Whilst thought of, for thousands of years, as the primary medical system in China, Chinese medicine is considered as alternative medicine in the Western world. Because Chinese medicine relies on natural healing rather than synthetically produced drugs, more and more people in the Western world are turning to this branch of medicine.
The history of Chinese medicine is far from well defined, but it is believed to have been practised for 5,000 years. The Yellow Emperor, whose reign could have been anything between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, is thought to have commissioned the first written document concerning Chinese medicine, which is Hung-Di Nei-Jing (Cannon of Internal Medicine).
Although methods, such as food therapy, qi gong and massage, play a secondary role to the primary branches that are herbal medicine and acupuncture they still play an important part in the healing process. But few know that restoring harmony and regaining balance rather than treating the disease is the aim of all traditional treatment.
Any illness or disease is caused primarily by lack of harmony. The concept of modern medicine is to treat the illness by the use of antibiotics and vaccines, whereas Chinese medicine has a holistic view, the philosophy of which is that a well-balanced person will resist most illness and disease.
While more and more medical schools are including classes on alternative medicine in their syllabuses, the relationship between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is still contentious. Older Western physicians are far more probable than their Chinese counterparts to view Chinese medicine with misgivings.
This is not to say that the techniques are of no value in the West. Alternative medicine has been recognised by drug companies and the value it can give to the world of modern medicine and are employing scientists to gather information from around the world from traditional Chinese medical practitioners. T’ai Chi Ch’uan or qigong, amongst other methods, are being included in classes of hospitals and clinics as part of their inpatient and health programmes.
Excelling in the physical and mental illnesses and within the areas of prevention, Chinese medicine is not considered as an alternative medicine to over three quarters of the world’s population. It has been developed over time as a form of non-invasive, therapeutic and risk free treatment.
Attitudes towards modern medicine and its reliance on synthetic drugs have influenced many to seek support in alternative medicine and Chinese medicine in particular. Chinese medicine is now an initiatory option for an increasing number of people who want to maintain good health and is increasing in popularity in the Western world.