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Chinese Medicine And Western Medicine Distinction

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In China, where Western medicine and TCM are deemed equal, and medical students from both systems are required to have basic knowledge of the other medical system, there is generally greater integration in the approach. In other places, where complementary medicine is still regarded with a huge dose of scepticism, patients can find it more difficult to benefit from both systems.
 

Western Medicine

Physicians, no matter whether they are traditional Chinese medical practitioners or doctors of western medicine, may belong to somewhat different times, have dissimilar cultural backgrounds, and are used to thinking somehow in not the same way. This fact is reflected in their methods of treating patients. Their diagnostic methods may be somewhat different; there may be dissimilarities in their cognition and methods of treating patients, and even their prescriptions may differ from each other. What is the same of them is their aim, their sole aim, which is to cure patients' diseases and alleviate their suffering.

Obviously, the biggest dividing line in logical thinking between traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine consists in epistemology. Traditional Chinese medicine looks upon the whole universe as one organism; and since the universe is an organism, all things in it are related to each other without exception by being interdependent, mutually restraining, balanced and in harmony. Owing to the fact that man is also looked upon as a "universe", though on a small scale, the view is entertained that between the internal organs of the human body there also exist the requirement for equilibrium between yin and yang and the phenomenon of mutual reinforcement and mutual neutralization. Traditional Chinese medicine, having gone through a process of development of thousands of years, has succeeded in sublimating from an empirical type of medicine to a systematic one with its unique and peculiar theory and its complete and comprehensive methodology. It is the embodiment of the typical Eastern mode of thinking.

However, there are certain limitations to this methodology, because the processes of abstract thinking and logical reasoning are comparatively too great in number, resulting in a lack of concreteness and definiteness. Similarly, Western medicine also suffers obvious limitations because its basic theory is not closely related to philosophy. It adopts a certain purely biological point of view and, therefore, does not pay enough attention to how natural environment and psychological factors influence the illness and health of mankind.

The divergence between traditional Chinese medical scholars and doctors of Western medicine in their views of the organs of the human body arises from

Chinese Medicine

the difference in their research methods. For instance, Western scholars dissected the human body and by this means found the position of the heart, located the blood vessels in the heart, distinguished the arteries from the veins, and came at the two arteries that originate in the aorta and supply blood direct to the heart tissues---the coronary arteries. They saw that the heart has two atria and two ventricles, both pairs of which are separated by valves. They went on further with their work of dissection and discovered the sinoatrial node, the atrioventricular node, and the atrioventricular bundle---those strictures that control the rhythm of the heartbeat. Thus they acquired a basic acquaintance with the functions of the heart.

Although traditional Chinese medical scholars also engaged in dissections of the human body, this did not lead to establishment of the foundation of understanding by traditional Chinese medicine of the physiological functions and pathological states of the human body. For example, traditional Chinese medical scholars' knowledge of the existence of the pericardium is derived from dissections done in former times. But traditional Chinese medical scholars' knowledge of the functions of the heart organ was gained through observation and generalization of the outward manifestations of the physiological and pathological states of the human body.

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