Ancient Wisdom and Modern Practices

During the past 4,000 year’s history of China, one of the oldest countries on this planet, the only medicine available to the Chinese people is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). After the introduction of Western Medical science into China TCM remains the main way of treating sickness in many areas of China. People in the big and so called “modernized” cities in China many receive both methods, Western and TCM, to treat their illness. TCM now is known as Acupuncture and Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine in Western countries.


Basically, the outline of Chinese Traditional Medicine is very different from conventional Western Medicine. What the theory TCM based on are including “Five Elements theory” (causes and treatment of sickness variable depending on their characters and relationships between each other which can be classified as Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth), “Five sources of illness” (wind, cold, warm, wet and hot), “Meridian theory” (12 main channels and 6 extra channels of energy flooding in the body). The concept of TCM treatment is not only to fight for the specific cause of illness but also has to strengthen the resistance of the body at the same time. It is very similar to the concept of increasing immunity power of the body in the Western Medicine science. TCM is more like a holistic treatment that looks to the body as a whole.

On the other hand, conventional Western Medicine is based on clear calculation and data analysis as modern anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry and so on. The diagnosis and treatment are very specific to the origin or cause of sickness, and most of the time only attaching to a single element.

If we take a keen insight of TCM, we will find that it is a logical and reasonable science with real scientific spirit, just like Western Medicine. TCM is not based on an obscure theory as some scientist or medical doctors suspected. In a way of looking at the TCM and Conventional Western Medicine, they both can heal sickness efficiently but from different approaches. Yet, TCM is based on the ancient and pure philosophy and long practice experience.


The introduction of Acupuncture into the United States of America dates back in the days of the “Gold rush” of California and the Chinese workers, but it is the visit of President Nixon to China that Acupuncture was officially introduced to the US.

In 1996, the Federal Food and Drugs Administration had classified Acupuncture needles as Class II medical device, meaning that they are medical valid and proven safe device used by qualified licensed practitioners. In November 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and several agencies have concluded in a monumental national symposium, a Consensus Development Conference, stating that ” The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies”; “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions” and “There is sufficient evidence of Acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value…”. The panelists have recommended that the federal government and the insurance companies to expand the coverage of Acupuncture in order to have more people receive its healing effect.

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine as an effective treatment modality for over forty-three common encountered clinical disorders. Among these are:

Gastrointestinal Disorders: including food allergies, peptic ulcer, constipation, chronic diarrhea, indigestion, anorexia and gastritis.
Respiratory Disorders: including bronchitis, sinus, asthma, emphysema, cold and flu.
Disorders of the Bones, Muscles, Joints, and nervous System: including arthritis, migraine headaches, insomnia, dizziness, lower back, neck and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Emotional and Psychological Disorders: including depression and anxiety.
Gynecological Disorders: including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility, irregular menstruation.
Circulatory Disorders: including hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia.
Uro-genital Disorders: including stress incontinence, urinary tract infection, and sexual dysfunction.
Addictions: including alcohol, tobaccos and drugs.
Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders: including sinus, tinnitus, and hoarseness.
Supportive therapy for many other Chronic and Debilitating Disorders.

In the present time, there are estimated more than ten thousand licensed acupuncturists in the United States. And there are number of the Acupuncture schools and Certification/ Licensing Boards throughout the country. The number of acupuncturists is expected to grow steadily as more people are aware of the effectiveness and the safety of Acupuncture.

Many states have different laws and regulations regarding Acupuncture. In the State of California, the Acupuncturists are considered as “Primary Care” physicians. Most of the health plan provided by insurance company included acupuncture service.

On Sept. 30, 2012 Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed measures SB 951 and AB 1453, to include covering acupuncture under the federal health reform also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The two measures included acupuncture as an “essential health benefit” that the state can begin to offer through federally subsidized plans for individuals and families as well as unsubsidized plans.  Under this plan, patients will pay a co-pay for acupuncture services to treat nausea and chronic pain starting in 2014.