Beyond the M.D.
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THE PRINCIPLE TCM is rooted in the balance of yin and yang, two complementary polar forces that require free-flowing qi to maintain equilibrium. When qi is blocked, illness results. Practitioners also believe the body is divided into Organ Networks: Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney. These networks govern specific tissues, mental faculties, and physical activities by regulating qi. Certain ailments are related to a network (e.g., anxiety is linked to the Heart network).
WHAT TO EXPECT The doctor first examines the condition and color of your skin, tongue, hair, eyes, nails, etc. Your personal and family health history, work and living habits, physical environment, emotional life, and even the sound of your voice are also taken into account to determine where qi is blocked and which organ networks are affected. Imbalances are corrected with acupuncture, acupressure, herbal remedies, and moxibustion, a form of heat therapy where dried mugwort is burned over an inflamed area. Meditation, yoga, and qigong are also prescribed.
GOOD FOR Asthma, insomnia, lower-back pain, and headaches, as well as symptoms and side effects related to diabetes, chronic pain, HIV, and cancer.
COST AND RESOURCES $40 to $150 for a first visit; $45 to $85 for followups. To locate practitioners, visit acufinder.com; the American Association of Oriental Medicine (aaom .org); the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance (acuall .org); and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (nccaom.org).