By Caroline Baker
I recently got into a conversation with another person about Eastern and Western medicine and their differences. This spurred me to realize how few understand the delicate balance that can be maintained between both.
Many folks outside of China or not directly in experience with modern-day Chinese doctors miss the fact that Chinese medicine is really a combination of many techniques together. Many of the Chinese doctors you may encounter these days also have a doctoral degree in Western medicine.
Too often, we think in absolutes. One Or The Other. Never In Between. No treatment ever has to be that way. But there are limitations.
Roughly translated from conversations with my parents, the purpose of Chinese Medicine is to detoxify the body, cleanse it of foreign substances. Poisons that prohibit the body to heal itself are removed from the body.
Now, those familiar with most cancer treatments will understand that this is in direct contrast to Western treatments for this disease. The premise behind chemotherapy is to “kill” or “poison” the “bad” cells from the body. Thus, often those that try to do both Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine to treat cancer end up nullifying their own attempts.
On the other hand, the two can very much be complimentary. While there are exceptions, Chinese Medicine tends to work slower, on the long-term cure. Western Medicine tends to be more immediate, promising “next day” service. There are some practitioners that are now using this combination to give both immediate relief and long-term results for their patients.
A good example of this is with pain. A Chinese doctor may prescribe a painkiller to relieve the patient from immediate pain and then an herbal brew to strengthen the body.
Finally, merely because something is Chinese Medicine, one cannot assume it is always safe.
ANY medicine, when taken for extended periods of time, will have side effects.
There are some Chinese Medicines that are literally “poisons” to the body and must be taken sparingly. A good example of this is the mushroom drink that was popular some 5 years ago. It called for folks to drink the excretion from a mushroom plant (which I can tell you from personally experience tasted horrible!).
The best advice I’ve heard from anywhere is to KNOW YOURSELF. Get to know your body and what it’s telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you don’t see improvements, don’t continue. This is true for ANY type of medical practice out there.
Caroline Baker enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction. She is a contributing editor at Suite101’s The Internet Society and has had her work featured in Futures magazine and MochaMemoirs e-Zine. As well as being a writer, she is a freelance web designer and studying to become a tai chi teacher. You can find more information on her at: Caroline Baker.