A to Z of MS
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A to Z of MS Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine belongs to a branch of medicine known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
The principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are based on energy flow in the body. Advocates of TCM suggest that maintaining the natural balance of the body's energy flow can prove therapeutic in long-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Different elements of TCM, most often including acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs, are brought together to restore the flow of energy (qi or chi) in the body. Diet and nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and counselling, and massage therapy are also used by some TCM practitioners.
It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of TCM in the treatment of MS due to the lack of published research available in English. While acupuncture is considered a relatively low risk treatment option in the treatment, the use of Chinese herbs by people with MS needs to be approached with greater caution as the effects of such substances on the immune system are not fully known.
Traditional Chinese practitioners are currently unregulated. In 2011 the Government announced its intention that herbal practitioners should become regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. This would include traditional Chinese medicine practitioners who use unlicensed herbs in their practise. The Department of Health is developing proposals for the regulation of these practitioners.