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Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (tcm) - Two Modalities Discussed

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The development of the health care and the health system that we have today is due to a whole range of healing paradigms that have been influenced by certain cultures and philosophies over time. Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are two modalities that will be discussed.

Western Medicine derives from ancient Greek philosophies of naturalistic and vitalistic principles. Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher known as "The Father of Medicine" taught the important causal association between environmental factors and disease (Potter, 2007). This discovery was a forerunner for the "scientific method" and is essential in today's evidence based medicine. He also believed it was important to treat the body as a whole. Since then science has evolved over time. In the 1600's, Descartes likened the body to a machine, which separated mind and matter, body and spirit (Potter, 2007). Thus many western physicians primarily look for a single cause of a specific effect, treating the symptom rather than getting to the root of the problem (Toh J, 2008).

Western Medicine is scientific and more widely accepted for treating mainstream illness. It is the 'defacto' medicine in the world today.

TCM is the third oldest medicine dating back around 3000 years. Yi Jing first recorded Qi and Yin Yang, the fundamental theories of the TCM practise. Jing believed that everything came from the interaction of Yin and Yan and when Yin and Yan unite, there is Qi (Potter, 2007). The TCM philosophy is based around Health being harmony within the body as well as between the body and the universe (Shen-nong, 2005). Unlike Western Medicine, TCM is integrative, based on understanding the whole body rather than single parts. It also uses natural healing mechanisms rather than drugs, such as herbs. TCM is regarded as an 'alternative medicine' in the Western world.

The two methods reflect different views on health and how it's treated. TCM evolved completely independent of the history of Western Medicine. However they both began with similar philosophies of natural treatment. "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food" Hippocrates quoted, as he had a great belief in the body to heal itself (Food Matters).

With the growing population, there is a higher demand for medical treatment. The Western society is becoming more aware and open to 'alternative' methods of medicine. TCM is attracting attention in places such as the health care industry, governmental agencies, media and the public (Kit Hui, 2000). Their modalities such as Acupuncture are now used widely in the western world. Modern trends suggest that an integration of both paradigms might have a beneficial effect. While Western Medicine has strength in cases such as trauma, TCM is strong in preventative medicine and chronic problems (Stone,



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