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Who Should Use It & Who Should Avoid TCM?

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Is It Safe?

Experts believe it’s safe, if you go to someone who knows what they’re doing. This is especially true of acupuncture, tai chi, cupping, and moxibustion.

Herbs can be a little trickier. They don’t go through the same FDA process as drugs. That means there’s not as much research on them, and it can be hard to know exactly what’s in them. Plus, herbs can have side effects or impact other medicine you’re taking. Again, it’s important to go to someone who really understands their practice. And always check with your doctor first.

Does It Work?

TCM is an approach that covers a lot of ground, and results vary. The practices haven’t been studied in the same way as Western medicine. More research has been done on herbs and acupuncture than other treatments. But studies show a lot of promise:

Acupuncture is commonly accepted as a treatment for a number of conditions, including pain relief and limiting side effects from chemotherapy.
A number of herbs used in TCM are also used at well-respected, Western medicine clinics to treat anything from trouble sleeping to arthritis to menopause.
Tai chi seems to improve balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Cupping may help relieve pain from shingles.

Who Should Use It?

That’s a personal decision. People use TCM for anything from carpal tunnel syndrome to lowering stress. Sometimes they use it along with Western medicine. It may be a good choice if you:

Have a lot of different symptoms with no clear cause
Need to treat side effects from drugs
Have tried Western medicine but didn’t get results
Want to prevent illness

Who Should Avoid TCM?

In general, doctors suggest you don’t use it to totally replace Western medicine, especially if you have a serious condition like cancer or liver disease.

They also urge caution, especially with herbs, if you’re:

Pregnant or breastfeeding
Scheduled for surgery (some herbs could lead to bleeding problems or prevent drugs used during surgery from working)
Taking other medicine as well
Treating a child

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