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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of primary healthcare which has a history spanning thousands of years. Practices include acupuncture, herbal medicine, remedial massage (anmo tui na), breathing exercises (qi gong) and dietary advice. It is mainly known in Australia for acupuncture and herbal medicine. The main concern of modern TCM is that, to restore good health , the TMC doctor must restore the individual's internal harmony, balance and order. It has an wholistic approach which emphasises prevention as much as it does treatment. A healthy person has an abundance of smooth flowing qi (chee). External or internal pathogens, environment, stress, lifestyle factors, poor diet, overwork, or weather can lead to qi becoming interrupted, blocked, depleted or excessive. This becomes evident to a TCM doctor through the identifiable signs and symptoms of bodily dysfunction. The TCM doctor will make a diagnosis by carefully examining the presenting condition, as well as the medical and family history, constitution, pulse, and tongue.
4 diagnostic tools used by the TCM doctor:
• Observation (the patient is observed for demeanour, spirit, and pallor. The tongue is studied to examine the functioning of the internal organs.);
• Listening-smelling (the TCM doctor listens to the patients voice, breath, cough etc. S/he may ask about unusual odours associated with bad breath, body odour, urine, stool and so on);
• Interrogation (questioning to elicit information about the health complaint including history, duration and triggering factors);
• Palpation (pulse is palpated for quality, rhythm and rate which is used diagnostically for organ, blood, or qi function and health. Areas of complaint on the body may be palpated such as pain in the abdomen or an injured limb.).
The clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan are based on the TCM theoretical framework and are used to identify underlying symptom patterns that have led to the body dysfunction. Treatment is based on rectifying the main complaint as well as addressing the underlying cause. Each patient will result in a different diagnostic pattern, meaning that treatment plans are highly individualised. Modern TCM is also influenced by contemporary Western medical approach to health care in areas such as clinical decision making and patient management strategies. These include infection control and known drug/herb interactions.
TCM is used to treat many internal and external complaints from the common cold to palliative care. These include, but are not limited to: asthma, digestive complaints, pain management, women’s health, depression, anxiety, mood swings, stress, fe/male fertility aid and general well-being.