Western Medicine has many important modern tools of diagnosis, such as an x-ray. TCM cannot confirm conclusively the presence of a brain tumour, or elevated liver enzymes, but it may detect a disharmony requiring further investigation and referral to a G.P. TCM is generally better for treating functional problems rather than structural ones, so it cannot surgically remove a brain tumour, but may help to regulate liver function, or treat a cyst on the ovaries.
Another good example is spinal disc protrusion. If the spine is pulled out of alignment due to trauma or soft tissue spasm, Acupuncture can help to calm the spasm, strengthen the flaccid or weaker areas, and regulate the blood flow through the tissues, so that the spine may re-align naturally. But if the disc itself is ruptured (structurally), this is better treated with surgery.
TCM also has the advantage of treating subjective problems with no apparent cause in western medicine. And can resolve a minor problem before it becomes a major one and have a positive impact on quality of life; (this is preventative medicine).Most practitioners observe the subjective and objective data (e.g. x-ray reports) together. Using traditional knowledge, modern research, and all available information, modern practitioners work out a treatment protocol relevant to the individual. In severe cases a consultation with a G.P. will be recommended if not already done so.
So in the general community we view TCM as "complementary" rather than "alternative" medicine. In modern China both western and eastern medicine are used together for optimal results for the patient. Modern research tells us that Acupuncture tends to have a "bi-phasic" effect on the body. This means that it tends to regulate the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, such as the circulatory, nervous and endocrine systems. This research supports the traditional knowledge of "balance" within the body. So, a blood pressure regulating acu-point may reduce B.P. when it is high, but the same point may increase B.P. when it is low (with one exception).