Oriental Medicine: History and Benefits

Oriental Medicine, also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Integrative Medicine, is an ancient medical system where the practitioner views a patient’s whole body in their entirety to gain a full scope of their health rather than focusing solely on their ailments.

Why Consider Oriental Medicine?

In oriental medicine, there is a vital force of life, called Qi, that surges through the body and flows along meridians, or channels. Qi keeps a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health in balance. When Qi becomes imbalanced, it will cause a disease or illness to the person. This imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by an alteration in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the Qi. These are called Yin and Yang.

There are different treatment modalities in oriental medicine, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal medicine
  • Moxibustion
  • Nutrition
  • Cupping
  • Breath and movement exercises (Tai Chi and Qi Gong)

All methods can be helpful, and it is best to obtain a recommendation from a licensed practitioner.

What Does Science Say About the Effectiveness of Oriental Medicine?

While oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, there is, of course, still some skepticism in the biomedical field regarding its effectiveness. While many claim oriental medicine and acupuncture only create placebo effects, there is much evidence showing that the stimulation of Qi and blood is effective in promoting health benefits and other wellness.

Additionally, many peer-reviewed clinical studies available have found acupuncture to be effective for many ailments, such as chronic pain, insomnia, the common cold, and more. On top of that, most of the trials conducted with its efficacy against placebo effect and other doubts towards acupuncture end up with productive results.

Is Oriental Medicine Safe?

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and moxibustion are all safe modalities of healthcare when applied by a competent and experienced practitioner. There are still cautions and contraindications within the TCM that are known to be avoided. For example, Clean Needle Technique (CNT) is required for all practicing acupuncturists and interns. Implementing CNT reduces the risk of the transmission of infectious diseases by maintaining standards of cleanliness and sterilization before and between each patient.

Don’t hesitate to ask about the certifications, training and experience of the oriental medicine practitioner that you are considering. Most states and the District of Columbia have laws regulating acupuncture practice, and most states require certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Other Precautions to Consider

  • Never try to self-practice oriental medicine or self-prescribe any herbal ingredients of TCM. Always consult with your health care provider and a licensed practitioner.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any oriental medicine approaches that you are using. It is best to disclose with your healthcare providers about what you do to manage your health so they can help ensure coordinated and safe care moving forward.

Virginia University of Integrative Medicine offers graduate programs with extensive training and in-depth knowledge in Oriental Medicine. Explore fulfilling and exciting career opportunities with the university’s Master of Science in Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (MAcHM) today. Reach out to our Admissions Office at admission@vuim.edu or sign up to one of our upcoming Admissions Information Sessions to get started.

About the Author


Apollonia Morales

Apollonia Morales is an MAcHM student at VUIM focusing on both acupuncture and herbal remedies. She moved to Virginia from Southern California two years ago to attend VUIM. She received her Bachelors of Science in Integrative Health at Arizona State University and graduated summa cum laude.


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