Practitioners of Eastern medicine have a different focus than practitioners of Western medicine. This stems from many years of healers on both sides of the world developing their own methods and philosophies in healing.
Eastern Medical Focus
Those who practice East Asian medicine, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, have a strong focus on prevention of disease through various practices such as Qigong, Tai chi, and meditation. The idea is based on the premise that we all have an energy force called “qi” that helps our organs and body systems function better. By regularly practicing these practices, along with acupuncture, which is said to stimulate the flow of qi energy in the body, the various diseases that can occur do not happen.
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use the above practices in order to prevent diseases from happening all together and to promote total body wellness. They believe that people who are already healthy should engage in these practices in order to stay healthy and free of disease.
Western Medical Focus
Until very recently, the practitioners of Western medicine have focused on the treatment of diseases that have already happened. There has been, for example, more research into treating type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease once the person has developed the disease with less of a focus on trying to prevent these diseases from occurring.
Consider holistic medicine for a moment, the holistic approach is to treat the entire person, mind, body, and spirit, and focuses on returning the whole person to a place of wellness. Conversely, Western medicine looks at symptoms, and treating the disease, not necessarily the person. This typically means either a prescription, or surgery to target the main problem, instead of addressing any underlying causes or issues that may have caused the disease to begin with.
While Western medicine is probably a step ahead of Eastern medicine when it comes to the science of healing illnesses, there has been less attention paid to prevention and targeting the holistic wellness of patients.
Bringing the Two Modalities Together
Eastern and Western medical practices began to come together when missionaries from the West traveled to the east in the 18th and 19th centuries. By the beginning of the 1900s, Western medical schools began cropping up in China, spreading their knowledge to Chinese culture.
It wasn’t, however until the latter part of the 20th century that Westerners began to look at the possible benefits of the various Eastern practices, including Qigong, Tai chi, meditative practices, and acupuncture. Surprisingly, it was found that both types of medicine—East and West—were found to help people heal and feel better. In fact, they found that both of these practices could be helpful in preventing and curing illnesses.
Now the potential has become a reality and both Eastern and Western medical practices are used in the management of several kinds of disease.
Westerners are recognizing the advantages of preventing disease and strengthening the body against disease with natural methods and regular practice of such, while Easterners are benefitting from the research and knowledge Western doctors have discovered and are still practicing.
Western doctors now have the opportunity to “prescribe” acupuncture for the management of disease and have begun to see the benefits of exercises like Tai chi and Qigong.
These Eastern practices have been shown to regulate sleep, lessen pain, and decrease the side effects of Western medications, among other things. While there are still those who practice just one form of medicine, more and more doctors are trying to incorporate elements of Western medical practices and traditional Chinese medicine.
Patients have also become to embrace the coalition of these two medical practices. Why is this so?
Partly, these practices have become popular because they actually work. Acupuncture works to correct pain disorders and disorders of other parts of the body. Tai chi improves overall health and has been shown to delay the effects of aging, including the improved flexibility, coordination, posture, and memory. Tai Chi is also very effective in fighting stress that in turn provides a wide variety of health benefits.
More and more people are looking to maintain their level of health and wellness as a preventative method instead of waiting for the diagnosis bomb to drop and dealing with treatment.
Research studies or what’s called “evidence-based medicine” has been the mainstream of Western medical science. Now that these have been applied successfully to Eastern medical practice, doctors are beginning to use these practices and to recognize that prevention of disease is at least as important (if not more so) than the treatment of already established diseases.