acupuncturist treating patient

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of mind and body practices that originated in China thousands of years ago to treat various ailments.

Unlike Western medicine, TCM uses a more holistic approach to treat disease. In other words, TCM focuses on keeping your body in balance and harmony as a means to good health.

Although it is commonly practiced in China, in the United States people usually regard TCM as alternative medicine.

A Different Approach

TCM operates on the idea that the body’s organs mutually support each other. Consequently, our organs must be in harmony in order to achieve wellness.

Much of TCM deals with the body’s life energy or qi. The theory is that qi flows throughout your body, and illnesses and other health problems arise when the natural flow of qi is impeded. Therefore, TCM aims for balance by restoring the flow of qi.


Among the different therapies used in TCM, Acupuncture is the best known and most popular. This method involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific areas of the body. People often turn to acupuncture to manage chronic pain in a more natural way than Western medicine, which typically involves medications that have difficult side effects. The goal is to release the body’s natural painkillers to treat things like back pain, neck pain, arthritis and migraine headaches.

Additional TCM Therapies

Besides acupuncture, other TCM therapies include cupping, herbal medicine and laser therapy.

  • Cupping: placing heated cups on the skin to create suction to eliminate toxins and pathogens from the body. In recent years, it has gotten publicity from athletes using it to treat sports injuries and muscle pain.
  • Herbal Medicine: taking herbal formulas in the form of teas, pills or powders, which can be mixed with water to help with lowering cholesterol, ease respiratory problems such as bronchitis or to control inflammation.
  • Laser Therapy: using laser light to stimulate cell growth and tissue repair. It works by increasing blood flow and collagen to damaged areas to rebuild muscle or nerve tissue.

In addition to some of the conditions mentioned above, TCM also addresses things like allergies, depression, skin conditions, fertility and even insomnia.

Nowadays, TCM is commonly prescribed as a complement to instead of a replacement for Western medicine. For this reason, it  is important to find a qualified practitioner and to work with your doctor to see how a TCM regimen might benefit you.