Suffering through the symptoms and outcomes of multiple or complex conditions is one of the most frustrating experiences an individual can face. According to numerous studies, one in four adults living in developed countries have at least two chronic conditions, and more than half have been diagnosed with three or more. In addition to dealing with the symptoms of their illnesses, the patient is also forced to establish relationships with multiple physicians, each of whom specializes in a particular organ or body system and each of whom is likely to have their own treatment protocols. With every doctor ordering their own diagnostic tests and prescribing medications based on their own diagnosis, it is easy for patients to become medically exhausted, overscheduled and overwhelmed. Chinese Medicine offers an alternative, complementary path.
Chinese Medicine’s Holistic View of Disease
Chinese medicine’s view of health is dependent upon the body remaining in balance. The philosophy is relatively simple: everything within the body is interconnected. Mind Body and Spirit is rooted in Qi, or energy, which is in a state of constant change and flow. When the body’s systems and organs are in harmony, it is healthy, but disruption in the flow’s dynamic leads to illness. Where Western medicine diagnoses and treats illness based on its symptoms and often treats each disease separately, practitioners of Chinese medicine view what is often seen as a disparate array of seemingly unrelated symptoms, filtering them and trying to tease out core imbalances in the body.
When a patient with multiple complex or chronic conditions seeks help from a practitioner of Chinese medicine, they will experience a different way of looking at how the body works and why conditions appear. The diagnostic process that is applied to what Chinese medicine views as “knotty diseases” will involve looking at organ systems, channel systems, vital substances and other aspects of their health to track what is and is not happening in their body. The goal is to identify the imbalance responsible for their multiple symptoms rather than looking at one symptom at a time. This more macro approach can lead to treatments that offer relief of multiple conditions and systems at once.
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine
In the practice of Chinese medicine, all diseases come from yin-yang imbalances of the Energetic Functional Entities. These entities are the Qi (energy), the Xue (blood), Jinye (body fluids), Jing (essence) and Shen. After assessing the substances in the body, we then look at the internal organs and channels and their functionality. We assess the proper manufacture of substances, flow of substance and the transformation of these substances into useable sustenance. Diagnosing your illness is based on the larger patterns of disharmony in the body rather than strictly focusing on the individual symptoms that you are experiencing. We also look constitutionally to see if the overall patterns are coming from a body that is robust and experiencing blockage or a body that may be more depleted and need more care and nourishment to rebuild the lack of vitality.
Through this different approach, the practitioner of Chinese medicine is able to dig more deeply into the various symptoms that a patient is experiencing, determining how the various channels of energy in the body are being impacted by the patterns and then tailoring an appropriate treatment. This may include herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping, or other modalities.
Treating Complex Conditions at Empirical Point Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine has proven to be remarkably effective in the treatment of complex conditions and multiple chronic conditions. Sharon Sherman has been licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental Medicine since 2001, and holds the highest credential available from both the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Her knowledge and understanding of complex conditions in conjunction with the medicine’s effectiveness assures patients of the highest level of care and professionalism.