Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has existed for thousands of years, long before Western medicine. Rather than following the disease model of Western medicine, TCM focuses on a symptom approach such that a person with PD who has mostly tremor would be evaluated and treated differently than another person whose symptoms were mostly gait and balance difficulty with no tremor. The specific symptoms of the individual signal a deficiency in the body fluids/blood that is unable to properly nourish the energy flow or "chi" or "Qi" of the entire organism. There are three main symptom approaches under TCM (5). The first is Qi and blood deficiency, which is believed to arise from anger, emotional stress, frustration, and resentment. The second is phlegm-fire-agitating wind (yang), which is the result of poor diet, in particular eating greasy, fried, sweet, sugary foods and alcohol. The third is kidney and liver (yin) deficiency, which results from a lack of rest and overwork as well as part of the aging process and a subsequent overall imbalance of the natural body rhythm. PD is thought primarily to occur from a yin or liver and kidney deficiency. The liver, as all organs in TCM, is thought to function through energy channels or meridians that connect to all other body parts. The liver is believed to regulate normal body movement such that when it is deficient, the body develops tremor, stiffness, and slowed, uncoordinated motor function. A physician of TCM often referred to as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine would prescribe specific treatments to strengthen yin deficiency, reduce overactive wind, restore blood circulation, and unclog phlegm obstruction which would likely involve a particular diet, specific herbs, acupuncture, proper rest, and exercise (Tai Chi and Qi Gong breathing) all with the ultimate goal of restoring proper "chi," the life energy source.
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