What is Acupuncture TCM?
Acupuncture is a part of a complete system of healing, usually referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). TCM has several distinct branches and has stood the test of time in that it has been practised for several thousands of years in China, its country of origin. In its present, classical form TCM has existed for at least 2000 years, with its earliest texts dating to the first centuries BC.
There are no specifics such as are often used in modern medicine for the labelling of symptoms. Acupuncture does not confine itself to treating only named diseases, rather it treats sick people by revealing the source of the trouble by using its own diagnostic methods and setting about its removal. The patient is always viewed as a unique individual. He or she is regarded as a whole and integrated personality with all that that implies.
Treatment subsequently is always geared to the specific requirements of each individual. This means that three patients complaining of what might at first sight appear to be the same symptoms may each receive entirely different treatment and each make a satisfactory and sound recovery.
TCM is a complete system of medicine, capable of diagnosing and treating physical, psychological and emotional complaints of all kinds. It does not treat labels or named conditions, but individuals as a whole. Just because a condition is not listed here or elsewhere does not mean that acupuncture treatment would not be helpful. The lists aim to offer guidance on when it might be useful – and safe – to refer a patient to acupuncture treatment, following the principle of:
Do no harm – help, if at all possible.
Primary candidates for referral:
- When test results are inconclusive, no cause can be found but symptoms persist.
- When treatment options are poor or there are none.
- When the patient wishes to explore non-chemical and/or non-invasive treatment options.
- Alongside Western medical treatment for serious conditions, such as cancer.
- When nothing further can be done for the patient within Western Medicine.
See also the adjacent tab for a list of some Western named conditions, which have recently been reviewed for effectiveness of acupuncture treatment.
Cancer and other serious health problems
Acupuncture can greatly improve a patient’s health, wellbeing and mood when faced with serious and life-threatening conditions, and it can be useful to alleviate side-effects of Western medicine treatment, such as chemotherapy. Acupuncture, however, should never be used as a first line of treatment in these situations, but only ever as an adjunct therapy. This is very important for the patient to understand: Acupuncture cannot effectively treat cancer.
Acupuncture treatment alongside Western medical treatment
Acupuncture is perfectly safe and beneficial to be used alongside Western medical treatment. Please note that patients will never be given advice regarding their prescriptions or Western medical treatment options, for or against, that is a matter for their GP or consultant to discuss.
Research into acupuncture as a medical treatment has grown exponentially in the past 20 years, increasing at twice the rate of research into conventional biomedicine. A wide-variety of clinical areas have been studied, including pain, cancer, pregnancy, stroke, mood disorders, sleep disorders and inflammation, to name a few.
Recently the Acupuncture Evidence Project* reviewed the effectiveness of acupuncture for 122 treatments over 14 clinical areas. They found evidence of effect for 117 conditions “with stronger evidence for some conditions than others”:
|Allergic Rhinitis||Cancer pain||Plantar heel pain|
|Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting||Cancer-related fatigue||Post-stroke insomnia|
|Chronic low back pain||Constipation||Post-stroke shoulder pain|
|Headache (tension type and chronic)||Craniotomy anaesthesia||Post-stroke spasticity|
|Knee osteoarthritis||Depression (with antidepressants)||Post-traumatic stress disorder|
|Migraine prophylaxis||Dry eye||Prostatitis pain / chronic pelvic pain|
|Postoperative nausea & vomiting||Hypertension (with medication)||Recovery after colorectal cancer resection|
|Postoperative pain||Insomnia||Restless leg syndrome|
|Acute low back pain||Irritable bowel syndrome||Schizophrenia (with antipsychotics)|
|Acute stroke||Labour pain||Sciatica|
|Ambulatory anaesthesia||Lateral elbow pain||Shoulder impingement syndrome, early stage (with exercise)|
|Anxiety||Menopausal hot flushes||Shoulder pain|
|Aromatose-inhibitor-induced arthralgia||Neck pain||Smoking cessation (up to 3 months)|
|Asthma in adults||Obesity||Stroke rehabilitation|
|Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy||Perimenopausal & postmenopausal insomnia||Temporomandibular pain.|
* McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au