Traditional Chinese Medicine: All the Rage in the U.S.

Woman having acupoints massaged.

Traditional Chinese medicine has traveled a great deal to reach the current recognition and status it has in the U.S. (Image: KaiMiano via Pixabay)

Traditional Chinese medicine has traveled a great deal to reach the current recognition and status it has in the U.S. Acupuncture, a part of traditional Chinese medicine, was given legal recognition as a medical practice only in 1973 by the state of Nevada, even though it has been in practice in the country well before the 1970s.

Although acupuncture has been legalized by the rest of the states today, Chinese herbal medicine, for the most part, still remains restricted to the “dietary/herbal supplement” category. On the other hand, there is an increasing demand for both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines in the U.S. that has expanded well beyond its Chinatowns.

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Acupuncture leads the way

Acupuncture is a holistic healing method that hails from a 3,000-year-old traditional Chinese medicine practice. The method involves stimulating certain points on the body by inserting needles to help enhance the Qi (energy) of one’s body. Stimulating specific points even helps alleviate certain chronic ailments.

Studies have since verified adenosine’s positive effects of lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Studies have since verified adenosine’s positive effects on lowering blood pressure and heart rate. (Image: hamiltonpaviana via Pixabay)

Earlier, acupuncturists in the U.S. only had Chinese patients visiting them to treat medical disorders. However, today, the proportion of non-Chinese patients is equal if not more!

Additionally, even if health insurance companies do not provide full coverage for acupuncture, reports suggest that people in the U.S. are more likely to pay on their own for alternative healthcare approaches such as acupuncture. Research also suggests that over 14 million people in the U.S. alone have used or tried acupuncture.

The overall patient feedback in the study conducted was that the patients were happy with the results of acupuncture, as it provided a “low-risk method of treating or controlling chronic conditions” and promotes general healthy well-being. Another reason why acupuncture has become popular in the U.S. is its versatility and flexibility.

It can help prevent or alleviate many common pains, such as headaches or migraines, insomnia, body ache and back pains, depression, mental disorders, and several blood flow-related issues. Patients can also use it as a complementary treatment with conventional remedies for chronic diseases and disorders.

The growing demand for traditional Chinese medicine

Today, the WHO recognizes traditional Chinese medicine as a prominent factor in primary healthcare across nations. Significant studies and research have also been successfully conducted into discovering the actual scientific effect Chinese medicine has on medical conditions, even to the extent of finding its relevance in treating the Ebola virus.

However, Chinese medicine has a long way to go to achieve the status acupuncture has in the U.S. There is still a lot of skepticism regarding its scientific effectiveness, and many doctors lack knowledge of the medicine and tend to steer patients toward conventional drugs and treatments.

There is still a lot of skepticism regarding traditional Chinese medicine's scientific effectiveness.
There is still a lot of skepticism regarding its scientific effectiveness, and many doctors lack knowledge of the medicine and tend to steer patients toward conventional drugs and treatments. (Image: mac8739 via Pixabay)

Having said that, there is a growing demand for herbal medicines in the U.S., as, just like acupuncture, they offer complementary solutions to provide better and successful results to aid chronic disorders. With new quantitative and quality-oriented research being conducted across the world to determine the effectiveness of herbs, there is a rise in public awareness regarding the treatment and use of traditional Chinese herbs and medicines.

Toward the future

The advent of the popularity of Chinese medicine is not restricted to acupuncture and herbal medicine. It has extended to healthy lifestyle practices such as qigong. Back in 1993, “nobody knew of qigong,” and today there are classes full of students and workshops and conventions on qigong taking place across the country.

This relates well to why traditional Chinese medicine is picking up in the U.S. People in the U.S. are looking for “longevity, stress reduction, and improved health through mind-body practices.” They are looking for fewer surgeries and artificial chemicals in their bodies, and more of a holistic approach, well-being, and simplicity.

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