I see Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine a complementary. Too few of us are taught as children to listen to our bodies and understand our constitution and support ourselves, so it is no wonder that we end up depressed and anxious or sick or unable to sustain relationships.
Western scientific medicine is foundered on a culture which experienced the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, the ‘Age of Reason’ and rational Greek Philosophy. Mind and Body were separated in a Cartesian split and as such diseases were either physical or psychological.
Systems biology or Functional Medicine is the closest that Western Medicine comes to describe the interconnectivity and interdependence of the components of the body system. New, more detailed understandings of how the genetic, protein, metabolite, cellular and pathway events that are always in flux and interdependent are being described.
Chinese Medicine is an ancient and classical paradigm of systems biology. It is however empirical medicine. It individualises treatment to the patient and is orientated towards treating the patient’s underlying condition. Rational medicine or Western medicine is mechanistic and disease rather than patient centred.
I have great value and respect for Western medicine in acute care. I come from a family with doctors, pharmacists and pathologists and my husband is a veterinary surgeon. Western Medicine has the capacity to diagnose and track physical changes through blood tests, ultra-sound, x-ray, MRI, CAT and PET scans etc. Surgery saves lives and medication that manages pain, inflammation, regulates blood pressure, blood sugar or hormones, kills bacteria and targets cancer cells buys us time.
The challenge for patients who already have a diagnosis of illness is to use the time Western Medicine buys them to explore the treatments and tools offered first by Chinese Medicine and more recently by Functional Medicine and DNA testing to become self-aware and to make the choice to support their whole Selves. If this choice is made, a person has the chance to activate a recovery process and at the very least, limit the disease trajectory.