America embraces traditional Chinese medicine

DAILY OF PEOPLE digital 2022:11:01.16:36

(Photo: Lu Ping/ China Daily)

Author: Belinda Robinson

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is increasingly being used in the United States to treat contemporary problems arising from the stress caused by political and social upheaval, including the tensions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The practice, which is more than 2,000 years old, dates back to the shamanic era of the Shang Dynasty (circa 16th-11th century BC).

TCM includes acupuncture, cupping, pain moxibustion (a form of heat therapy), herbal medicine, nutrition, tuina massage (used with modern medical techniques to treat a variety of conditions), and exercises such as tai chi and qigong, which combine movement and meditation. .

It is used to treat arthritis, back, neck and knee pain, gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, infertility and many other medical problems.

In the heart of New York’s Chinatown, patients make their way to the second floor of an unremarkable building, passing shops where seamstresses make traditional dresses like qipaos and other kung fu places.

In Suite 201, they visit Yi Qiao Wu’s busy clinic to tell the TCM teacher about their ailments and frustrations.

Dozens of accreditation certificates from universities and other institutions adorn the walls of Wu’s office. Maps are stacked in the reception area, where patients are waiting for treatment.

Wu is a humble man of few words. He has been practicing TCM in New York for 28 years. Before that, he worked in China for 15 years.

One of his patients, a man in his 50s who wished to remain anonymous, summed up the doctor’s abilities by saying Wu was talented and unmatched.

That patient had been visiting Wu for the past 15 years whenever he needed routine help with his health or boosting his immune system. He believes that Wu’s ability to listen to his patients makes the doctor very intuitive.

“I recently had severe back pain that came out of nowhere. As soon as I walked into the doctor’s office, he looked at me and said, ‘How are you?’ And before I could answer, he asked me if I had back pain,” the patient recalled.

Wu, who downplays this ability, says, “I’m just using Chinese techniques, that’s all. But I can look at your face, your gait, and your attitude to see who you are, your personality, and what’s wrong with you.”

On a busy Sunday afternoon in separate treatment rooms, Wu saw several patients with back pain, those who wanted detoxification or “adjustment,” and someone with neck pain.

His patients, among whom are Chinese and Americans, mostly come to his office on the personal recommendation of other patients. Wu does not have a digital portal or a strong social media presence.

Using acupuncture, a doctor inserts tiny, sterile single-use needles into specific areas of the patient’s body to target areas of pain or stress.

It also uses small suction cups to draw blood to areas of the skin that have stagnation or blockages that need to be removed to improve Qi, which in traditional Chinese culture is an active ingredient that is part of every living being.

For added help, massage relieves pain, and the effects and relief can be immediate.

The patient reveals that “Wu can scan you in a millisecond and know exactly what’s going on, even before you contact him. I once experienced swelling, which I never had before, but just one treatment by Dr. Wu solved my problem.” “.

In the United States, there are about 27,000 licensed Chinese medicine providers in 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or ACTCM, which was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in San Francisco.

From 2020 to 2026, the TCM market is projected to grow by a total of $46 billion in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, according to a report released in July by Quadintel, a Chicago-based company . a market research company.

national attention

Until the 1970s, most people in the United States were unaware of acupuncture, which first gained national attention in 1971, when James Reston, a reporter for The New York Times, was in China with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Reston received acupuncture in Beijing after undergoing emergency appendectomy, experiencing immediate pain relief from TCM.

After returning to the United States, he decided to write about his experience in an article in July 1971, which many believe was the first time TCM was introduced to readers in the United States.

A fundamental belief of TCM is that Qi flows through energy pathways in the body called meridians. Each meridian is connected to an organ or group of organs that govern bodily functions.

In order to stay healthy, it is important to achieve the proper flow of Qi, which is considered the perfect balance of yin and yang, opposites. Yin and yang are present throughout nature, and an imbalance of Qi (too much, too little, or blocked flow) causes disease.

In 1997, the US National Institutes of Health officially recognized acupuncture as conventional medicine. More than 20 years later, many hospitals in several states offer it for pain control.

Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the largest in the country, with more than 7,200 physicians, including general practitioners and specialists, and 13 independent joint centers, offers medical care derived from TCM.

Houman Danesh, director of comprehensive pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, believes that acupuncture offers significant benefits in the treatment of back pain, knee pain and headaches. He also finds a holistic approach to TCM beneficial.

“Treatment is a complex multimodal process. It involves science as well as the individual beliefs and goals of patients,” he emphasized.

Danesh estimates that more than 1,000 people a year receive acupuncture at Mount Sinai’s main hospital alone, and about 2,000 benefit from treatment throughout the hospital system.

“By combining Eastern and Western medicine, we can provide patients with a better treatment plan that holistically addresses them as individuals as well as their pain,” added Danesh.

beneficial effects

Extensive research shows that TCM is also useful in relieving cancer pain.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or MSKCC, a world-renowned cancer treatment and research facility, has locations throughout New York, Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester. It also supports the benefits of combining Eastern and Western medical care, especially for cancer treatment.

Jun J. Mao, chief of integrative medicine at MSKCC, who specializes in acupuncture, said the center, whose acupuncture program began more than 20 years ago, has one of the oldest integrative medicine programs in the West.

“Cancer patients often have various physical and psychological symptoms such as pain, fatigue, insomnia or neuropathy (diseases caused by damaged or malfunctioning nerves) related to their chemotherapy,” Mao said. “Many of these patients are not getting adequate relief from Western medicine.”

“Oriental medicine often comes from years of empirical clinical practice. So the treatments are often a little more holistic, really acknowledging the mind and body and the relationship and interaction. I find that Eastern medicine, especially in the context of cancer treatment and survival, provides more benefits.”

The American TCM Association, or ATCMA, a non-profit organization that promotes Chinese medicine specialties in the United States, wants to see more hospitals offering TCM.

Last year, U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, Democrat of California, introduced the Acupuncture for Seniors Act, legislation aimed at increasing access to acupuncture in the health care system, an initiative supported by the ATCMA.

In a statement, Chu emphasized, “Everyone deserves the opportunity to take control of their own health care, and that should include access to traditional Asian medicine, which has proven successful for thousands of years in the treatment of a variety of health problems.

“As Americans struggle with chronic pain and the opioid epidemic, support for acupuncture as a safe alternative has grown over the years.”

Chu wants to make acupuncture available to seniors on Medicare, but notes that licensed acupuncturists are still prohibited from being Medicare providers, even though some insurance plans already cover the cost of TCM.

While the first Chinese immigrating to the United States in the 19th century to work on the transcontinental railroad and the California Gold Rush brought TCM with them, it is now welcomed by many cultures.

Frank Griffo, an American citizen who lives in Petaluma, California with his wife and two children, has been an acupuncturist since 2005.

“Most of my patients are white or Hispanic … because this is California. We have a large Hispanic population, and our therapies are relatively inexpensive for a population that may not have insurance or access to low-cost health care,” Griffo said.

“Immigrants often say, ‘Oh, my grandma used to do that or my grandma used to give me plants for whatever, and I always hated it.’ That’s a familiar family history for the Asian community,” he added.

After completing his master’s degree in TCM at ACTCM in 2005, Griffo spent seven years studying advanced acupuncture techniques.

In 2009, Griffo Botanicals began producing its own herbal extracts, which it primarily sells to acupuncture clinics.

Used for more than 4,000 years, experts say that Chinese herbs enhance acupuncture and maintain the effects of acupuncture treatment much longer than if acupuncture were used alone.

Custom herbal blends can also be made into tincture or capsule form.

Griffo added, “I think TCM continues to grow…I see it having a place in conventional health systems.”

“Many hospitals here in California now have acupuncturists on staff. Most health insurance covers acupuncture and Medicare now covers some diagnostics. I think treatment will continue to expand,” Griffo concluded.

(Web Editor: Wu Sixuan, Zhao Jian)

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