Both Chinese medicine and Western medicine have been around for thousands of years, and in that time, they’ve each developed their own theory, perspective, and treatment methods. Millions of patients rely on both disciplines, and some patients rely on a combination of the two. Blending West and East has become more popular in recent years, to the point where many practitioners utilize both in treating a variety of diseases and ailments.
While they may seem too different to work together at first, Chinese and western medicine are almost perfectly complementary in practice. That means even if you do see a doctor regularly, you may have additional treatment options available through the lens of Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is no longer just practiced in China but is now available to western patients who want more from their treatment. In fact, many patients find additional relief and better health by adding Chinese medicine to their health regimen.
Western Medicine Targets Specific Conditions, Chinese Medicine Treats the Whole Body
What makes western and Chinese medicine so complementary, though? It starts at the highest level – what each form of medicine’s treatment philosophy looks like. Here’s a (very) simplified version of each:
Western medicine aims to arrive at a targeted diagnosis, taking into account the patient’s medical history and symptoms. Western medicine considers organs and organ systems to be discrete, which can make it difficult to diagnose systemic conditions. However, western medicine’s deduction-based approach allows practitioners to develop detailed diagnoses and treatment protocols when a compartmentalized approach makes more sense. Treating cancer, for example, requires the kind of targeted application of science-based medicine that western-trained doctors offer.
Chinese medicine doesn’t target individual organs or organ systems like western medicine does. Instead, it treats the body as one interconnected system, where each organ depends on each other to maintain optimal whole-body health. Promising research into Chinese medicine practices, including acupuncture services, often concerns systemic conditions, like chronic pain, fatigue, or unbalanced organ function. This makes Chinese medicine an excellent source of support therapies, even if it isn’t as effective as western medicine at spotting the development of acute conditions.
Western Medicine Resolves Symptoms, Chinese Medicine Prioritizes Disease Prevention
Western and Chinese medicine both aim to improve patient wellness, but they approach this goal from different angles. Here’s what that means from a practice standpoint:
Western medicine responds to the emergence of disease symptoms and features, along with their effects on quality of life. Western doctors gather medical information from their patients, perform tests, and consult studies and other relevant data before rendering a diagnosis. In general, this diagnosis is meant to establish a method of care.
Chinese medicine takes less interest in responding to acute problems and more interest in preventing them in the first place. Disease prevention is the goal, and in order to do that, Chinese medicine focuses on maintaining the body’s balance. According to its principles, if one of the body’s systems is unwell, it will eventually cause changes in other systems that lead to illness. Chinese medicine seeks to maintain optimal function among all of the body’s systems, which reduces the risk of disease.
Western and Chinese Medicine use Different Treatments, but Their Goal is the Same
Western and Chinese medicine approach medicine from different perspectives, so it only makes sense that they use different treatment tools. These also complement each other, and there’s room for both for many patients, especially those suffering from chronic conditions. Here’s how each discipline approaches treatment:
Western medicine has revolutionized healthcare with its use of single-molecule drugs. These medications target specific parts of the body and are intended to counter disease symptoms or resolve underlying conditions. The medications produced by western medicine undergo extensive safety analyses and research, the results of which are published in peer-reviewed journals. However, even though these medications go through extensive study and safety trials, side effects can be a problem for some people.
Chinese medicine relies on treatments that address whole-body health and respect the interconnected nature of the body’s systems. While western medicine relies on refined, single-molecule medications, Chinese medicine practitioners prefer the use of herbs, moxibustion, acupuncture and hot cupping – among other procedures. Many of these therapies can be incorporated into a larger health regimen without risk.
Western and Chinese Medicine are Now Combined for Better Treatment Efficacy
Preserving health and wellness is a challenge. Western and Chinese medicine have approached this challenge from different angles. However, while their perspectives and philosophies may be different, they both provide answers for better health.
A surge in research concerning Chinese medicine has shown that many of its treatments are effective. This is especially true when Chinese medicine is used to support patients dealing with long-term health problems. Acupuncture, for example, is associated with better outcomes for patients suffering from chronic pain, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular conditions, anxiety, and many other systemic issues. Acupuncture is also safe, so it can be explored as a potential option for relief even in patients receiving standard, western-based care.
And this is how many doctors are approaching the blend of western and Chinese medicine in their practices. By combining the precision analysis and treatment delivery of western medicine, and the whole-body approach of Chinese medicine, every avenue can be taken in maximizing patient outcomes.