TCM - All Information

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TCM - All Information
TCM - All Information
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TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM is primarily based on the philosophical concept of the Yin-Yang theory. This teaching originated from a natural philosophy and describes the phenomena of nature as well as their relationships to one another and to the universe. It is used to explain the perpetual process of natural change. Although yin and yang represent polar opposites in TCM, they are interdependent, complement and control one another and can even transform into one another.

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  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • What is the background?
  • Chinese phytotherapy
  • What areas of application are there?
  • What are the limits of the method?
  • Is there any scientific evidence?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

What is the background?

In TCM, health means a dynamic balance between Yin and Yang. The aim of TCM is to recognize and compensate for any imbalance that has arisen.

By means of specially developed diagnostic options such as tongue and pulse diagnosis, on the one hand, disease processes are to be determined and counteracted before the onset of the disease, and on the other hand, existing diseases are to be treated using the following methods:

  • Acupuncture,
  • Chinese phytotherapy, Chinese herbal therapy
  • Nutrition after the five phases of change,
  • Massage techniques (Tuina, acupressure),
  • Movement exercises (Tai Chi & Qi Gong,).

The oldest collection of recipes is from the year 168 BC. In the first century AD, the book Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic (Huangdi neijing) was written, which mainly deals with acupuncture therapeutically. The first correct collection of recipes is the treatise on cold-induced diseases (Shanghan zabinglun, approx. 200 AD).

Since the founding of the Austrian Society for Acupuncture (ÖGA) in 1954 and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Acupuncture (1972-2005) by Johannes Bischko, the integration of traditional therapies into Western medicine has been a major concern.

Chinese phytotherapy

Herbal medicine is an important part of TCM. Chinese phytotherapy (herbal medicine) offers a comprehensive therapeutic concept to treat imbalances between yin and yang, manifest diseases and their consequences. On the one hand, this should enable the body to find a way of eliminating the pathogenic factors. On the other hand, the body should be strengthened and thus the susceptibility to new diseases should be reduced as a preventive measure.

In Austria around 400 different Chinese medicine drugs are currently offered in specially trained pharmacies. Around 90 percent are of vegetable origin, the rest consists of mineral and animal substances. Each medicine is classified according to its temperature behavior (hot and warm; neutral; cooling and cold) and taste (hot, sweet, neutral, sour, bitter, salty).

Chinese drug therapy prescriptions almost never consist of individual drugs, but are a complex mixture of different drugs according to the multi-target principle.

Chinese medicinal therapy is only available in pharmacies in Austria. Austrian pharmacies specializing in TCM are supplied with Chinese medicines by wholesalers who buy from reliable, state-controlled companies in the People's Republic of China and check problem-prone batches for pesticides (including herbicides), aflatoxins, microbial contamination and heavy metal content.

Note We strongly advise against buying cheap drugs from the Internet, as these are often neither checked for identity nor for purity. For more information, see Medicines from the Internet.

What areas of application are there?

According to its proponents, TCM can be used primarily in the following areas:

  • Disease prophylaxis;
  • General complaints : eg tiredness, exhaustion, inner restlessness;
  • Ear, nose and throat medicine (ENT) : infectious diseases;
  • Pulmonology: allergies, bronchial asthma, recurrent bronchitis;
  • Dermatology: neurodermatitis, itching, hair loss;
  • Gastroenterology: eg loss of appetite, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease), chronic constipation;
  • Urology: recurring urinary tract infections, chronic inflammation of the prostate;
  • Neurology: e.g. sleep disorders, neuralgia, migraines, headaches;
  • Gynecology: menstrual problems, desire to have children, infertility, endometriosis, recurrent fungal infections
  • Oncology: for cancer, in addition to strengthening and regeneration after chemotherapy and radiation.

Note Acupuncture is also used for smoking cessation and is intended to reduce the desire for a cigarette or withdrawal symptoms. However, there is no indication that acupuncture will be successful in giving up smoking in the long term. Acupuncture might help a little in the short term. Overall, however, acupuncture is clearly inferior to nicotine replacement therapy. You can find detailed information at www.medizin-transparent.at

What are the limits of the method?

Like any effective medicine, Chinese medicines can cause interactions and side effects. Interactions between Chinese medicinal products and between Chinese medicinal products and conventional medication must be taken into account. For this it is necessary that the attending physician is informed about the entire medication of his / her patients.

Caution is advised, for example, with medicines that “move blood”, such as sage or Chinese lovage, because these can interact with blood-thinning medicines and increase their effects. In addition, these Chinese medicines should be discontinued three to four days before planned operations. For long-term therapy, liver values ​​should be checked every three months. Caution is also advised in breast cancer patients because some drugs have hormonal effects.

Is there any scientific evidence?

Traditional Chinese medicine is primarily empirical medicine. Due to the highly individualized therapies in TCM, western research approaches such as clinical studies are difficult to apply to TCM.

Chinese phytotherapy (herbal medicine) is currently being intensively researched. Especially in times when conventional medicine is repeatedly reaching its limits (e.g. due to antibiotic resistance), the pharmaceutical industry has recognized the potential of drugs. An example is artemisinin for the treatment of malaria, which is used on a large scale and for which the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded for research.

Whom can I ask?

The Austrian Medical Association has created a diploma for Chinese diagnostics and drug therapy. Only doctors and pharmacists are admitted to the training in Austria. The Austrian Society for Acupuncture, the Vienna School of TCM, the Austrian Society for Controlled Acupuncture and TCM and the Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Complementary Medicine at Danube University Krems offer a list of TCM doctors.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The costs for complementary medical treatments are usually not covered by the health insurance carriers and in a few cases with the approval of the chief physician. In the spa and rehabilitation sector, at least partial cost coverage is provided for individual services. In any case, it is worth checking with the responsible health insurance company.

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