TCM is based on theories about qi, a vital energy, which is said to flow along channels called meridians
and help the body to maintain health. In acupuncture, needles puncture the skin to tap into any of the
hundreds of points on the meridians where the flow of qi can be redirected to restore health. Treatments,
whether acupuncture or herbal remedies, are also said to work by rebalancing
forces known as yin and yang.
Practitioners of TCM and Western-trained physicians have often eyed each other suspiciously. The Western
convention is to seek well-defined, well-tested causes to explain a disease state. And it typically requires
randomized, controlled clinical trials that provide statistical evidence that a drug works.
From the TCM perspective, this is too simplistic. Factors that determine health are specific to individuals.
Drawing conclusions from large groups is difficult, if not impossible. And the remedies are often a mix
of a dozen or more ingredients with mechanisms that cannot, they say, be reduced to a single factor.