Traditional Chinese Medicine and Your Personal Wellness Program
As our society becomes more health conscious, people are interested in taking proactive steps to maintain wellness. Many terms are thrown around in an effort to describe wellness medicine, creating confusion in people trying to develop their own wellness best practices.
Two Views of Wellness Medicine
Conventionally trained Western doctors often see wellness only in terms of preventative medicine, which manifests predominantly as cancer screenings (mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, etc). The idea with this approach is to find the underlying causes of symptoms and, with pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures, treat those causes directly.
Eastern doctors, on the other hand, see wellness through the lens of holistic medicine, which refers to a philosophy that takes a person’s mind, body, and social structure into account when diagnosing disease, and when developing therapies to treat disease.
A quick way to understand the difference is to think about Western conventional medicine as “what is broken? fix it” and Eastern holistic medicine as “what is out of balance? balance it”.
The Better Choice For Holistic Wellness
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is often seen, by those who don’t understand its foreign terminology and internal logic, as if it were something not rooted in facts. But the reality is TCM comes from observing the outcomes of billions of patients to holistic health remedies applied over the course of 3000 years.
To put it simply, TCM has been a system of medicine so long that it has seen everything.
The Strengths of Western and Eastern Medicine
Some issues are, indeed, more easily and quickly dealt with using the Western medical way. For example, Western medicine excels at treatments for situations where time is a critical factor, like cardiac arrest, acute infections, or traumatic injury.
But if the patient has a long standing illness that tends to affect many systems (like autoimmune diseases or autonomic dysfunction for example), the experience of TCM is that these medical issues are the result of one or more imbalances of mind and body. Without definitive symptoms, it can be difficult for the Western doctors who are untrained in the holistic health approach to notice such imbalances. And this is especially true when corporate-controlled medical care pushes these doctors to see as many patients per hour as possible.
Because TCM practitioners have spent centuries observing and documenting imbalances in human health, TCM excels at identifying these imbalances. Eastern doctors can easily spot small or growing issues that may not necessarily be bubbling to the surface of a patient’s attention.
Complementary Approaches to a Holistic Health Lifestyle
Eastern and Western medicine are often pitted against one another. But they need not be mutually exclusive. They can be complimentary medical approaches to an overall wellness program.
So, how does one get started on the path to their own holistic wellness journey?
The Yi Guan Holistic Wellness Program
At Yi Guan Acupuncture and Chinese Herbalism, we have put together a wellness program designed around the best practices of traditional Chinese medicine.
Our program takes a three pronged approach:
1.) Checking Your Balance
The first step is to get a holistic assessment. This is accomplished by what we call a mind-body balance check, which has two parts: a medical interview and a physical exam.
2.) Regaining Your Balance
Once we understand your state of balance, called your constitutional pattern in TCM, we can strategize what we need to do in order to get things to pull back to their natural healthy centers.
It might not take much to regain balance. Maybe an acupuncture treatment, a custom-prepared herbal formula or medicinal tea, or a qigong routine or meditation method. But whatever you need, we will work together to figure out where you are, where you want to be, and the best ways to get you there.
3.) Maintaining Your Balance
The body knows how to run and heal itself. Sometimes though, the body forgets and needs a little reminder. This is where proper lifestyle, diet (including morning supplements if needed), exercise, and meditation habits become important.
Together we work to determine the best routines for you. We create a plan that will resonate with you, making it easy, and even enjoyable, for you to follow.
Coming in for mind-body balance checks periodically will help make sure that everything is holding, and that everything remains in balance.
If you are interested in learning more about these services, or starting your journey, contact us today.
Common Questions About Holistic Health
> ARE HOLISTIC DOCTORS EXPENSIVE?
Generally, no. Simple periodic treatments for mind-body balance are not expensive, especially when compared to the costs of Western medicine. However, there are certain conditions that require powerful herbs/supplements and/or frequent sessions or procedures. But that is not the norm for most patients.
> DO HOLISTIC DOCTORS GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL?
Dr. Dan Perez, MD, is both a Western-trained physician and a graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading school in Chinese medicine. Being an expert in Western medicine and Chinese medicine, Dr. Perez one of the few Austin-area medical professionals with the expertise to evaluate both approaches to a medical issue. But not everyone who practices holistic medicine has this amount of training. In fact, most do not have this much medical training. That is why it is important to know the credentials of a holistic health practitioner before you choose him or her.
> HOW DO HOLISTIC DOCTORS DIAGNOSE?
Holistic doctors diagnose by understanding the whole picture (hence holistic) of a person and seeing how all parts might or might not affect each other. This would entail asking many questions beyond the scope of a person’s chief complaint, including social and family history. It’s about finding a pattern in the data, seeing the forest formed by the trees rather than getting distracted by particular single trees. Certain patterns come up again and again, and a holistic doctor can spot these patterns with a properly conducted holistic interview and exam.
> HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A HOLISTIC CARE PLAN?
Our mind-body balance check is exactly this, a customized plan for your holistic care. It is not the “here’s your colonoscopy, see you next year” approach of Western medicine. Our approach is a collaborative effort between physician and patient. Holistic medicine requires communication and follow-up. Our Holistic Wellness Program was designed exactly with that in mind.
> HOW EFFECTIVE IS HOLISTIC MEDICINE?
Holistic medicine can be very effective, especially with multiple, complex, chronic intersecting diseases or with issues that have no single definitive cause. Sometimes a holistic approach is the only way to realize the problem, treat the problem, or both.
> IS HOLISTIC MEDICINE CHEAPER?
Holistic medicine can be cheaper. The Western medical approach is to treat each problem in a patient individually. Often every problem has its own doctor and therapy, even though all the problems are occurring in the same patient. All these individual efforts add up in cost. But with the holistic approach, which focuses on understanding how a patient functions as a whole, we can identify one issue that is likely manifesting across a group of organ systems. Treating that one problem improves everything else, saving the patient time and money.
> IS HOLISTIC MEDICINE SAFE?
Holistic medicine is an attitude and approach more than anything else. Holistic practitioners will still have their regular tools of diagnosis and treatment. In that respect, they are at least as safe as conventional medicine. But with a holistic broad stroke picture, the therapeutic phase of holistic medicine does, in general, tend to be milder, gentler, and safer than if specific signs and symptoms are targeted with tight focus.
> IS MINDFULNESS A COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY?
Mindfulness, defined as putting your awareness predominantly if not wholly on the task at hand, is very important for a sound mind and body. From being more control of your emotions and reactions, to being more focused at your job, to even being more aware of your body and its health, mindfulness is at the root of it all. Meditation is the way to achieve and refine this skill. Meditation instruction is an integral part of the process, and is part of every personal wellness program at Yi Guan Acupuncture and Chinese Herbalism. For those only interested in mindfulness training, we offer private and small group meditation classes. Or come join our free mid-week mid-day meditation meetup every Wednesday from 12-1.
> WHAT DO HOLISTIC DOCTORS TREAT?
Holistic doctors treat the entire individual, hence the name, rather than just symptoms. Many times this would amount to treatment methods and modalities that everyone knows and has done before, be it Eastern medicine, chiropractic, or even conventional Western medicine. But the diagnostic and therapeutic tools are applied differently. A holistic doctor focuses instead on getting the broader picture of signs, symptoms, and quality of life to improve, rather than just chasing lab test results back to their supposed proper levels.
> WHERE DO I START WITH HOLISTIC LIVING?
The first step is to get an honest, accurate picture of your health. Next is to figure out what methods and supplements/herbs will get you to your goals. An ocean of information exists on this topic that can sometimes be daunting or confusing. The key is to find a practitioner of holistic medicine/living who can guide you through the process and help you develop a lifelong routine.
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