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Benefits, Risks and How Insurance Treats Traditional Chinese Medicine

Learn the benefits, risks and how insurance treats Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Benefits, Risks and How Insurance Treats Traditional Chinese Medicine
As far as alternative healthcare goes, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) counts itself amongst the oldest and most well established around the world. Encompassing a wide range of practices, TCM has developed in China for more than 5,000. With Taoist beliefs at the base of its philosophies, it views the human body and health differently to Western medicine. 
 
Common TCM therapies include acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicines. However, the approach includes a number of holistic mind-body, dietary, and massage therapies to heal the body and maintain a healthy life. Whilst modern medicine believes more research is needed into TCM, generations of people in Asia have grown up with it as their main source of healthcare. 
 
Historically, the Middle East was an important place for the development of modern medicine as we know it. Arabic medicine contributed largely to the practices used around the world today, but you can find TCM practitioners and clinics in the UAE too. This article from UAE Medical Insurance has all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision when opting for alternative Chinese approaches to health and wellbeing. 
 

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?


In Dubai, practitioners are recognized by the Dubai Health Authority as TCM’s; Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine. This category contains many alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, ayurveda, hijama (cupping), chiropractic, osteopathy, and naturopathy. The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has an exam practitioners must pass in order to become licensed. 
 
TCM itself has four key principles
  • Your body is an integrated whole
  • You are wholly connected with nature
  • You are born with a natural self-healing ability
  • Prevention works as the best cure
Practices of TCM include acupuncture, herbal medicines, moxibustion, tui na, Qigong, and other Chinese therapies such as cupping, gua sha, die-da, and food therapy. For more information on what these practices entail, check out the TCM overview page of our Singapore-based partner, Pacific Prime Singapore. 

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What are the benefits of TCM?


The “all natural” aspect of TCM is one of its biggest draw cards for many people. It uses natural, unprocessed plants and herbs such as ginseng, mushrooms and ginko for ointments and orally taken medicines. Of course, there are some unusual ingredients as well; deer velvet, dried snakes and human placenta. People concerned about the processed chemicals of Western medicine find comfort in TCM’s natural approach. 
 
There is also a more holistic approach to healing in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The previously mentioned four key principles guide practitioners to treat more than just the symptoms of a person. It is not uncommon for a TCM practitioner to give both symptomatic attention through acupuncture therapy, some dietary advice, and herbal medicine in order to repair the whole body rather than just an ailment. 
 

Are there risks involved with TCM?


Some in the West are skeptical of the true value and benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine, while many Western medical experts suggesting that there is not enough research to conclude that it does or does not do what it claims. Other concerns are surrounding the sourcing of raw ingredients for TCM medicines and whether or not they are genuinely what they’re advertised to be. 
 
The Gulf News wrote about illegal, unlicensed TCAM practitioners a few years ago. The Ministry of Health was alerted to the potential of increased public health risks from people using unsafe practices, and operating out of unregulated premises (such as homes rather than clinics). In other countries, unregistered TCM practitioners have been accused of hospitalizing people with fake medicines. 
 
Our key advice is: use common sense and err on the side of caution. If something feels amiss about a practitioner or you’re unsure of the quality of the medicine you’re receiving, then check they are licensed with the MoH or simply seek treatment elsewhere. 
 

Choosing a TCM approach: will my insurance cover it?


Health insurance policies generally focus on Western approaches to medicine, however many insurers have policies that do cover alternative forms of treatment - especially Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. It’s not our position to give you advice on whether or not to use or try TCM for healthcare, that’s a decision you must make for yourself. 
 
What UAE Medical Insurance can do, however, is ensure that you have the right insurance coverage should you decide to go down the TCM route. We have insurance solutions that allow you to consider both Western and TCM treatment options for care should you want them. If you’re unsure about whether your current policy covers alternative medicine/healthcare, give the team at UAE Medical Insurance a call today!

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