Three Myths About Chinese Medicine

What associations do you have when you hear the phrase “Chinese medicine”? What is it-Oriental exotics, fashion trend or serious science? And is it true that Chinese doctors use only ancient methods, without the help of modern equipment? Let’s find out where the truth is and where the myths are.

Is it true that Chinese medicine is a set of methods and approaches diametrically opposed to European?

No, it’s a myth. In fact, despite certain differences between traditional Chinese and European medicine, they are not isolated or opposed to each other. Chinese doctors know, including new methods of diagnosis, use the achievements of modern science in their practice.

But the differences do exist. Western medicine has long gone on the path of separation, deepening: every doctor is a specialist in his narrow field. If we have a stomach ache — we go to the gastroenterologist; worried about heart pain-turn to the cardiologist; with the problems of the nervous system go to the neurologist and so on. Often this approach is justified, and many diseases are successfully cured. But not all.

Three Myths About Chinese Medicine

In turn, Eastern (including Chinese) medicine considers the human body as a single system, where everything is interconnected. The Chinese doctor does not have a narrow specialization in the usual sense — he treats not a specific organ, but the cause of the disease, affects its origins. This is what helps to cure many ailments — including some of those that are considered chronic in the European tradition.

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Is it true that Chinese doctors use the methods of non-traditional, traditional medicine, while European medicine uses the achievements of science?

And this is also a false statement. Traditional Chinese medicine is a science that has a history of more than one Millennium. It is believed that the first medical treatise was written by the legendary Emperor Shen-Nun collection of descriptions of medicinal substances and medicinal plants. Dated this document 3216 BC, unfortunately, aware of it only from later sources — the work itself has not survived; the first extant Chinese books on medicinal plants is dated 2500 BC, and contains descriptions of 900 herbs. There are also sculptures, which marked acupuncture points and meridians — and the age of these “visual AIDS” is also measured in millennia!

But it is not only the age of the sources that is important. It is important that this knowledge from century to century accumulated and multiplied, forming a coherent system. Chinese medicine did not know the persecution to which European science was subjected in the middle Ages, and later avoided the division into “official” and “folk” medicine, combining centuries-old wisdom with the latest scientific developments. And today, Chinese doctors help patients, based on ancient traditions, and on the achievements of world science; they use in their practice and old techniques, and the possibilities of modern medical technologies.

Three Myths About Chinese Medicine

But it should be understood that these features do not exclude the use of laboratory results, x-rays or MRI data. The Chinese doctor will not limit himself to them-but will not deny these possibilities of diagnosis.

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Is it true that the popularity of Chinese medicine is just a tribute to the modern fashion for everything Eastern?

That’s not so. In fact, the interest of Europeans in Chinese medicine is not a trend of the time, not a fashionable hobby of our days. Two traditions, two schools — Western and Eastern — have long interacted, and this is a two-way process. We have already said that Chinese medicine uses, among other things, modern medical equipment and scientific knowledge. But European doctors also borrow the experience of their Eastern colleagues, study the ancient traditions of China.

For example, the Chinese technique known to many today — acupuncture — has long been the subject of close attention of Western medical science, which not only explores its possibilities, but also applies them in practice. And many medicinal plants, since ancient times used in China, were borrowed by other countries and are successfully used, including official medicine.

Three Myths About Chinese Medicine

But does this mean that the borrowed techniques work the same, and therefore it does not matter which doctor to contact? No. X-ray will not replace the Chinese doctor of traditional diagnostic methods, and the European reflexologist, trained in Western methods, uses acupuncture not as his Chinese colleague, who absorbed not only knowledge, but the ancient philosophy. Heals not method, not the device and not” wonderful ” drug — heals a doctor with the necessary experience and theoretical training.

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