Traditional Chinese Medicine versus the conventional medicine
is the difference between the Traditional Chinese Medicine and
the conventional medicine?
You may notice that there are
lots of differences between the TCM and the conventional
medicine, in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Actually, there
are differences in their understanding the body structure and
function, the relationship between the human being and the
environment too. Such a differences actually reflect two
completely different philosophy that guide the both medical
systems, the Traditional Chinese philosophy and the current
(1). Traditional Chinese
Medicine studies the human being within the nature. It believes
that human being is the product of, the ingredient of, the whole
universe. The body function, emotion, and spiritual development
is affected by the sun, the earth, and every fact on the earth,
such as the temperature, wind, radiation, the environment of
living and so on.
Old Chinese summarize their
understanding of the universe as Yin and Yang. The movement and
interaction between the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Soil, Metal
and Water) or the Weight Gua system and Sixty-four Gua system.
They feel that this philosophy can well explain and predict the
dynamic movement of things, and the development circle of things
on the earth. They hold the same view on the structure of human
body and its function, in normal or disorder conditions.
On the other side, the
conventional medicine, as a result of current science, looks
human body as a machine. In the eyes of the medical staff, the
emotion and the spirit of the body is not important. The staff
can find wrong things in the body and solve it just as we find a
wrong thing in a car and fix it as fix a car. They look the
human body as individual in the nature. It seems that the human
is something isolated from the nature, not a part in the nature.
So, if there is too much bacteria growing in our body, we can
kill them. If there are some parts of the body that cannot work
properly? We will remove it and replace it with a new one. It
seems that the body has no self-healing function. Any problem in
the body needs outside invasion to solve it.
Chinese Medicine understands the body structure and function
according to the relationship between and among the organs. The
whole body functions are summarized into five systems, e.g. the
Heart system, Lung system, Liver system, Spleen system and the
kidney system. Any other structure and functions can all be
included into one or more of these systems. For example, eye
belongs to the Liver system, and the muscle belongs to the
Spleen system. Therefore, disorders in the eyes are considered
as the disorders in the Liver system, in a broad concept and the
muscle pain or paralysis is considered the disorder in the
Spleen system. See, it is a summarizing, comprehensive medical
system. It is trying to link things together according to their
Someone may say that this is
the weakness of the TCM system, that it should also look the
body in detail as the conventional medicine does. But, in
practice, it appears that we do not need to know so detail about
the body. Just as we look at a paining. We should keep a
distance to see the painting. The painting looks as a painting.
When we walk so close to it, touch our nose on it, the painting
no longer looks as painting. It looks nothing!
In the conventional medicine,
the disease means something structurally wrong in the parts of
the body. The damage of the parts can be verified by lab tests,
or physical detections. If nothing can be found chemically or
physically, it feels hard to start any treatment, or denies the
presence of any disease, or simply contribute it to a
psychological problem or neurasthenia, no matter how hard the
patient may feel.
For example, a person may feel
bloating or pain in stomach, dry mouth, little nausea or
constipation, a kind of diarrhea, or poor sleep. His tongue may
show little yellow in color, and pulse feels some kind as a
string. He visits his family doctor and the doctor may find
nothing wrong in his stomach, liver, spleen, kidney, heart or
lung, or in any other organs after series of tests. But in
Chinese Medicine, it can be diagnosed as Live Qi stagnation and
dishummany between the liver and the spleen. A kind of herb
formula works very well for such condition. For conventional
medicine, what can we use for him? To give him some drugs for
bloating, for pain, for diarrhea, for sleeping, or just tell him
that he has nothing need to take?
Chinese Medicine is developed in the clinic. It is therefore
called a clinic evidenced medicine. It is the summary of the
clinic experience of many famous doctors in the history. These
doctors claimed that their idea was originated from the Chinese
philosophy. It works, as we always say so, though the concept is
not so easy to understand by those who is not doctor, or by
those who are familiar only with the current scientific terms.
The principle of the TCM has been well
established 2000 years ago in the book “Huang Di Nei Jing”.
There are no major developments in the principle so far. What
the development is the practical remedies following the
principle, rather than throw out the previous principles. The
TCM doctor needs his whole life to understand information in
this book and become a master of the Traditional Chinese
Medicine. In this way, it is said that not everything that
happened thousands of year ago is old and behind. In another
words, no everything developed now a days is better or advanced
than a previous one. See, we still do not know at all how old
people build the Pyramid in Egypt and how old man could create a
sword thousands of years ago in china, that shows no any rust
when it was find thousands of years later. I personally believe
that the knowledge in the TCM bible may not come from our
current generation of human being, but previous!
Conventional medicine developed along with
the progress of current science, which is still in a development
and still under the way to understand the truth of the nature.
Science just means that it has not reach the final truth of the
nature yet. So, does the conventional medicine. The conventional
medicine is therefore also an immature behavior of human being
to understand the nature of our body.
In conventional medicine, the medical drugs
are mostly developed in guinea pigs. It therefore implies that
the body structure, bio-reaction of a guinea pig is the same as
millions of human being and that the emotion, weather it has or
not, in a guinea pig is the same as millions of human beings
too. Therefore, it is not hard to understand that if we did not
observe some side effects from the guinea pig, it could happen
to human being later, or it works in the small animal that live
in a constant environment (reasonable amount of food, regular
light-dark circle, constant temperature, etc.), but not work in
human being, which live in largely variable environment in terms
of living condition, financial condition, personal
relationships, emotional stress, etc..
Just as the current science, what they
claim the finding today may be turn off tomorrow. The doctor has
to keep learning new concept from new books to update their
knowledge. The text book has to be under continuous
modifications to update the “new” findings again and again. How
can we trust such a believing system to guide us what to do and
what not to do?
Some in the conventional medicine may claim
that the therapies used by them have been under the tests by
large-scale, double-blinded experiments. Dare they say that most
of the surgical operation procedures have been under such
large-scale, double-blinded experiments before used in clinic?
Is there any organ transplantation surgery under such tests
before used to patients?
(4). Traditional Chinese Medicine believes
and emphasizes the flexibility of the patient condition which
changes from time to time or affected by the treatment. So, it
emphasizes the close match of the treatment to the patient
condition. A TCM doctor may prescribe thousands of different
herbal formula to thousands of patients. A patient may need
several formula to recover during the treatments. The formula
should change or be modified according to the status of the
However, you may find that a doctor may use
basically one formula for most of his patients with largely
variable disease. For example, a doctor may use the same formula
to treat thousands of patients with variable disorders from ear
rings, lower back pain, frequent urination, lower sexual
ability, hair loss, or night sweat. This is possible in the TCM
doctor, similar to the artist, who can use one pen to paint
large amount of different paintings.
Because the therapy used by TCM doctors are
largely variable, so does the clinic effects. It means that you
still have chance to get help to go to different TCM doctor, if
you cannot get it from current doctor. According to our
experience, it is much difficult to become a GOOD doctor in the
Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In conventional medicine, the principle for
the treatment is relatively (we mean, relatively) the same from
doctor to doctor, and from one hospital to another, since they
all have to follow the same “guideline” for the disease, once
the diagnosis is established. Perhaps we may have some kinds of
surgical treatment, such as organ transplantation, or gene
therapy, in some hospital, but no in all hospitals. Or for some
rare disease, we may have to go to some special hospital to have
the final diagnosis that cannot be done in general hospitals.
For so much similarity for the diagnosis and treatment from
doctor to doctor and from hospital to hospital, you may have no
more hope if your current doctor fails to help you.
(5). Traditional Chinese Medicine believes
that, the large scope Infectious disease can be predicted, based
on the understanding of the nature (the years circle, the
weather change, etc.). In old times, doctor may prepare some
related herbs for use.
In conventional medicine, large scope
infectious disease is hardly to predict. It never precisely
predict any rupture of infectious disease in history. What it
can do is to try to find out first the reason for the disease
(such as in the rupture of SARS in 2002). Then try to solve it.
Without knowing the reason (bacteria, or virus, or whatever),
there could have no way to go.
With development of gene study, people
dream that we could predict disease in individual or in a group
of people. They forget that, the presence of a “disease” gene in
a body may not necessarily mean that the body will really
eventually have such disease in his life. They do not want to
think that, the development of a disease needs proper
environment and condition to happen in the body. So many times a
bacteria infection happens only when our body defence system
crashed, or we become very weak due to some physical or
emotional stress. The bacteria are the one that actually
normally live in our body but did nothing hurt us!
(6). Traditional Chinese Medicine does not
need to create new herbs for the treatment of new diseases.
There are thousands of kinds of herbs being
used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thought there are new
kinds of diseases coming from time to time in the history, the
increase in the number of the new herbs is largely relatively
limited. This is true for single herbs and for herbal formula.
They are used thousands of years ago and are still used today.
This is similar to Chinese dishes: largely variable dishes can
be cooked with limited kinds of raw cooking material. This is
also similar to the Chinese characters: new phases can be easily
created by choosing the characters available, while for English,
we have to create completely new words to match the development
of new concepts in science: e.g. computer, antibiotics, robots,
genes, DNA… the words that does not exist even hundreds of years
Due to the fast turnover rate of the drugs
in the conventional medicine, more and more new drugs have to be
developed. It is now harder and harder to predict how long a
drug can be available in the market. So many times scientists
were so happy to declare it was revolutionary in the treatment
of some diseases (say, the treatment of bacteria with
antibiotics) with their new drugs. Later, it is also the
scientists who told us that we should not take it, for the
reasons that it causes lots of side effects, or the bacteria or
virus, or whatever the target of the drug, developed resistance
to the drugs. The development of new drugs is a continuous
process in the lab of pharmaceutical companies. This means that
they still do not find the BEST solutions to the current
diseases, not to speak of the solutions to future new diseases!
(7). Traditional Chinese Medicine is simple
in terms of the use of equipments and cheaper in costs. The
doctor uses the herbs, or acupuncture needles, his hands, or
even just the diet (the diet therapy). For diagnosis, he mostly
depends on the patient illness history, patient complain,
information obtained by looking at the tongue and feeling of the
pulse. None costs lots of money and the results of the diagnosis
are right away available.
For the conventional medicine, a diagnosis
depends more and more on the lab chemical tests, bacterial
culture, gene detection, and the physical exams, such as X-ray,
Ultrasound, CT, MRI, and others. The results are mostly not
available right away after the exam and the costs are more and
more with the increased number of the tests and the repeated
tests, not to speak of the damage cause by some tests, such as
X-ray and CT.
Once come into the treatments, the
conventional medicine uses either chemical drugs, which have
been developed after spending millions of the dollars before the
drug comes into the market, or surgical modality, which needs
complex equipments and sterilized environment. If it comes to
the use of organ transplantation or gene therapy, the costs
becomes rocket rising without any guarantee on the results.
Nearly all of the treatment processes need the participation of
more staffs in the medicine (Lab technicians, surgical