The Relationship of Acupuncture and Western Medicine

| March 30, 2010 | 0 Comments | 185 views

Nearly all of us have grown up with the same kind of medical treatments, and go to the doctor when we have a sore throat or a sore foot. American doctors, and in general, western medicine, have always been interested in the structure of the body, and how each individual organ structure should look when it is healthy. The tools western medicine have developed have been to see these structures better: the microscope, MRIs, and the x-ray camera. In contrast, Chinese medicine, the basis for acupuncture, has been interested in how natural forces, functioning both externally and internally, have affected people. Chinese medicine developed an understanding about how the circulation of blood and energy (called Qi) affect the state of health, and how seasons, emotions, and weather may disturb these flows. The result of this is that western medicine has developed a remarkable array of solutions based on anatomy, whereas the science behind acupuncture has developed many applications of a few basic principles based on physiology.

This study of health also is reflected in the analysis of body chemistry. Western medicine is again interested in the structure of many different fluids, and can tell you what the normal range for sodium ions is, or what shape red blood cells should and should not be. Chinese medicine and acupuncture focuses on Qi energy, the circulation of Qi, polarities (such as Yin and Yang), climatic conditions, and the connection between physical substances and energy. Chinese medicine considers fluids and tissues important, but mainly for their reactions to the more fundamental processes.

Western medicine also differs in a view of acceptable treatment. This can be seen by looking at how a viral infection is treated, where the main problem is the virus. Once the virus is rendered harmless, the patient is viewed as cured. In some special cases, such as transplant patients or HIV positive patients, there is considerable effort taken to address the immune system as well. The philosophy behind acupuncture considers that the most likely reason that the virus was able to flourish in the patient is due to an imbalance in the patient's physical or emotional state, their personal habits, and possibly the climate. The virus is addressed, but the entire well being of the patient is much more important.

Another difference is in the way that Chinese medicine views emotional and mental problems. These have traditionally always been a part of any acupuncture diagnosis and treatment. An emotional imbalance may be a cause for a physical ailment, however, this is not looked upon as a "psychosomatic disorder" and dismissed. This emotional imbalance can also be treated with acupuncture, in order to restore the correct flow of energy, and hence the physical ailment and emotional ailment will both be addressed and treated. Western medicine has only started to treat mental illness as a component of physical health in the last thirty years, and again, by relying on such things as blood analysis.

Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and western medicine have all made great contributions to the healing arts. They come from two distinctly different viewpoints and methods of practice. Hopefully this discussion has given some insight into the differences between the two, and a starting point for thought the next time a health problem needs to be addressed.

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Category: Acupuncture Techniques

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