Is Chinese medicine safe?
Research in China and
worldwide has shown Chinese medicine to be helpful for many types of illness.
Because Chinese medicine differs from Western medical practice in diagnosis and
treatment methods, it is difficult to apply Western scientific standards to
For example, in Western medical practice, any two people with
a similar infection (such as
sinusitis) may be treated with a standard course of
antibiotics. In Chinese medicine, each person might receive a different
treatment for the same illness depending on the person's own qi and yin-yang
The United States accredits schools in Chinese medicine,
so a practitioner certified by an accredited school has had extensive training
in Chinese medicine.
The National Institutes of Health, through
the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and
other institutes, funds ongoing research of many complementary therapies to
determine their benefits and risks. Acupuncture has been the most studied of
Chinese medicine treatments and has become accepted as a therapy for certain
conditions in the United States. Promising results have been found for the use
of acupuncture in treating nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy,
postsurgery pain, and pregnancy. Acupuncture also may be useful for other
conditions such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual
tennis elbow, low back pain,
carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma. In general,
acupuncture is safe when done by a certified acupuncturist. The treatment can
be expensive and time-consuming.
Like conventional medicines,
Chinese herbal medicines may also cause side effects, trigger allergic
reactions, or interact with other prescription and nonprescription medicines or
herbs. Before you use any Chinese therapies, be sure to tell your health
professional about any prescription, nonprescription, or other natural
supplements you are taking.
Always tell your doctor if you are
using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an
alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be
safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an