Alina Sepeda L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., M.S.

Herbal Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the all-encompassing term for the combined treatment modalities or therapies such as acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, Chinese herbs and other therapies as well. TCM is an ancient and complete medical system that has been practiced for more than 2,000 years in China and Eastern Asia. Only in 1972 however, during Richard Nixon’s visit to China, was Traditional Chinese Medicine brought back to the United States. Since then, the use of TCM as an alternative to Western medicine has steadily grown because of its ability to address virtually any condition, the very safe nature of it, and how it has positive affects on the entire body including, but not limited to: increased energy levels, better sleep and digestion, stress reduction, and pain relief.

Sadly, Western medicine has come to be ruled by pharmaceutical companies, which often create medicines to treat only the symptoms of a disease. Symptom-based medicine is necessary and makes sense when debilitating pain is a symptom. With this medicine, the person can reduce their pain and continue to carry out their daily activities. But what about all the other illnesses or ailments or conditions where debilitating pain is not a symptom? Does symptom-based medicine make sense then? Not really, especially if what is actually causing the symptoms can be addressed and eradicated. This is the aim of TCM and Chinese herbs: to not only address symptoms but to also eliminate the underlying illness.
TCM diagnoses and treats the whole person and not just the symptom related to a disease or illness. A TCM practitioner will want to know your entire body’s functions from your digestion patterns to your sleep habits to your diet to your exercise habits and more. From this information, they can then assess what is causing your insomnia for example. Western medicine groups everyone with the same disease together and then treats accordingly. TCM, on the other hand, starts from the illness or manifesting symptoms and then works backwards to uncover the underlying condition that is causing that illness, because while 10 different people may have insomnia, there may be 10 different underlying reasons in each of those people for that insomnia. From there, different herbal formulas can then be prescribed to each of those people based on the root cause of their insomnia. After an elapsed amount of time, those herbs will have addressed the underlying problem and the herbs will no longer need to be taken.