When you hear about Traditional Chinese Medicine, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Odd stuff in jars in dark smoky rooms where equally odd old men mutter strange incantations in Chinese as they burn incense in a pot? Actually, there may actually literally be such places and maybe they do practice some form of Traditional Chinese Medicine too but in these modern times, Traditional Chinese Medicine can also mean medicine that is practiced by even Western followers of the traditional ways of treating patients as the Chinese have learned all these centuries. And for such Western practitioners, Traditional Chinese Medicine may not mean burning incense as well but rather keeping rather immaculate and clinical treatment rooms where any modern patient would feel comfortable being treated for whatever is ailing him.
One part of Traditional Chinese Medicine that many Westerners may have heard of is acupuncture which is closely related to acupressure. Both acupuncture and acupressure are based on the premise that throughout our body certain points exist at which energy might be strongest. When the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner finds some energy points to be blocked, he might prescribe a round of acupuncture (meaning, sharp sterile needles are inserted at such pressure points to release your vital energy that has been blocked there), or simply press down on the pressure points in a prescribed way so that the blocked energy finds itself flowing again through your body and the ailment is relieved. Though some Westerners may find this Traditional Chinese Medicine belief to be a bit strange, many other Western medical practitioners now advocate these two Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and may even use them in their own clinical practice.
Depending on who you talk to, Traditional Chinese Medicine may be considered either a form of alternative medicine or a form of complementary medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine may be a type of alternative medicine in that you can opt for Traditional Chinese Medicine practices rather than the conventional Western style of medical treatment thus you chose an alternative. Traditional Chinese Medicine practices become complementary medicine when you allow both a Western style of medical treatment and the Traditional Chinese Medicine practices to be used side by side at the same time when you are undergoing treatment for your ailment. It may be easier to determine the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine when you opt to have it by itself, rather than mixing it with other forms of treatment. This is because the symptoms of your ailment might get relieved under a complementary medicine type of treatment program so you might get confused as to which treatment option really worked for you.
Not surprisingly, many people of Oriental lineage are strong believers in Traditional Chinese Medicine and may eschew modern ways of treatment so that they can favor Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment options alone for themselves and their loved ones. Is this good? It depends on the ailment there are some ailments that modern ways of treatment seem to have been very effective at treating (such as cancer) for which there is little evidence that Traditional Chinese Medicine can cure. If you want to be sure of getting well, you may want to pursue Traditional Chinese Medicine only after modern scientific ways of diagnosing an illness have failed to show what you are really ill with. There is some evidence of a so-called placebo effect when complementary medicine methods are used where modern treatment practices have failed to give the desired cure.