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What Is a Chinese Medicine Hospital?

By Solomon Branch
Updated May 17, 2024
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A Chinese medicine hospital is a hospital where traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the modality of treatment. TCM actually consists of many treatment methods practiced alone or together. The primary form of treatment is often acupuncture, but TCM also includes herbal medicine, moxibustion, qi gong and tui na, which is a form of massage. Most Chinese medicine hospitals are actually in China, but they also are prevalent in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other south Asian countries.

A practitioner at a Chinese medicine hospital usually will specialize in one particular area of treatment, although he or she might practice several modalities. Usually, however, a practitioner will specialize in acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui na or qi gong. Acupuncture is the use of very fine needles that are inserted into the body along acupuncture meridians, the lines that run along the exterior of the body. Herbal medicine is the use of formulas of herbs mixed to treat a particular problem. Qi gong, pronounced “chee gong,” is a discipline that uses energy for healing.

Tui na, a form of Chinese massage, is often treated as another specialty but is also considered a complementary or secondary treatment at times. Many tui na practitioners will also be acupuncturists, herbalists or qi gong practitioners. Moxibustion is the use of processed mugwort, known as ai ye in Chinese medicine, which is burned in cone or loose form along the meridians of the body to stimulate movement. There are other minor forms of treatment used too, such as cupping, gua sha and acupressure, that are usually administered by acupuncturists.

Treatments in a Chinese medicine hospital are usually a mixture of the modalities. In some cases, only one form, usually acupuncture or herbal medicine, will be used. Many Chinese medicine hospitals also work closely with modern, Western hospitals or are a department in a hospital that practices Western medicine.

TCM and Chinese medicine hospitals are still very widely used in China, and they are becoming more prevalent in Western countries, albeit as part of a hospital that primarily practices western medicine; TCM is still considered a complementary treatment in non-Asian countries. In China and other Asian countries, many people have the choice between using a Chinese medicine hospital or a more modern, Western hospital. Many patients opt to combine the two, although there are still many who prefer one or the other. In rural regions of China, a Chinese medicine hospital might be the only form of treatment available.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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