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TCM- A closer look at the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a method of complementary and alternative medicine that uses a holistic approach toward individualized patient care dating back thousands of years. Unlike conventional Western medicine which strives to treat isolated physical conditions, TCM seeks to improve healthy unity of the mind, body and spirit without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. TCM providers use several different methods to diagnose patients including observation, listening, interviewing, pulse reading, and touching. In the United States, the most common treatments used in TCM are acupuncture and herbal medicine. However, professionals may also apply moxibustion, massage, qi gong, cupping, tai chi and dietary therapy to treat clients.

The underlying objective of all these practices as presented through Chinese medicine schools is to restore

Since TCM does not involve surgical procedures or Western drugs but relies on naturally occurring remedies and treatments, most TCM professions do not require formal licensing and certification to legally practice. Yet, most states do demand that all acupuncturists obtain a state license prior to working with patients because they use needles during therapy. TCM practitioners usually work in interdisciplinary offices, alternative health clinics, private practices, professional associations, academic institutions, and holistic care facilities.

What major theories is Traditional Chinese Medicine based upon?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), TCM is largely based on the yin-yang theory, eight principles theory, and five elements theory. To start, the yin-yang theory is the belief that everything in the universe exists through a natural balance of opposing forces. In fact, nothing can exist without the presence of an opposing force; it is a completely complimentary relationship. For example, can light exist without darkness? Or can male exist without female?

Professionals of TCM apply this theory to the human body in that illness is often the result of a disruption of harmony, or yin-yang, in the body. This disturbance can occur between internal and external conditions, between the mind and the body, or even between different organs. The eight principles theory is basically an extension of yin-yang theory because it is the way that practitioners identify or diagnose disharmony in a patient. The eight principles are actually four pairs of opposing forces in the body: yin and yang, hot and cold, interior and exterior, and deficiency and excess. Uneven distribution of any of these elements can lead to illness through the body.

Lastly, the five elements theory is a TCM idea that the natural world has an interconnected relationship to the human pathology and physiology. The five elements are wood, fire, earth, water, and metal. In TCM, organs and tissues are each characterized by one of the natural elements. Just as all natural elements remain in constant change to either promote or restrain each other to create harmonious conditions, the body's physical components also work in this manner to function normally. Thus, if one element becomes disturbed, the whole body is negatively impacted.

What factors influence Traditional Chinese Medicine salaries?

Salary averages can significantly vary between professionals employed in the field of TCM. For instance, salaries and wages may differ according to occupations. Since acupuncturists are the most mainstream TCM professionals in the United States and require formal education through Chinese medicine training courses to gain licensure, they are likely to earn high salaries compared to other unregulated TCM occupations.

Geographic location can also impact salary expectations. Job availability is greater in cities with concentrated populations, but more career opportunities do not always equate to better paying jobs. Therefore, professionals that can relocate for a position can improve their chances of achieving ideal salaries. Also, employers and patients alike generally prefer TCM professionals with advanced degrees and significant work experience in the field. As a result, those that continue to show enthusiasm for continuing education by earning a master's or doctorate degree in TCM along with additional training often generate higher incomes.

Finally, certification status can also affect salaries. Consequently, showing occupational aptitude by getting nationally certified in one or more areas of specialty in TCM may lead to profitable careers.

Chinese Medicine Schools