How Safe is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine includes a number of different practices. Historically traditional Chine medicine is broken down into eight branches of treatment and these include in no special order: massage therapy (or tui na), acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese food therapy, qigong and related breathing as well as meditation exercises, t’ai chi ch’uan and other kinds of Chinese martial arts, feng shui (or the art of placement) and Chinese astrology. All of these are routinely used when it comes to TCM treatments with the exception of feng shui and Chinese astrology, which have nothing directly to do with the healthy of a person.

How safe is traditional Chine medicine anyway? This is a question that everyone should ask before they consider using any form of TCM to treat a health condition. Both acupuncture as well as its sister treatment acupressure have been found to be safe when done by qualified professionals who are trained in the field in question. Although very few research studies have been done, the few that have been conducted in regards to both of these disciplines have found that they are both safe practices when done in a controlled environment.

There have been rare cases where nerve damage, infection and pneumothorax has arisen from treatments of acupuncture but the reason for these was related to the negligence of the practitioner as opposed to an intrinsic problem with the treatment. There are cases where some patients will experience a bit of dizziness and others some bruising of the skin, and still others, a bit of both but thee are not common side effects experienced by the majority of patients.

Many governments the world over have deemed only those with extensive education be able to administer acupuncture as well as herbal treatments to patients. A finding from test studies is that problems resulting from acupuncture treatments are most often connected with practitioners who have taken the short route to learning acupuncture. In other words those who have graduated from brief training programs as opposed to those who have graduated from extended TCM education programs and learned the practice thoroughly. When looking for a qualified acupuncture to treat you always find out whether the practitioner in question has gone through extensive training or has taken the swift route to practice.

There are cases in which certain kinds of Chinese herbal medicines have been found to cause allergic reactions in patients and in very rare cases, poisoning of varying degrees has occurred. Every year in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong there are cases of acute as well as chronic poisoning due to Chinese herbal medicines that take place and sometimes these cases result in death. The deaths usually occur not because of a practitioner’s ineptness but because patients choose to self medicate themselves with herbs or else they choose to consume unprocessed kinds of herbs that are toxic. The most common case of poisoning in these parts of the world is due to the unprocessed and raw kind of fuzi or aconite. When it comes to Chinese herbal medicine, most often aconite is only made use of when it is processed aconite as the processed version has the toxicity levels “denatured by heat treatment.”