Chinese medicine only seems esoteric to those not familiar with its practices. The body is not just the corporeal entity that one can see, but is also made up of energy centers that allow energy, or chi, to flow easily throughout the body. When chi is flowing steadily throughout a person’s body, the person is healthy and energetic. However, should the chi be blocked or flowing irregularly, the body may become sick, requiring that those flows be returned to their correct paths.
Returning chi to its proper channels requires a number of practices. Acupuncture (piercing the centers with needles) or acupressure (properly massaging the correct centers) may be part of the process, as well as changes in diet and exercise. Also, alchemical concoctions, potions and balms made of ingredients that can cure the body, may also be part of the regimen.
This is not to demean the practice; rather, it is to point out that it is more of a philosophy than a hard science. Rather than relying on the chemicals of science, the point is that the doctor is taking care of the whole person, and not just the physical elements. Chinese medicine benefits those that are willing to believe, and not just go through the motions.
Through the potent combination of belief, the Chinese doctor is there to do whatever he can to heal the patient in both the short term and long term. The medicines he gives are meant to deal with the problem and get the patient through it, but the advice he gives is to help the patient through the problems that caused the illness in the first place.
Western science is just beginning to catch up with that concept, but as Chinese medicine benefits anyone interested in learning it and practicing it, it is hoped that at least part of its philosophy will join that of Western medicine, resulting in more effective cures for a wider range of ailments.