Traditional Chinese Medicine Self-Care and Lifestyle Medicine Outside of Asia: A Systematic Literature Review

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Journal Article
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2019, 25 (8), pp. 789 - 808
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© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019. Background: Chinese medicine, when applied as a whole system of care, traditionally incorporates self-care techniques and patient understanding as key aspects of patient recovery and health maintenance. Objectives: This review aims to explore the literature to date on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) self-care in settings outside of Asia, beyond the sole application of t'ai chi or qigong, to consider simple self-care techniques as health care interventions that may be generalized to a wider population. Design: AMED, CINAHL, EMBASE, PubMed, and MEDLINE databases were searched for articles from inception to July 2018. Studies were included, which were undertaken in settings outside of Asia and/or Asian communities, and were excluded if they solely examined t'ai chi or qigong. Results: Findings of the included studies (n = 37) were categorized into four key areas in relation to the TCM self-care component evaluated: self-Acupressure, self-Acupuncture, self-moxibustion, and the adoption of prescribed lifestyle, diet, and exercise advice based on a TCM diagnosis. The studies included randomized clinical trials, case studies, hospital audits, and qualitative evaluations. The studies assessed TCM self-care in relation to a wide range of health conditions, with the majority of studies concluding positive findings. Conclusion: This review draws attention to the potential role of TCM self-care techniques, in settings outside of Asia, beyond the sole practices of t'ai chi and qigong, as an adjunct to health maintenance and recovery. Only tentative conclusions can be drawn from the existing research, however, due to variability across studies in reporting transparency and the overall low number of studies retrieved. Further research is warranted.
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