I approach medicine and healing with some basic ideas grounding my practice. The first idea is that our body's naturally heal, we don't have to do anything in most cases after an injury or sickness and things will get better because as living creatures we have ample resources to heal as long as we have good nutrition, adequate rest and healthy environments. We don't have to chant any special incantations or take special medicines or have parts of our bodies cut off and replaced. If a person gets a cold, most of the time they will get better given enough time and rest.
Most people that I see in my practice aren't getting better however on their own or not getting better fast enough, perhaps there body is keeping them in a situation where things are getting worse but perhaps they have reached a stalemate in recovery due to a number of factors. Usually in my experience they are combination of the normal factors that support health being imbalanced in some way, perhaps the food quality or quantity is incorrect (too much food, not enough proper nutrients, the stress levels are too high or constant, environment is not healthy (too much time indoors in crowded situations), activity levels not appropriate or varied enough, old injuries were poorly handled so not fully healed. In some cases there are genetic/ancestral aspects that lead to problems as well.
Unlike Western medicine, which tends to solve most issues with medications and surgery. I like to look at causative lifestyle factors first as well as use the tools at my disposal (acupuncture, tui na, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle guidance) to help people get back to healing to the best of their abilities. Admittedly in some cases this also means accessing Western medications and surgery if this is clearly the route to recovery (ruptured discs rarely...if ever magically fix themselves and broken bones sometimes need to be set, sometimes a medication will also keep you alive or mentally sane to give your body a chance to recover on it's own; I don't discount these methods and think that they are useful).
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine work with your body's innate ability to heal. Acupuncture provides a unique stimulus to the body that creates a cascade of effects, most of which are out of my control, that helps the body to better regulate itself and heal. In general the healthier you are overall the quicker and stronger your response to acupuncture.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is similar to Western medicine in some ways because they both work through ingesting medicinal substances. Chinese Herbal medicine however differs in that medicinal formulas are prescribed by pattern discrimination (basically the collection of symptoms that you present including your main complaint but also reflected in the functioning/dysfunctions of all other systems of the body, not just one system, so that we say we treat the whole person, not just the complaint). It is also different from Western medicine because the substances used are in their natural complex forms as they occur in nature or in their safe processed states, not isolated to single chemical compounds, and they are always used in combination with other herbs in a herbal formula complex to treat the diagnosed pattern(s).
In my experience and the experience of many other practitioners side effects from properly prescribed Chinese medicine formulas are rare, likely both from the synergistic effects of the herbs used in combination and they are prescribed to treat the patient's overall presenting pattern(s) versus single symptom treatment of Western medicine which often disregards any difference between patients, except perhaps via dosing quantity, or by experience through patients having negative side-effects from medications and needing to try different classes of medication until they find one they can tolerate.
I agree with Nassim Taleb in the concept most people need to remove harmful influences/excesses from their lives more than they need to add new things, such as medications to regain their health. No one has a Tylenol, or Metformin deficiency but many people are currently dependent on such medications for their day to day comfort or existence. We are also often easily out of touch with the natural patterns of life on many levels and long term estrangement from these habits and connections to our environments over time to lead disarray in our health and mental states.
A few things that almost all of us can improve on for our general health.
1)Reduction of consumption of sugar and other sweeteners. Sugar in nature is a scarce high caloric resource and one that is relatively hard to come by which is why our brains and our mouths crave the taste and have no real easy signal to tell us when to stop eating this taste, because we have made this resource very easy and cheap to acquire in our modern environments and our minds treat this as scarce resource to gorge on, we have to use our own minds and actions to limit its intake to more closely imitate the actual availability to that of pre-industrial agricultural times (the average american as of 2012 consumed 120 lbs of sugar per year)