How Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture Treats Disease versus Western Medicine

Main differences between TCM Acupuncture and Western Medicine: 

TCM Acupuncture Treats More than Your Symptom

Treating the Branch (Symptom) vs the Root (Cause)

TCM acupuncture is known for treating chronic pain and issues that have been lingering for a long time. Often acupuncture is something we seek out after we have tried all other options. This is probably due to not really buying into the idea that acupuncture could actually work on something real, like severe pain or for hormonal imbalance, as with infertility. I thought the same way before I FINALLY tried it. (See My Story Here) TCM Acupuncture works to find out the root cause of disease and dis-ease in order to treat and resolve the pain or issue and – help prevent it from returning.

Western Medicine often only treats the branch of the disease, instead of also treating the root, where the disease started. Shining a dull leaf on a plant or tree will not resolve the problem long-term if there is disease within the root.  The root cause must be treated in order to treat the whole plant. It is the same with the human body.

Another words, TCM acupuncture treats more than just the symptoms, it also treats the cause of those symptoms.

Of course, there are times when the marvels of modern Western Medicine are necessary and appropriate to use over acupuncture or other medical treatments, i.e., Cancer, emergency surgery, life-saving medications and fixing major structural issues like broken bones and torn tendons, to name just a few.

Acupuncture does not treat such things as Cancer and should never claim to. However, acupuncture is good for many of these ailments, once the patient is in a healing stage. For instance, acupuncture is very good at helping relieve common issues in patients due to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for Cancer. Many patients come to Aleesha D Acupuncture for relief after chemotherapy/ radiation Cancer treatment appointments in order to feel better.

Acupuncture Relieves Nausea, Vomit and Low Energy after Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment


Treatment Aimed at Prevention vs the “Wait and See” until Symptoms Manifest into Disease:

TCM acupuncture aims for prevention. It is concerned with preventing the issue from recurring or worsening. TCM acupuncture treats specific TCM disease patterns (according to how an individual patient presents) with the aim of helping the body regain balance in order to stop the disease or dis-ease before it progresses into something worse, or before it progresses into an actual diagnosed disease (where there once was no diagnosis).

Western Medicine operates within a different medical paradigm. This is why Western Medicine often can only treat the individual after a disease has been diagnosed. Then medications, surgeries or other therapies can be recommended, taken and monitored-sometimes for life, i.e., thryoid medications!

This is common with patients who complain to doctors (sometimes for years) of chronic signs and symptoms such as low energy, fatigue, constipation, anxiety, depression, low libido, dry skin and cold hands and feet. At first these individuals are told there is nothing showing up in their labs in regard to imbalances (such as thyroid)…only to be told years later, once the labs finally show the imbalance as a thyroid deficiency or excess (once the imbalance progressed enough to show up on the tests). Unfortunately, by this time the signs and symptoms have been allowed to progress to the state of disease, i.e., Thyroid Disease such as Auto Immune Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and Auto Immune Grave’s Disease.

It is interesting that in ancient China, doctors were only paid for prevention of disease; they were not paid if they did not prevent disease in their patients because they did not do their job.

Thyroid, Auto Immune Issues and Acupuncture

Your licensed acupuncturist is trained in TCM Food Therapy and may go over your diet and other lifestyle factors, and may make recommendations in order to help with issues such as infertility, insomnia, anxiety and sub-clinical (symptoms of low thyroid not showing in labs) thyroid deficiency. Acupuncture aims to help your body balance itself, in order to avoid disease and dis-ease.


Acupuncture for Anxiety

TCM acupuncture treats the whole person. This is why acupuncturists ask so many seemingly un-related questions. Your acupuncturist is going to ask about your digestion, diet, exercise, mood, menstrual cycle (if you are female), etc. The answers to these questions are each like a puzzle piece. These puzzle pieces make up a picture of you, the individual. This information allows them to treat you according to fitting within TCM Disease patterns, which are different than Western Medicine disease.

This also explains how TCM acupuncture can treat an individual under a TCM disease pattern even without a Western diagnosis, when Western medicine is at a loss as to how to define or treat certain issues or Syndromes, i.e., Fertility, Fibromyalgia, SIBO, Thyroid issues, Endometriosis and Insomnia.

What Acupuncture is Good at Treating

Acupuncture is good at treating pain and promoting functional issues within the body; digestion issues, hormonal imbalances, range of motion issues and of course, pain due to almost any root cause. Acupuncture can help with Depression when it is mild to moderate and is good for Anxiety. This is because it helps move stuck “Qi” or energy that has turned into stagnation in the body, commonly referred to as “Liver Qi Stagnation” with depression-like issues.

When Western Medicine is Needed

Acupuncture is not suitable for fixing structural issues; broken bones, torn or severed nerves, ligaments or tendons. Obviously there is a time and place for everything, including appropriate medical care for each situation. Once the tendon, bone or ligament is repaired, however acupuncture can be a good modality to help the effected area of the body to heal more quickly. An example of this is after knee, hip or shoulder surgery. Acupuncture is so common after surgeries that many hospitals are providing this option to their post-op patients to help lower the pain and inflammation, especially as they taper from pain medications.

Many patients come to Aleesha D Acupuncture in Anoka after hip surgery, knee surgery, shoulder surgery and back surgery to help relieve inflammation, swelling and pain, as well as getting back on their feet more quickly.

Thanks for reading!

Written by Aleesha Ackerman, LAc

Aleesha Ackerman is a certified and state licensed acupuncturist with a Master’s degree in acupuncture. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree from Hamline University. Aleesha owns and operates Aleesha D Acupuncture clinic for Pain and Women’s Health in Anoka, MN.

She became interested in acupuncture and holistic medicine when acupuncture cured her of debilitating migraine pain after an auto collision with a semi-truck. Aleesha specializes in treating acute and chronic pain and Women’s Health. Women come to her everyday with issues such as hot flashes, mood imbalance and low energy. Read more about Aleesha and what she specializes in Here.

Patients at Aleesha D Acupuncture report feeling cared for, listened to and are happy to get the much-needed pain and stress relief from their treatments!

Why wait? Start Your Relief Today- contact Aleesha D Acupuncture in Anoka today to schedule your acupuncture appointment!

Feel Better, Move Forward

Aleesha D Acupuncture is located in historic downtown Anoka at 207 East Main Street just off Highway 10 with free lots, ramps and street parking.


This article is not intended to replace any health care. No information on this site should be relied on to determine medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. As with any health concerns, always be sure to consult your health care provider with any health concerns.

Licensed Acupuncturist in Anoka Serving Andover, Anoka, Big Lake, Champlin, Circle Pines, Columbus, Coon Rapids, Dayton, East Bethel, Elk River, Forest Lake, Fridley, Ham Lake, Isanti, Lino Lakes, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Now Then, Oak Grove, Osseo, Ostego, Ramsey, Saint Francis, Saint Paul, Shoreview, Spring Lake Park, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Lake.

Zip codes we treat: 55304, 55303, 55309, 55014, 55316, 55433, 55448, 55327, 55330, 55432, 55040, 55401, 55402, 55403, 55404, 55406, 55407, 55408, 55409, 55410, 55411, 55412, 55413, 55416, 55418, 55419, 55421, 55422, 55011, 55311, 55369, 55102, 55103, 55104, 55105, 55106, 55107, 55108, 55101, 55109, 55110, 55111, 55113, 55114, 55116, 55117, 55120, 55124, 55125, 55115, 55118, 55119, 55121, 55122, 55123, 55126, 55129, 55130, 55146, 55127, 55128, 55133, 55144, 55145, 55155, 55164, 55165, 55166, 55166, 55168, 55170, 55175, 55187, 55188, 55171, 55172, 55014, 55025, 55371, 55398, 55308, 55960


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