Alternative medicine is a bit of a misnomer. The name implies that it is an alternative to western medicine. Yes, it is an alternative, but it is an equally valid form of medicine itself. Various forms of what we now call “alternative medicine” have been around since the beginning of time. Prior to western medicine, these were simply known as traditional forms of medicine. In fact, Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years (between two and five thousand). Modern medicine as it is practiced today is rooted in the discovery of antibiotics and pharmacology in the late 19th century.
Western medicine’s biggest strength is in emergency medicine. If I need a broken arm fixed, or have a ruptured appendix, I am going to go to an MD. I will, however, treat the recovery of either of these with Chinese Medicine. But if I have a cold, or a digestive complaint, or am just feeling a little run down, I am going to choose alternative medicine. In addition to treating symptoms like these, a major strength of Chinese Medicine lies in the prevention of disease. The Su Wen and Ling Shu (ancient texts circa 1st century BCE) both discuss this.
“The superior physician makes it his prerogative to treat disease when it has not yet structurally manifested, and prevents being in the position of having to treat disorders that have already progressed to the realm of the physical.”
-Neijing suwen (Chapter 26)
In today’s modern times, most of us already have a few issues for which we could seek help (alternative or western). But most of us only seek medical help when our symptoms are so out of control that we are hugely imbalanced and really feeling bad! Chinese Medicine can work at this level as well, by helping the body to harmonize back into its original state of being.
Another benefit of Chinese Medicine is that it views all of you – mind, body, and soul – through its lens. Emotions are such a major player in how our bodies feel, and Chinese Medicine acknowledges this. Your various symptoms that seem unrelated to either you or your doctor make sense through the scope of acupuncture. You are a complex puzzle, and using the ancient art of Chinese Medicine helps me to make the pieces into a whole.
Here is a recent anecdote from my life showing the efficacy of Chinese Medicine. A bee stung me over the summer for the first time in 30 years. A day later my upper arm had swollen up terribly; it looked like Popeye’s bicep. It was also hot and red, and I knew it was cellulitis, a potentially deadly infection of the connective tissue under the skin. Coincidentally, I had an annual exam scheduled with my doctor later that day, and I asked her about my arm. She confirmed the cellulitis diagnosis and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. I asked her if she was okay with me treating it herbally. She told me to go ahead but to start the antibiotics if I did not see improvement quickly. I wrote myself an herbal formula designed to clear Heat and Toxicity and resolve Dampness (i.e. swelling). Many of the herbs in the formula have been shown to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Within one dose the swelling and redness started to subside. By the next day the change was significant, and I did not need the antibiotics.
I feel very strongly about helping to educate people on the benefits of Chinese Medicine, and about helping people achieve better health using Chinese Medicine. Please do feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. I am happy to answer them.