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Should We Use Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Wong Shu Lee  


  July 13, 2021

When it comes to topics related to healthcare and wellness, the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine is always a debatable topic. 


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is thousands of years old and has changed little over the centuries. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body.  Any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. This imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by an alteration in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the Qi. These are called yin and yang. 


Ancient Chinese believed that humans are microcosms of the larger surrounding universe, and are interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The balance between health and disease is a key concept. TCM treatment seeks to restore this balance through treatment specific to the individual. 


All these may seem mysterious and lack of scientific basis, however, like it or not, people rely on traditional medicines for health care needs before the existence of modern medicine in the 18th century. Asian countries adopted the concept of scientific medicine a lot more later. In fact, till today, there are still folks that are skeptical about scientific medicine. 


Some folks would think that TCM is better than modern medicine because modern medicine usually comes with side effects. However, what many people don’t know is some herbal products have been contaminated with toxic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, and microorganisms and may have serious side effects. Manufacturing errors, in which one herb is mistakenly replaced with another, also have resulted in serious complications. 


But again, some TCM methods and products are really helpful and effective. So, here are some reminders if you’re considering TCM: 


  • If you’re considering TCM, be sure to discuss this with your health care providers. Don’t use TCM to replace or delay seeking conventional care. 
  • If you have a health condition, talk with your health care provider before using TCM herbal products. 
  • If you are pregnant or nursing or are thinking of using TCM to treat a child, be especially sure to consult your (or the child’s) health care provider. 
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.


Most importantly, we must believe in doctor’s advice, not what we see on social media. Besides, please look for certified TCM practitioners and only consume certified TCM products when you’re considering TCM for your health care needs. 


In a nutshell, TCM should not be used as a replacement for conventional or allopathic treatment, especially for serious conditions, but it may be beneficial when used as a complementary therapy. Since some TCM herbal medicines can interfere or be toxic when combined with Western medicines, you should inform your doctor if you are using TCM. 


Stay wise and stay healthy! 


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