Eastern and Western Approaches to Medicine

What is Eastern Medicine?

Eastern medicine, also known as Oriental medicine or traditional Chinese medicine, is the oldest codified system of medicine in the world. It refers to a range of medical practices that originated throughout Asia.

Here are five major branches of Oriental Medicine:

  1. Acupuncture
  2. Chinese herbal medicine
  3. Oriental nutrition and dietary therapy
  4. Tuina or oriental bodywork
  5. Tai chi and qi gong (mind-body-spirit practice)

The basic philosophy of Eastern medicine practitioners is to treat the whole person—encouraging a healthy body to prevent illness and speed recovery.

What is Western Medicine?

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Western medicine can be defined as: “A system in which medical doctors and other health care professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.”

The history of Western medicine stretches back thousands of years—similar to Eastern medicine. The ancient Greeks were the first to look at the body from a human biological perspective. Hippocrates of Cosis often credited as the Father of Western Medicine because of his scientific descriptions of many diseases and their treatments.

This is sometimes referred to as allopathic medicine or conventional medicine. The primary focus of Western medicine is to identify and treat specific conditions to allow the patient to recover.

What is the Difference between Eastern and Western Medicine?

Western medicine tends to focus on diagnosing and treating a disease or illness based on a patient’s symptoms.

Eastern medicine considers both patient’s symptoms and an individualized diagnosis of a patient’s Qi (or chi). Based on various diagonstic procedures like checking the pulse and tongue, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses complex patterns of disharmony or imbalance within the body to determine a diagnosis usually as it relates to the whole person.

Diagnostic indicators are always viewed holistically to accurately assess physical and emotional imbalances of internal organs and restore a patient’s Qi, thereby encouraging health and healing.

Oriental medicine (i.e. Eastern Medicine) practitioners use natural forms of treatment that typically include herbs, acupuncture, nutrition, mind/body exercise (e.g., tai chi, yoga), or massage, whereas Western medicine practitioners often recommend pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, surgery, or psychological counseling, etc.

This article appeared on: National University of Health Sciences by
Dr. Zhanxiang Wang (September, 4, 2020)

We will dive closer and deeper into the topic of Eastern Medicine in the coming articles.
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