As a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner with special interest in fertility, my book, Pathways to Pregnancy and many of my blog posts focus on the practical applications of TCM as a fertility treatment. In my book, I talk about the importance of achieving balance in your life and creating the right conditions to conceive a child and carry the pregnancy to term.
I also want to spend some time discussing the roots of TCM. Where does it come from? How old is it? And how does the ancient practice fit into healthcare today?
1. It’s really, really old
TCM is the oldest experiential science in the world, dating back almost 2,500 years. First conceptualized near the end of the Han Dynasty (1st – 2nd century AD), TCM began as an effort to understand our relationship with the outside environment and how that may affect our vitality. Over the next several centuries, TCM evolved into an actionable practice where practitioners could identify and treat categorized patterns of symptoms.
2. It’s well-documented
One of the main reasons that TCM has prevailed through the ages and continued to develop is because of the diligent efforts its practitioners put into recording their findings and observations. The first texts discussing medical theory and therapy were published during the Han Dynasty, later going through several revisions over the next 1,000 years based on the centuries of real evidence from patients — hence the term “experiential science.”
3. It has strong roots in philosophy
As I discussed in another post, TCM is a holistic practice that treats the human body as a network of interactions between the internal and external environment and looks to achieve balance among all these interactions. This concept of harmony stems from Taoism (also referred to as Daoism). Taoism has influenced key elements of TCM, shaping how TCM defines and supports things like energy and fertility.
4. It’s a combination of multiple practices
TCM is actually a diverse mix of practices. These include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary therapy, and lifestyle counselling. Because TCM focuses on the concept of harmony between internal and external systems, practitioners work with patients to improve their overall health — even if the main concern is a particular symptom or disease. Within the context of fertility challenges (the specific condition), a balanced and healthy internal environment enhances the possibility of conception.
5. It’s not a substitute for Western medicine
In modern practice, TCM is not meant to be at odds with or replace Western medicine. Studies have shown that patients benefit most when both are used together and that neither works to its full potential without the other. In a study by Lee Hullender Rubin where the number of live births was compared between IVF versus combined IVF and TCM treatments, the group that was treated with both had 13% more live births than the group that received IVF alone.
TCM has a long and fascinating history and TCM practitioners like me are constantly looking for new ways to combine it with Western practices and blend the two to achieve the best possible outcome. It’s based on the wisdom of early scientists who recorded their patients’ responses to symptoms and treatments that are still backed by modern science. What are some of the ways you find balance, internally or externally? Share your thoughts in the comments below.