is too late. The treatments at best will only exert a palliative effect and the patient will most likely be on medications for the rest of his/her life.
Hypertension is another example. Chinese medicine sees hypertension as a symptom, not a disease. It is the body’s early warning call. When Chinese medicine diagnoses your symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a “disease”. Symptoms are the body’s way of telling you that disease will ensue if you let them progress without treating the cause.
Once a patient’s symptoms have progressed into a disease, Western medicine finds a sophisticated sounding name for it. Since every single person’s body is different, symptoms displayed by every person will be different. The myriad of different symptoms means that there can be an endless amount of “diseases”. Chinese medicine does not wait for symptoms to progress and then try to name the resulting disease. Our philosophy here is to treat the CAUSE of ALL symptoms as soon as possible in the earliest stages. Under these ideal principles, disease therefore, would be an impossibility.