Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Chinese Medicine

What is Chinese medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is thousands of years old and has changed little over the centuries. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body.  Any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. The imbalance, in turn, is caused by an imbalance in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the life force called yin and yang.

Ancient Chinese believed that humans are microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe, and are interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. Balance between health and disease is a key concept. TCM treatment seeks to restore this balance through treatment specific to the individual. 

To regain balance, the belief is that you must achieve the balance between the internal body organs and the external elements of earth, fire, water, wood, and metal.

Treatment to regain balance may involve:

  • Acupuncture

  • Moxibustion (the burning of herbal leaves on or near the body)

  • Cupping (the use of warmed glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body)

  • Massage

  • Herbal remedies

  • Movement and concentration exercises (such as tai chi)

Acupuncture is a component of TCM commonly found in Western medicine and has received the most study. Some herbal treatments used in TCM can act as medicines and be very effective but may also have serious side effects. In 2004, for example, the FDA banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra and plants containing ephedra group alkaloids due to complications, such as heart attack and stroke. Ephedra is a Chinese herb used in dietary supplements for weight loss and performance enhancement. However, the ban does not apply to certain herbal products prepared under TCM guidelines intended only for short-term use rather than long-term dosing. It also does not apply to OTC and prescription drugs or to herbal teas.

If you are thinking of using TCM, a certified practitioner is your safest choice. The federally recognized Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) accredits schools that teach acupuncture and TCM. Many of the states that license acupuncture require graduation from an ACAOM-accredited school. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers separate certification programs in acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and Oriental bodywork.

TCM should not be used as a replacement for traditional treatment, especially for serious conditions, but it may be beneficial when used as complementary therapy. Since some TCM herbal medicines can interfere or be toxic when combined with Western medicines, you should inform your doctor if you are using TCM. 


Chinese Medicine - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Garilli, Bianca, ND
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Last Review Date: 2015-05-15T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2015-07-02T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2015-07-02T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.