4 Ways Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine Compliment Each Other

For those looking for a 100 percent natural way to address health conditions at the body–mind–spirit level, you can join the club at the platinum level by using the complete system of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and its Five Element energetic framework. If you want to join at a different level, there are effective ways you can mix and match this ancient self-healing system with Western medicine.

While a lot of people in the U.S. are familiar with acupuncture, it’s only one treatment option of TCM. So, here are a few things you need to know when looking at integrating TCM and Western medicine. Each has its own principles and theories; each has its own strengths. For example, TCM is a by-product of a deep spiritual practice of ancient Qigong masters. It’s not a man-made system. Western medicine developed primarily through scientific experimentation and observation. TCM is an energy-based medicine that looks at the body, mind and spirit from the perspective of Oneness or inseparability. Western medicine is increasingly a technology-based system of analysis, differentiation and separation. It focuses on various parts of the body. You could say that TCM has a specialty in the body’s “software or energy system,” while Western medicine has a specialty in its “hardware or physical systems.”

One way TCM and Western medicine can work well together is when a prescription medication causes side effects and a second one is prescribed to take care of these. For instance, strong pain medications often cause opiod constipation. Today, new drugs claim to eliminate the constipation caused by the first drug. Unfortunately, the second drug produces its own set of side effects. Sometimes, even a third medication might be proposed. TCM is very effective at understanding the root cause of side effects caused by Western medications and alleviating them so the body can come back into balance and the patient can continue treatment.

Many people today are familiar with acupuncture for pain; however, its efficacy goes far beyond pain since it allows the body’s energy system to rebalance itself. This, in turn, sparks the body’s ability to self-heal. TCM and Western medicine can team up a second way when it comes to conditions like hay fever, which TCM doesn’t consider an illness or disease. In this medical system, hay fever results when the body isn’t strong enough to smoothly navigate Nature’s seasonal energy transition—be it spring or fall, or both. Here, TCM works well with Western medications to diminish and eventually heal hay fever symptoms completely by addressing the root cause. When hay fever season arrives, with only a few acupuncture treatments, many individuals can go through the spring or fall season without any medication at all.

A third way TCM and Western medicine complement each other is in the area of an adjuvant cancer therapy called tamoxifen—prescribed as a five-year, follow-up treatment for breast cancer. Unfortunately, tamoxifen’s side effects—night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, among others— are so severe that 50 percent of women decide to stop therapy. This step alone can cause great fear in a woman who has to abandon treatment. This kind of deep fear can also prompt new cancer to occur. TCM can help resolve this dilemma by relieving tamoxifen’s side effects with natural treatments like acupuncture, acupressure, Qigong movements, herbal therapy and lifestyle changes. The result? Treatment can be completed.

A fourth way TCM and Western medicine work well together is in the area of infertility. Couples try so hard to become pregnant and spend a lot of time and money on IVF treatments. When they don’t work, it means the woman’s body is not functioning well and her organ systems aren’t working in harmony. Undergoing IVF treatments only creates an added burden for her. If the couple takes a break for a few months, gives their bodies time to rest, rebalance themselves and work with TCM to improve the woman’s overall health, couples often see tremendous benefits and real success.

In China, it’s common practice for traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine to be practiced side by side. Hospital and clinics know how, when, where and why they can be integrated for optimum patient results. This is especially true for cancer treatment, where individuals are prescribed certain herbal formulas to alleviate the serious side effects of chemotherapy and radiation so cancer treatment can be completed.


Nan Lu, OMD, Grand Master of Wu Ming Qigong, is the country’s foremost spiritual leader, practitioner and teacher of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) because of his unique dedication to the preservation of ancient lineage knowledge not found in textbooks. He is the founder of New York City’s Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, which is the leading educational organization in the U.S. for TCM. For more than two decades, the Foundation has inspired tens of thousands of individuals with health and wellness programs that have allowed them to discover their self-healing abilities. Master Lu is also founder of the long-running educational forum Building Bridges of Integration for Traditional Chinese Medicine for integrative healthcare professionals. His latest book Digesting the Universe: A Revolutionary Framework for Healthy Metabolism Function is out now. Learn more about the book and Master Lu on his websites, http://www.tcmworld.org and www.taoofhealing.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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