Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine

Having chosen the particular subject of Medicine for our research article, we picked up “The Right Medicine” as our article topic. With the modern advances of science, we, young adults, often ask ourselves who should we follow, scientific reason or traditional remedies? Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (??), exercise (?? ) and dietary therapy.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an empirical medicine and was developed in the old days in the absence of systemic scientific knowledge. Thus, it is a product of the accumulated clinical observations gathered over centuries of practice. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on Yingyangism ( the combination of Five Phases theory with Yin-Yang Theory). Yin and yang are ancient Chinese concepts which can be traced back to the Shang dynasty (1600–1100 BC).

They represent two abstract and complementary aspects that every phenomenon in the universe can be divided into.

Primordial analogies for these aspects are the sun-facing (yang) and the shady (yin) side of a hill. Two other commonly used representational allegories of yin and yang are water and fire. In the yin-yang theory, detailed attributions are made regarding the yin or yang character of things: Phenomenon Yin Yang Celestial Bodies Moon Sun Gender Female Male Location Inside Outside.

Temperature Cold Hot Direction Downward Upward Degree of humidity Damp/Moist Dry The concept of yin and yang is also applicable to the human body; for example, the upper part of the body and the back are assigned to yang, while the lower part of the body are believed to have the yin character.

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Yin and yang characterization also extends to the various body functions, and more importantly to disease symptoms for example cold and heat sensations are assumed to be yin and yang symptoms, respectively.

Thus, yin and yang of the body are seen as phenomena whose lack or overabundance comes with characteristic symptom combinations: Yin vacuity (also termed “vacuity-heat”): heat sensations, possible night sweats, insomnia, dry pharynx, dry mouth, dark urine, a red tongue with scant fur, and a “fine” and rapid pulse. The Yang vacuity (also termed “vacuity-cold”): aversion to cold, cold limbs, bright white complexion, long voidings of clear urine, diarrhea, pale and enlarged tongue, and a slightly weak, slow and fine pulse.

The Five Phases Theory (??), sometimes also translated as the “Five Elements” theory, presumes that all phenomena of the universe and nature can be broken down into five elemental qualities – represented by wood (? ), fire (? ), earth (? ), metal (? ), and water (? ). In this way, lines of correspondence can be drawn: Element Corresponding Organ Wood Liver Fire Heart Earth Spleen Metal Lung Water Kidney TCM’s view of the body places little emphasis on anatomical structures, but is mainly concerned with the identification of functional entities (which regulate digestion, breathing, aging etc. ).

While health is perceived as harmonious interaction of these entities and the outside world, disease is interpreted as a disharmony in interaction. TCM diagnosis consists in tracing symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, mainly by palpating the pulse and inspecting the tongue. Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced and perfected over thousands of years. Through the use of herbal concoctions, acupuncture, massage and Qigong, most every ailment and condition can be treated. Chinese medicine also focuses on disease prevention and overall health maintenance.

Acupuncture (?? ) is one of the most popular forms of TCM. It involves the use of strategically placed needles which are inserted into the skin along the points of the meridian system. This practice has proved to be effective for treating a wide range of health issues. Some of the conditions that acupuncture is used to treat include chronic pain, depression, stress, muscle tension, migraines, headaches, osteoporosis, frozen shoulder, allergies, skin conditions, infertility, insomnia and a lot more. Qigong Therapy (?? ) works to restore the flow of Qi and balance yin and yang.

Qigong therapy involves the use of certain poses and movements called Qigong exercise. It also utilizes deep breathing and may include meditation, which work to improve and restore balance. Qigong not only treats existing ailments but also helps to prevent disease and ill-health in general. Conditions treated with Qigong therapy include: headaches, PMS, insomnia, fatigue, allergies, arthritis, indigestion, kidney disease, rheumatism among others. Chinese herbal concoctions (??? ) are given in the form of teas, pills, and tonics. They typically involve a specific mix of several herbs.

There are thousands of different combinations. An herbalist will observe the patient and analyze his condition in order to prescribe a specific mixture that will benefit him exclusively. Some ailments that herbs can help include: insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, colds, kidney problems, migraines, etc.. Cupping (?? ) is a type of Chinese massage, consisting of placing several glass “cups” (open spheres) on the body. A match is lit and placed inside the cup and then removed before placing the cup against the skin.

As the air in the cup is heated, it expands, and after placing in the skin, cools, creating lower pressure inside the cup that allows the cup to stick to the skin via suction. When combined with massage oil, the cups can be slid around the back, offering “reverse-pressure massage”. It is commonly used to cure the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis and can also reduce the swelling and relieve pain. Gua Sha is abrading the skin with pieces of smooth jade, bone, animal tusks or horns or smooth stones; until red spots then bruising cover the area to which it is done.

It is believed that this treatment is for almost any ailment including cholera. The red spots and bruising take 3 to 10 days to heal, there is often some soreness in the area that has been treated. Die-da (?? ) or bone-setting is usually practiced by martial artists who know aspects of Chinese medicine that apply to the treatment of trauma and injuries such as bone fractures, sprains, and bruises.

Some of these specialists may also use or recommend other disciplines of Chinese medical therapies (or Western medicine in modern times) if serious injury is involved. Such practice of bone-setting (?? or ?? ) is not common in the West.

Another method is Chinese Food Therapy (?? ) is a practice in the belief of healing through the use of natural foods instead of medications. One of the central ideas in this belief system is that certain foods have a “hot” or heat inducing quality while others have a “cold” or chilling effect on one’s body, organs or “energy” levels. The idea being that one’s imbalance of natural “heat” and “cold” in a body can cause disease or be more conducive towards sickness.

Although, in this belief system, it does not necessarily mean one’s internal “heat” or “cold” balance is directly related to being physically hot (to the point of sweating) or cold (feeling chilly from cold weather). As an example, if one had a cold, or felt he was about to get a cold, he would not want to eat any “cold” foods such as a lemon, melon or cucumber. If one had a so-called “hot” disease, like eczema, then he would not want to eat “hot” foods such as garlic, onions, or chocolate lest the “hot” disease is worsened.

Indeed, it is thought by some that these “hot” or “cold” properties of foods are so intense that merely the eating of too many of one or another can actually cause diseases. For example, the eating of too many “hot” foods like chili peppers or lobster could cause a rash, or the eating of too many “cold” foods such as watermelon, or seaweed could cause one to develop stomach pain or diarrhea. In this way, this health system is in direct opposition to the germ theory of disease (where microbes are described as the cause of many disease states) and evidence-based medicine.

It is related to the concept of ?? “? ” nei-waixie in Chinese medicine, being more aligned with Claude Bernard, and Antoine Bechamp’s biological terrain theory of disease. This belief in foods having inherent “hot” or “cold” properties is prevalent throughout greater China. It is particularly popular among Cantonese people who enjoy slow-cooked soups. One of the most commonly known is a rice soup that goes by many names including congee and jook (Mandarin “zhou”). This is a traditional breakfast for Asian people all over the world.

Congee recipes vary infinitely, depending upon the desired health benefits as well as taste. On the other hand, Western medicine is the term used to describe the treatment of medical conditions with medications, by doctors, nurses and other conventional healthcare providers who employ methods developed according to Western medical and scientific traditions. It differs from Chinese, or alternative, medicine, in its approach to treatment, which relies heavily upon industrially produced medications and a strict adherence to the formal scientific process.

Western medicine encompasses all types of conventional medical treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and physical therapy. The practitioners of Western medicine are doctors, nurses, physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists. Generally, anyone visiting a doctor’s office or hospital will receive allopathic treatment. Western Medicine is the art and science of healing as practiced by physicians and similar professionals and encompasses all sciences related to it. It is the applied science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness in human beings. Contemporary Medicine applies health science, biomedical research, and medical technology to diagnose and treat injury and disease, typically through medication or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, protheses, biologics, ionizing radiation and others. Western medicine is subject to rigorous safety and effectiveness protocols.

Treatments and medications pass a strict review before a patient can receive them. Western medicine has a long history of safety to back up various treatment protocols. Before a new treatment or drug is approved for use on the public, it goes through an extensive testing process, first in the laboratory, and then through several layers of patient testing.

Some people become frustrated with Western medicine because the approval process for new treatments is so lengthy. Western medicine practitioners are generally willing to work with other allopathic practitioners to devise the best course of care for a particular injury or illness. One patient may have a primary care physician, a surgeon, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist.

They will share information with each other to help improve the prognosis, and reduce the potential downtime for each patient. Some of these practitioners may also be willing to work with practitioners of alternative, and Eastern medicine, though this is less common. Consider a visit to a Western trained physician for any condition that is serious or invasive.

The decision to treat a serious medical condition with alternative medicine is not a decision to make lightly. Instead, talk to a traditional doctor about any concerns about a specific treatment, and seek second opinions whenever possible. Western medicine encompasses all types of conventional medical treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and physical therapy. Conventional medicine is the mainstream medicine in the US. It involves regular medical doctors, pharmaceuticals and general medical practices such as cardiology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, etc.

Complementary and alternative medicine is a group of practices and therapies that are considered to be outside the realm of conventional medicine. As medicine evolves, some practices that were considered complementary and alternative may become a part of conventional medicine and will no longer be considered alternative. Cardiologists and general physicians now regularly use fish oil (a supplement) to reduce triglycerides and improve heart health. Although fish oil is found over the counter it is also available by prescription. It is definitely moving more into the mainstream.

Digitalis used as a leaf had been used for centuries to treat certain heart problems. Modern medicine has been using it as a regular, conventional medication (in the form of a pill of course). As medicine evolves more complementary therapies may become conventional and the two may merge into one. Conventional medicine is a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine.

In the States, there are three categories for drugs: over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions, behind-the-counter (BTC), which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor’s prescription, and prescription only medicine (POM), which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician. Surgery is an ancient medical speciality that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.

Chemotherapy, broadly speaking, is any regimen of therapy that makes use of chemicals to try to fight a disease. More specifically, it usually refers to a specific set of practices in which chemicals are used to help fight cancer. Since the widespread adoption of chemotherapy to fight cancer, the more general use of the term is rarely used outside of medical circles Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen.

Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate morbidity from infection. The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified; for example, the influenza vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and the chicken pox vaccine. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases; widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the restriction of diseases such as polio, measles, and tetanus from much of the world. Vaccination table, showing vaccines to be taken from birth till adulthood.

A surgeon might be able to reattach a limb or repair a broken bone, but it often takes physical therapy to restore a patient’s function. Physical therapy, broadly speaking, involves direct manipulation of muscles, joints and other parts of the body affected by an injury or chronic illness. It often involves strength training, heat treatments, massage and supervised exercises. Individual regimens often depend on the type of injury or condition, the patient’s age and specialized treatments prescribed by a medical professional. Physical therapy may also involve the use of braces, walkers or other mobility aids.

Patients may be encouraged to exercise the injured areas while wearing supportive devices. Water therapy may also be used to reduce the amount of weight placed on an injured limb. Therapy sessions may also duplicate the conditions patients may face at work or home during a typical day. But with all that talk, we asked ourselves, what is the difference between Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. When going to the doctor’s or the hospital in China, a normal observation by a doctor is centered around “???? ” which means observation, auscultation and smelling, interrogation and palpitation.

The doctor will firstly observe the patient’s mental state, complexion, then look at his/her tongue, this being an important part of the observation (? ). The doctor will also listen to any particular sound or smell produced by the patient which is part of the “? ”. “? ” means asking patients questions about the patient’s condition and finally “? ” involves taking the patient’s pulse. “???? ” provides the Chinese doctor with all of the information he needs to make a diagnosis, simple but very straightforward method that has been working for more than 2000 years.

In the US, a normal observation by a doctor would start with checking the patient’s vitals, which would mean taking the pulse, using a stethoscope to check your lungs and respiratory system. Also a nurse would usually also come and take a vial of the patient’s blood for a blood test. An X-ray may also been required or an MRI depending on the patient’s symptoms. In addition to the diagnosis differences, we also came up with a series of differences between Chinese and Western medicine. The table below is a compilation of all our findings.

Chinese Medicine Western Medicine Key Beliefs Qi is life. Qi is heart of medicine. Life and Medicine are one. Humans can control nature. Foreign invader causes illness. Control of symptoms leads to a cure of disease. Health A state of well being in which the body is vital, balanced ; adaptive to its environment. Absence of disease, pain, defect, or symptoms of illness. Illness Sickness Disease Disharmony/ Imbalance and loss of adaptability (a defect of function/energy). Any deviation of the body from its normal or healthy state. A defect of tissue or structure.

A destructive process with a specific cause and characteristic symptoms, a particular disorder. Symptoms Manifestation of the body’s attempt to heal itself, therefore, messages, signals of unattended, underlying issues; or signs that something needs balancing. Manifestation of the disease, therefore, they are disagreeable phenomena to be eliminated or suppressed. Causes of Illness Any action/force which interferes with the balance and movement of bio-energy: one’s constitution, psyche, lifestyle, trauma, environmental stress (nature or human).

A foreign invader, an extraneous force or pathogen: distinct entities with unique causes originating outside the body for every clinical disorder. Multiple Causes Illness is the end result of multiple insults to the body. Singular causes for each disorder/or disease. Progression of illness Four stages of illness from energy imbalances causing functional changes that can initiate a progression of chronic illness preceding pathological changes in tissue. A progression of a particular disease is noted, but only disorders of form and structure (morphology) are recognized, not progression of functionality into structure.

Model of Medicine Man as ecosystem, a garden; harmony. Man as machine; conflict. Physician As gardener, assistant: to cultivate life, to help patient get/stay well. As mechanic: to fix what is broken. Diagnosis: Understanding the Illness Perceiving the relationships between all the patients signs and symptoms. Uncovering a disease entity separate from the patient’s being. Treatment Preventing illness by balancing disharmonious energy and counselling lifestyle management. Curing named disease and suppressing symptoms through drugs or surgery.

Science Of observation and experimentation, the original science, of anciently understood Einsteinian physics and quantum field mechanics where E=MC2. Of reduction and induction, analytic and controlled science, of a mechanical Newtonian physics, long ago proved wrong at the cosmic & sub-molecular levels. Measure for diagnosis Human senses: pulse, tongue, eyes, colouring. Laboratory equipment. Mind-Body relation Mind and body are one, inextricably interconnected. All medicine is psychosomatics. Mind and body are separate and not necessarily connected.

Key limitations Dependent on harmony with nature, it was not developed to deal with the worst of Western life: overwhelming and unprecedented environmental pollution, iatrogenic illness, and consequences of the Western philosophy of individualism and the controlling and defeating nature. Unaware of energy-based physiology (Qi), it therefore cannot detect, classify, measure or alter its effects in its beginning stages of illness. From this flaw stem not only the remaining differences listed above, but the worst consequences of western medicine? regularly and inevitably, it harms people.

Key Strengths Prevention, handling chronic illness and self-care: Because it recognizes the key role of lifestyle and the psyche in energetic changes that can progress toward illness. Handling structural defects: trauma and life-threatening illnesses. In the end, we believed that there was no better medicine. Both Chinese and Western medicine have their pros and cons. In the US, they have nearly to no knowledge of Traditional medicine.

After passing around a survey, we realised that americans generally know a bit about acupuncture and some even showed interest into trying TCM. The choice of whether they would try TCM or not was not based upon the table of differences we showed them or talked about, it was based on their personal beliefs, background and culture. In China, Western medicine has been been used more regularly by Chinese people who are more for a quick recover than one that can take longer.

Young adults are more westernised now and often request for the “modern medicine”. Even when having a fever, some of them prefer getting UV’s instead of going for a more natural approach.

This is according to me, the main problem that needs to be addressed. I believe that the perfect scenario would be the balance of both Traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Sometimes the other may be less invasive than the latter which may be better for the patient. I hope that after our presentation that day that we did influence some of our teammates and the people present on that day. If the next time they are at the doctor’s and just for a second think twice of which treatment is the best for them, then I believe that my job has been well done.

References: 1. World Health Organization (online 2002) WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005 [http://whqlibdoc. who. int/hq/2002/WHO_EDM_TRM_2002. 1. pdf] (accessed 11 December 2006) 2. White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. [http://www. whccamp. hhs. gov/finalreport. html] 3. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Five year strategic plan. [http://nccam. nih. gov/about/plans/fiveyear/fiveyear. pdf] 4. Rao JK et al. (1999) Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients of rheumatologists.

Ann Intern Med 131: 409-416 5. Angell M and Kassirer JP (1998) Alternative medicine—the risks of untested and unregulated remedies. N Engl J Med 339: 839-841 6. Ebell MH et al. (2004) Strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT): a patient-centered approach to grading evidence in the medical literature. Am Fam Physician 69: 548-556 7. Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. wwong110@hkucc. hku. hk 8. www. EzineArticles. com/1993132 9. wikipedia: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

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Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine. (2018, Aug 08). Retrieved from

Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine
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