Friday, May 24, 2013

The Girl Who Didn't Believe In Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM that is.

At least those practiced here in our TCM centers encompassing acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine and dietary therapy.

Something our physician intern here refuses to believe. Effectively indoctrinated to be the strictly scientific professional that she is - ever-obsessed with endless reams of data and statistics to back up their evidence-based theories, obviously this ingenue finds it nigh impossible to believe even a little in the exotic uncharted realms of Chinese medicine where very little can actually be proven.

Intern : What is this traditional medicine rubbish? Surely you don't believe it these days?
Paul : Not entirely but I wouldn't dismiss it either. 
Intern : Surely not! There's no scientific basis to prove it works. 
Paul : Ah don't be so narrow-minded! There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy!

Dare I mention that I try to stay away from heaty foods?

Not too heaty, I swear!

Educated in a similarly conventional system, I might have believed much the same as her especially in the initial phase of my career. Back then during my callow housemanship, I'd probably have rubbished any talk about the proverbial wind or the basic cosmological yin yang being out of whack after downing one too many heaty dishes.

Wind? Now how exactly do we go about treating an excess of wind? Nailing the unfortunate patient to the ground doesn't seem to be an effective treatment. And how do we treat a patient with too much yin? Steaming her in a dimsum basket for heat?

But all that talk's in the long forgotten past. With several years under my belt and more than a handful of inexplicable occurrences happening at work - even the one experience during a holiday, I find myself a little more open to ... the occasional unorthodox treatment. Not to mention the brief unwitting brush with acupuncture did make me realize that there's so much more to traditional Chinese medicine than even we know.

Of course having a conservative Asian upbringing with such wildly esoteric information repetitively drummed into our heads does play a minor role.

Certainly not saying we as a medical fraternity should entirely abandon our formidable arsenal of phamacology but we should be more receptive when it comes to alternative medicine as a complement. After all just because we can't understand something doesn't mean it's not true. At least not forever. With the current technology at hand we might not be able to prove anything but one fine day sometime in the future some bright spark might just find a way to do so.

Hell it wasn't that long ago that we thought plagues were brought about by noxious bad air.


peace said...

much as i am a scientific person, brought up in an evidence-based-centric paradigm, i am conscious of the fact that there must be some thing about tcm that allows it to survive more than 3 millennia of chinese civilization...

as a young person, it is "my scientific"-way or no way, but now, as a more matured person, i tend to want to keep my mind open to things.


Ash Godiva said...

i'm the opposite...western medicine is the compliment:D

savante said...

After all some things we just can't prove at the moment, peace :) Maybe in the future.

But it's proven to work, ash! :)