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Fortifying Western Healthcare with Traditional Chinese Medicine

With huge, mainland China at the northeastern side of the Philippine archipelago, it is not surprising to find significant Chinese influences in Philippine culture. Trade between the Chinese and Filipinos has been chronicled since the ninth to 12th centuries. Today, some ten percent of the Philippines’ entire population is of Filipino-Chinese descent.

This racial mingling has brought forth the noteworthy presence in the Philippines of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has a rich history of 3000 years of ancient practice and experience. For this reason, there are a number of doctors in the Philippines who have also acquired expertise in Traditional Chinese Medicine as they opt to find a balance between the Western and Chinese mode of cure.

TCM has a distinctive approach to diagnose and cure illness.  In TCM, the understanding of the human body is based on holistic view of the universe and treatment of illness is based primarily on the diagnosis and differentiation of syndromes.

TCM approach treats zang-fu organs as the core of the human body.  It is known that tissues and organs are connected through a network of channels and blood vessels inside the human body. The Qi (chi) acts as some kind of carrier of information that is expressed externally through jing luo system. A dysfunction of the zang-fu organs may be reflected pathologically on the body surface through a network affecting the related zang-fu organs hence manifesting diseases of the body surface tissues.  An affected zang or fu organs may also influence each other through internal connections.  TCM treatment begins with analyzing the entire system, before focusing on the connection of pathological changes through readjusting the functions of the zang-fu organs.

Evaluation of a syndrome not only includes the cause, mechanism, location and nature of the disease but also the confrontation between the pathogenic factor and body resistance. Treatment is not based solely on the symptoms, but differentiation of syndromes. Therefore, those with identical diseases may be treated in different ways, and, on the other hand, different diseases may result in the same syndrome and are treated in similar ways.

The universal diagnosis and treatment in TCM are mainly based on the yin-yang and five-element theories. These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological changes of the human body and its interrelationships. The typical TCM therapy includes acupuncture, herbal medicines and qigong exercises. Treatment is usually done stimulating certain areas of the external bodies called trigger points or acupoints.  Herbal medicine acts on zang-fu organs internally while qigong resuscitates the dysfunctional information flow inside the network through the regulations of Qi. These therapies appear very different in approach yet they all share the same holistic understanding in the universe.

TCM believes that human life is a physiological process in constant motion and changes.  Under normal conditions, the waxing and waning of yin and yang are within certain bounds reflecting a dynamic equilibrium of the physiological processes.  When the balance is broken, disease occurs.  Typical cases of disease-related imbalance may either include excess of yin, excess of yang, deficiency of yin or deficiency of yang.

The Convergence of Eastern and Western Medicine

The world is more acquainted with the conventional Western medicine.  For years it has known and trusted its benefits, and believed that it is the “only” tried and scientifically tested medical system.  In recent years, healthcare development is encompassing new horizons.  Though we have latest medical discoveries and develop new techniques for healthier and longer life, still many questions are left unanswered by Western medicine. This situation gives rise to the emergence of alternative medicine.

The convergence of Western and Eastern Medicine is now being practiced in several parts of the world.  The synergy of the research-based Western Medicine and 3,000 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the latest approach of healthcare programs.  It is now being used in modern healthcare commonly known as “Integrative Care.”

The greatest value of Western Medicine is in trauma care and therapies for acute problems.  TCM on the other hand targets chronic problems incorporating preventive care cultivating the internal life force and increasing immunity against illnesses thus increasing resistance to diseases.  The integration of these two medical systems results in the highest success in patient care.  Recently, there has been an increasing awareness and interest in alternative therapies.  “Alternative,” “complimentary” or “holistic” medicine is a common terminology nowadays.  More and more people embrace some form of alternative therapy coming from herbs or through acupuncture, acupressure and meditation.  Exercise techniques which are uncommon to us before, like tai-chi and qi-gong, are also incorporated with much enthusiasm and acceptance.

Moreover, as cities witness the rise in stress and lifestyle-related illnesses, the overall cost to achieve and maintain health also increases. It is with this concern that preventive medicine plays a major role in promoting wellness. It is more economical and promises long-term healthy living. Preventive medicine can ensure continued good health of the populace.

Traditional Chinese Medicine tackles the gray area between sickness and health.  Having no sign of illness does not mean that a person is healthy.  The goal of Chinese Medicine is to figure out the “root cause” of lack of health.

The convergence of Chinese Medicine, which centers on cultivating the internal force of our bodies, and the value of Western Medicine, which centers on trauma care and acute problem therapies, fortifies the strength of the modern healthcare approach –
the “Integrative Care.”

Ferdinand P. Lukban is Managing Director of We Medicus.   We MEDICUS  is an Integrative Care boutique located at 118 Jupiter st. Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City, Philippines 1209. You may contact them at,

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