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Difference Between Chinese and Western Medicine

stethoscopeChinese vs Western Medicine

The difference between Chinese and Western medicine can really be just a matter of perception. For any given patient, for the same signs and symptoms, you will get varying ways of how the information pertaining to that patient is organized, while using either Chinese or Western medicine.

One of the key differences is the approach. The approach with Western medicine is reductive and analytical, while Chinese medicine uses an inductive and synthetic approach.

Western medicine is based on standards and evidence, while Chinese medicine relies on experience over time through numerous trials and clinical observations. Western medicine is strictly based on inferences made from laboratory examinations. Hundreds of years of observations and research provide the experience that forms the basis and complexity of Chinese medicine.

While Western medicine is purely a science, Chinese medicine is more of a healing art. Chemical compounds are used to formulate medications in Western medicines, but only herbs are used for Chinese treatments. Almost every plant is seen to have some health benefit to the body, and as such there are little or no side effects of medicines, since herbs are basically administered in their natural forms. On the other hand, western medicine relies exclusively on chemical drugs, and at the center of that is the very profitable pharmaceutical industry that is responsible for the research and production of these chemical drugs. Although these compounds may have higher potency due to the extensive research done to produce them, they also come with side effects which range from mild to severe, and even fatal in some drug instances.

Another key difference is that Chinese medicine looks at the body’s system as a whole, whereas Western medicine concentrates on a particular part or its function. But, because the human body is a complex set of systems each interlinked with the other, the true nature of how it works is often misrepresented by the reductionism system of Western medicine, making the experience-based and observatory method of Chinese medicine more relevant as it looks at the body as a whole system.

On a down side, Chinese medicine, unlike Western, lacks the tools to study the detailed internal mechanisms of the human body, therefore determining the most effective treatment in such cases as infectious diseases becomes a matter of trial and error. The abundance of tools to provide powerful diagnostic functions in Western medicine makes it more precise in selecting a more effective treatment to root out an ailment. However, lately the trend is to integrate both types of medicines in treatment plans.

Summary:
Western medicine uses a reductive and analytical approach, while Chinese medicine uses an inductive and synthetic approach.
Western medicine is standardized and evidence-based, while Chinese medicine is experience-based.
While Western medicine is a pure science, Chinese medicine is more of a healing art.
Chinese medicine lacks proper diagnostic tools, while Western medicines’ strength is its powerful diagnostic ability.


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2 Comments

  1. Here’s another take on the difference between Eastern and Western medicine:
    http://www.gancao.net/theory/comparison-186

  2. Great aricle …to know abt both Westen and Eastern medicines By – Ihsan Shanti

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