Consumers Choosing Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine

Posted by & filed under Alternative Medicine, Herbs & Medicine.

consumers-choosing-traditional-chinese-medicine-vs-western-medicineMore than a third of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for therapeutic or preventive health care, according to the National Institutes of Health. Complementary and alternative medicine covers a range of practices and treatments that includes:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Herbal medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathy
  • Chiropractic care

What is CAM?
Complementary and alternative medicine is a group of health care systems and practices that are not considered part of traditional Western medicine, but are increasingly sought out by people who wish to take a holistic approach to their health care.

As with any form of treatment, patients should inform all their health care providers about any therapies they are using or considering in order to ensure a coordinated course of care. Some treatments may interact or counteract others, so it’s important to be upfront about all the therapies you uses. Individuals respond differently to treatments, whether they are conventional medicine or CAM. How a patient responds to a CAM treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the patient’s state of health and how the therapy is used. Talk to your health care provider about what you can expect when you start a treatment and follow up as needed.

Choosing between treatment options
As CAM therapies become increasingly available in the health care marketplace, consumers have a lot of types of providers and treatments from which to choose.

In a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, authors Wenbo Wang (New York University), Hean Tat Keh (Beijing University) and Lisa E. Bolton (Pennsylvania State University) wrote:

“Examples of the wide array of conventional and complementary and alternative health remedy options available to consumers include drugs, supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy, ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine, to name a few. Such medical pluralism is common in both developed and developing countries and raises the questions: How do consumers choose among health remedies, and what are the consequences for a healthy lifestyle?”

The authors assess how consumers choose between Western medicine and its Eastern counterparts, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and ayurvedic medicine. They wrote:

“Western Medicine is primarily concerned with the material aspect of the body and views all medical phenomena as cause-effect sequences, relying on rigorous scientific studies and research that seeks empirical proof to all phenomena. On the other hand, TCM and ayurvedic medicine favor a holistic approach, view the mind and body as a whole system, and rely upon inductive tools and methods for treatment.”

Why choose alternative medicine? 

Based on a series of experiments and surveys in the United States, China and India, the authors found that consumers prefer TCM over Western medicine when uncertain about the cause of an illness. They reason that this preference stems from the fact that holistic medicine tolerates diagnosis uncertainty better than Western medicine. TCM uses a four pillar approach to diagnosis, for example.
Similarly, many consumers prefer TCM over Western medicine based on the belief that TCM offers an underlying cure versus symptom alleviation by Western medicine.

Common CAM therapies

Some of the most frequently used complementary and alternative therapies among adults are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Natural supplements
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Chiropractic care

Individuals who have holistic lifestyles are more likely to seek alternative medicine therapies.

For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department.


What to Look for in Acupuncture Training Programs

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Education & Research.

acupuncture-training-programsThe process of researching new educational opportunities and considering a new career can be daunting. But what do you need to focus on when evaluating acupuncture schools specifically? A lot of factors might sway your decision on what degree program to pursue, but some important elements to consider include: accreditation status, philosophy, location and more. If you’re researching Oriental Medicine degrees, find out more about what to look for in acupuncture training programs before taking the plunge. 


First make sure to check the status of any school you’re considering with the only organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine — the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). This non-profit organizations ensures that programs meet high standards of quality. More than 60 programs and institutions are accredited by the ACAOM, so you’ll have plenty of options when choosing a school.


Like any traditional college or university, a school of acupuncture may have a specific area of focus. According to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), training programs in the United States have a broad range of curricula that focus on a variety of traditions of Oriental medicine. Traditions that may be emphasized in an acupuncture program include:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Five Element
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese

Learn about the different traditions and choose a school that teaches in that vein, or evaluate other aspects of schools that interest you and then find out whether their tradition will make a good fit with your education and career aspirations.

Degree Earned

Find out what kind of degree you would earn in a particular program. As with the variety of traditions that schools may focus on, there are a range of degrees you might receive, depending on the school. They may include a degree in one of the following areas:

  • Master of Acupuncture
  • Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Master of Science in Oriental Medicine
  • Diploma in Acupuncture
  • Master in Traditional Oriental Medicine

While it’s beneficial to know the title of the degree you’d be earning in a particular program, it’s mostly just semantics — the content of the curriculum and other factors are likely to be more important in swaying you decision.


Obviously, you want to go a school in a place you want to live while pursuing your degree. Choosing a school where you want to practice may make sense since you will likely be taking certification courses after graduation in the state where you want to practice. You may also be mid-career and want to choose a local school you can attend while otherwise employed or juggling other responsibilities. Many acupuncture training programs offer start times throughout the year and night classes for students with those constraints.


Different schools are likely to have variable resources available to prospective and matriculating students. Beforehand, find out whether you can attend a class at a school you’re considering, and talk to faculty or graduates who can speak to their academic and professional experiences. How to finance your degree may be of interest to you, so see if you can talk to a school’s financial aid department. Some schools also run clinics to give their students hands-on experience treating patients before graduating. If real-world experience is something you’re looking for, find a program that runs a clinic and book and even book an appointment to check it out!


Find out what percentage of students at a school you’re considering find employment upon graduation and how long it takes. Ask if the program has placement assistance and resources. Again, talking to graduates of an acupuncture training program will give you a good sense of your own career options. 

Download our free guide to learn more about how to pursue a career in the exciting world of acupuncture.


Herbal Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Posted by & filed under Alternative Medicine, Education & Research, Herbs & Medicine.

traditional-chinese-medicine-herbsBetween 25 and 45 million people in the United States suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Between 10 to 15 percent of people worldwide are affected by the disorder. Traditional Chinese medicine herbs may improve symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and distension caused by IBS, according to a Cochrane Library systematic review. Learn more about the disorder and how traditional Chinese medicine can help.

What is IBS?

A common and chronic health condition, irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine, or the colon, and can cause the following symptoms:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can be managed through a variety of natural methods, including diet modification, stress reduction and lifestyle changes, and traditional Chinese medicine herbs.

Research on herbal medicine

Authors of the Cochrane review searched for studies that evaluated the effectiveness of herbal medicine for IBS — including Chinese, Tibetan and Indian herbal medicines — and found 75 different trials. The trials, most of which were conducted in China, investigated a wide range of different preparations.

“Some of the medicines did improve the global symptoms of IBS,” says lead author Jianping Liu, a professor from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Medicines that showed promise included Chinese herbal formulations and individualized herbal formulations, as well as the Tibetan herbal formula Padma Lax.

The Chinese herbal medicine Tongxie Yaofang showed a significant effect on global symptoms, as did an Indian Ayurvedic formula of two herbs. Several trials reported that combining conventional and herbal medicines produced greater benefit than using conventional therapies alone.

The benefits of natural treatment

Using traditional Chinese medicine herbs for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders offers many benefits, including:

  • Management of symptoms when conventional therapies prove ineffective
  • A lack of adverse side effects
  • A strengthening boost for the immune system
  • Aid in general health maintenance

Herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years and can serve a valuable role in the management of IBS, as well as other gastrointestinal disorders.

The community clinic at the Acupuncture and Massage College in Miamai offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions, as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about the college’s programs in Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.

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Finding the Right School of Oriental Medicine

Posted by & filed under Alternative Medicine, Education & Research.

finding-the-right-school-of-oriental-medicineOriental medicine offers a satisfying and rewarding career path. Most degrees in Oriental medicine take four years to complete, so you want to find a program in which you will thrive, along with obtaining the knowledge you need to pass licensure exams and flourish in the field upon graduation. Keep these considerations in mind when finding the right school of Oriental medicine:


More than 50 schools belong to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), which is the only organization that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes to accredit schools offering these programs. That means you have a variety of places in which you can pursue a degree. Check with the CCAOM to find out if there’s a school in your city.

Selecting a program in the state in which you plan to practice can be beneficial, as the school may help prepare you specifically to take the licensing exam in that state. You may also benefit from the local alumni network as you prepare to practice upon graduation.

Different philosophies

Each school of Oriental medicine has a different and unique approach to its curriculum. A program will likely focus on one or be a blend of the following traditions:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Five Element
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese

Deciding which tradition you want to be the focus of your own education will help you narrow down programs. Read a school’s mission statement and read through their course listings to get an idea of what you’d be studying. And just like any other institution of higher learning, a visit to campus will also help you determine whether the culture of a specific school of Oriental medicine would be a good fit for you.

Academic credentials

Many schools of Oriental medicine require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree for admission. Find out whether the programs you’re considering will accept your academic experience or if you need to finish prerequisites before pursuing a degree.

As mentioned above, most Oriental medicine programs take four years to complete. The name of the degree you receive may vary slightly by institution, with options including Master of Oriental Medicine or Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Degrees in acupuncture alone may take only three years to complete.

Other considerations

Some schools may offer part-time or night school classes for those who need to balance their pursuit of education with an existing job, family or other obligations. Some schools will have programs that start throughout the year, so you wouldn’t have to wait for the fall to begin a program. You can apply for financial aid, including scholarships, to offset the costs of studying at a school of Oriental medicine, so speak the the financial aid department of any college you’re considering.


Before selecting a program, do your research by reaching out to people in the industry, meeting with administrators and attending classes at the institutions on your list, and reading through each program’s informational materials. 

To learn more about the Massage and Acupuncture College’s degree in Oriental Medicine, call our admissions department at (305) 595-9500 and download our free guide.


Studying Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Herbs & Medicine.

traditional-chinese-medicineEmbarking on a course of study in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers a range of personal and professional benefits. A program in TCM gives students a broad base of knowledge, diagnostic skills and an understanding of the subtleties of therapies used by practitioners of this ancient system of health care.


One of the main elements of an academic program in traditional Chinese medicine is the study of diagnostics. This area focuses on the diagnosis of diseases and syndromes through examination. In a TCM program, diagnostics is taught based on a specific theory and methodology that differs from traditional Western medicine.

Students study diagnostics in the context of the clinical specialties of TCM — acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Tui Na — and learn the theory and methods of these practices. They also learn about pathological conditions and develop the ability to analyze differentiating syndromes in their patients.

Clinical practice

By studying both theory and diagnostics, students then become capable of uniting theory and practice, which becomes the foundation of clinical practice. Along with learning the therapeutic methods of TCM, students gain an extensive background in Western bio-medical sciences.

A degree in TCM will also include study of the traditional Chinese pharmacy and prescriptions, herbs, and commonly used drugs. Students also learn how to treat frequently encountered diseases.

Chinese Herbs have many different healing qualities

Dr. Gordon Xu shows student interns how to check the freshness of Chinese herbs

The specialties of TCM
Based on a foundation of theory and diagnostics, students then study diseases in the context of the medical specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology, traumatology and orthopedics. Students also receive in-depth training in the specialties of TCM, including acupuncture and moxibustion, herbal medicine and massage (Tui Na).

A degree program will also include training in how to identify the kinds of diseases suitable for treatment with acupuncture, moxibustion and Tui Na massage, as well as those that respond best to rehabilitation therapy.

A foundation of knowledge

The study of TCM is both challenging and rewarding. As part of their curriculum, some accredited programs offer trips to China, where students can benefit from practicing in hospitals in which TCM is the primary system of medical care.

By the time of graduation from an accredited TCM program, students should have developed a broad base of knowledge in TCM, with core training in the clinical skills needed to perform acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal medicine prescription and Tui Na therapy to effectively treat a wide range of health conditions.

For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department.