Open mind to TCM will be re­ward­ing for health

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

TheWestern world should learn to value the trea­sures of tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine as a branch of science. Al­though Tu Youyou, a win­ner of the 2015 No­bel Prize in Phys­i­ol­ogy orMedicine, was ap­plauded in Stockholm when she de­clared that “the dis­cov­ery of artemisinin is a gift to mankind from Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine”; not all agreed with her view.

Even some at home pointed out the Chi­nese phar­ma­col­o­gist and her team used bio-chem­i­cal means to ex­tract the ac­tive com­pound artemisinin from sweet worm­wood half a cen­tury ago.

Yet Tu’s in­spi­ra­tion is deeply rooted in thou­sands of years of TCM prac­tice. The book that in­spired her work, Hand­book of Pre­scrip­tions for Emer­gen­cies (Zhouhou Beiji Fang), can be dated back to at least theHan Dy­nasty (206 BC–AD 220).

In fact, apart from treat­ing viruses, TCM has been most ef­fec­tive in pre­dict­ing diseases, cul­ti­vat­ing fit­ness, treat­ing chronic, dif­fi­cult, multi-source ill­nesses, and us­ing non-medic­i­nal meth­ods such as acupunc­ture and breath­ing ex­er­cises.

Its sci­en­tific the­o­ries of yin and yang, the five el­e­ments, jingluo cy­cles (merid­ian chan­nels) and pulse feel­ings, though not nec­es­sar­ily proven by cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, have been en­cap­su­lated in many pop­u­lar Chi­nese say­ings and id­ioms over the cen­turies.

One say­ing, “treat­ing the head in case of headache and the feet in case of foot pain” refers not only to sub-par doc­tors but also in­ef­fec­tive prob­lem-solv­ing with­out trac­ing the root causes.

And the say­ing, “treat­ing not the tu­mor af­ter see­ing a tu­mor”, re­flects the holis­tic ap­proach of TCM which upholds the prin­ci­ple of di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment on the ba­sis of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing symp­toms from a per­son’s over­all con­di­tion.

The dif­fer­ences in ap­proaches are fun­da­men­tal. In the West, the term health of­ten means bod­ily sta­tis­tics within a nor­mal range, but in TCM it means the sus­tain­able con­di­tion of a healthy hu­man body.

Western medicine be­lieves in us­ing surgery and chem­i­cal or bi­o­log­i­cal com­pounds to re­move and elim­i­nate ab­nor­mal symp­toms, the very tar­get of its ap­proach.

TCM takes the healthy body as a bal­anced and well­co­or­di­nated whole, not only among its own parts but also with the liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment. In this sense, the hu­man body may be seen as a su­per­com­puter with the body parts as the hard­ware and the jingluo cy­cles as its op­er­a­tional soft­ware, all pow­ered and or­ches­trated by the cir­cu­la­tion of blood and qi (life en­ergy force) through the body.

In treat­ing sick­ness, TCM tends to cul­ti­vate the body’s abil­ity to self-re­pair and re­cu­per­ate.

It is com­mon to see el­derly pa­tients take home dozens of kinds of medicine for mul­ti­ple diseases from sev­eral hos­pi­tal di­vi­sions af­ter aWestern-style check-up and treat­ment. Yet a TCM doc­tor will likely pre­scribe a cer­tain com­pound of herbs for all the symp­toms with mi­nor ad­just­ments later de­pend­ing on the changes in a pa­tient’s con­di­tion.

The ap­proaches and meth­ods of TCM may seem strange to many in theWestern world; but the de facto primer of TCM, The In­ner Clas­sic of the Yel­low Em­peror (Huangdi Nei­jing), was writ­ten thou­sands of years ago, long be­fore the es­tab­lish­ment of many fields ofWestern medicine. The TCM meth­ods thus de­rived have proven fea­si­ble and ef­fec­tive and de­serve global reflections on their more wide­spread use.

What is com­mon sense for or­di­nary Chi­nese is not ex­cluded from the ac­cep­tance of ex­perts and pro­fes­sion­als in theWest as long as they free their minds of skep­ti­cism and prej­u­dice.

They can eas­ily find that TCM is con­ve­niently ac­ces­si­ble, ready to wel­come out­siders, pleas­ant to ap­ply and gen­er­ous in its re­wards to health.

The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. wen­zong­duo@163.com

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