Updated: May 6
Does a system of medicine with its roots in such metaphysics as yin yang theory have anything to communicate to western science/medicine?
The question is often asked whether a system of medicine with its roots in such metaphysics as yin yang theory has anything to communicate to western science/medicine?
Chinese medicine (especially acupuncture) has achieved growing acceptance on the fringe of western medicine/culture.
Acupuncture is an object of widespread curiosity and some attempts have been made to integrate some of its techniques into western medical practice, to the point that in some areas of society Chinese medicine is “in vogue”.
People have inflated expectations about medicine with the Doctor of “Oriental” medicine all too easily becoming a focus for people hoping for a cure-‐all, an infallible elixir or sideshow.
Western medicine is rooted in a society whose routine processes not only provoke stress,they contaminate the environment to such an extent that new comforts often conceal a new threat to life.
Chinese medicine offers a different vision of health and disease. It attempts to treat illness within the context of an individual’s total physical, psychological being and environment, with the remedies balanced to a patient’s entire state of being.
Modern health care too often avoids seeing humans as unique organic beings. Consequently much that is humanly and medically effective remains to be discovered or has been lost.
No Chinese physician (or person for that matter) can fail to be awed by the achievements of western medicine.
For example antibiotics or surgical techniques can penetrate to the core of disorders that Chinese medicine finds intractable and complex.
Western medicine is clear, precise and definitive. Its technology and precision allows swift intervention, which can be crucial in life threatening situations, yet many illnesses elude it.
Modern western and traditional Chinese medicine are two discrete systems of theory and practice that have complementary strengths and weaknesses. Can either absorb anything of real consequence from the other?
For science to remain science, it must believe what it discovers tomorrow may undermine or revolutionise everything it believes today. There is hope that the metaphysical Taoist spirit of inter-‐relatednes will illuminate the places that evade the western model.
The western book of medicine, because it is constantly changing, may yet include traditional Chinese medical concepts.
For those readers who may want a better understanding of traditional Chinese medicine I thoroughly recommend The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuck. It is available through the municipal library.