This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
A TCM examination is thorough, but noninvasive. The practitioner will take a careful medical history, noting your body's reaction to stress and your tendencies toward illness symptoms. He will observe the color and form of your face and body, note the condition of your skin and nails, check how your breath and body odor smells, and look at your posture and demeanor. The condition of your tongue--its shape, color, and coating--also provides important data on the way your circulation and metabolism is affecting your internal organs. Your pulse will be felt at three different points on each wrist, each location corresponding to a different part of the body. Considered together, this information gives the practitioner a sense of your body's current functioning.
From this examination, the practitioner will consider the patterns of imbalance in your body and will choose the proper type of treatment for you. Depending on the training of the practitioner, treatment may consist of acupuncture, massage, change in diet, herbal remedies, qigong, or any combination of these.
Duration and frequency of treatment depends on the ailment and the person being treated. Acute problems may require one to three visits over two weeks, whereas a course of acupuncture for a chronic problem may require 12 treatments in three months to see positive results. Herbal tonics for restoring healthy internal organ function may require weeks of use, whereas herbs for colds and flu can show good results in hours. Practitioners with other skills in addition to their TCM training, such as chiropractic, homeopathy, Western physical medicine, and drug therapy, may integrate these treatments with the TCM program.