Why do TCM intakes take so long?

Why is this Acupuncturist asking me so many questions?… I am only here because I have read that Acupuncture is effective to treat low back pain. Why does she want to look at my tongue, and can she really tell anything about me by feeling my radial (wrist) pulse?

Yes, we will get to treating your back pain, but first, we must make a full TCM diagnosis and establish a treatment plan. The whole point is to treat you as a whole person, and we may as well include some points to calm your mind and treat your insomnia or digestion or whatever else is bothering you while we sort out that nagging low back pain problem.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) evolved through centuries of observing the whole of a person’s symptoms and eventually TCM doctors established Syndromes, called Zheng, which can be thought of as “patterns of dysfunction”, or symptoms that often combine together, that give the TCM doctor clues about what is really going on at the root (ben) of your condition. That way, he/she can treat the whole pattern, and bring improvement to many aspects of your functioning, rather than just sticking a needle in your Quadratus Lumborum (low back muscle) to release the muscular tension there (although he/she may do that, too!)

Perhaps your overactive anxiety is diverting energy up to your head and away from where it should be nourishing your low back (We call this Shen Xu Yin Xu Re Zheng). Or maybe you are getting older, and also have some urinary incontinence, or sexual power is becoming diminished (we call this Shen Qi Bu Gu).

The point is, your TCM doctor can assess your overall pattern and will treat that low back pain accordingly. For older, deficient-type patients, it is probably necessary to take a herbal formula to strengthen the body instead of just releasing the tight low back muscles.

So, be prepared to answer a lot of questions, but one of the great things about seeing an Acupuncturist is the opportunity to learn more about your patterns and things that you can do to improve your overall health and happiness.

I wish you all the best,
Lisa Cumberland R.TCMP