This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
The various techniques used in TCM can address a wide range of illnesses. Acupuncture has been shown to be particularly effective in relieving chronic pain--caused by such ailments as arthritis, sinusitis, headache, PMS, and back pain--and has aided postoperative pain as well. It can also ease nausea and other discomforts associated with cancer treatment. In addition, acupuncture has been beneficial in rehabilitation for certain neurologic problems such as stroke. It is also used in treating addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.
Chinese herbal remedies are often used to treat acute ailments such as the flu and the common cold, and are also recommended for chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Chinese massage techniques, such as anmo and tuina, utilize the same points as acupuncture to unblock qi and ease the stress and tension that often accompanies illness. Anmo involves pressing and rubbing motions; tuina is a thrusting and rolling type of massage.
Many research studies of the various types of TCM are currently ongoing. A 1999 study published in Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that acupuncture eased pain following breast cancer surgery. Another recent study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that practicing tai chi helped improve mobility for people with multiple sclerosis.
A 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Chinese herbal medicine helped improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A group of 116 patients were divided into groups: One group was given an individualized Chinese herbal treatment, one group was given a standard Chinese herbal formulation, and the third group was given a placebo, or dummy pill. The two groups who received the herbs experienced significant improvement in their symptoms (the individualized group maintained the improvement longer), as compared to the placebo group.
Preliminary studies have also been conducted on Chinese herbal treatments and skin conditions. A study published in Lancet found that 31 patients with atopic dermatitis appeared to be helped by Chinese herbal therapy. A review of clinical trials in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found two trials that showed Chinese herbs as a more effective treatment than a placebo for treating eczema. More study is needed in this area, however, because some adverse reactions have been reported to the treatment.