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Page 2 - Ancient Healthcare for a Modern World
Dr. Zhu is a very bright, female physician who is the chief of the Oncology Department (called "head of tumor section" in China) at the Shanghai Ear, Nose & Throat Hospital. During an interview she spoke very much from the perspective of a Western trained physician. However, she was very interested in discussing her beneficial collaboration with the Shanghai branch of the Cancer Recovery Association, whose members practice traditional Qigong self-care exercises daily. In addition, her own special research interest is in the physiological mechanisms of acupuncture.
Dr. Liu, the chair of the Department of Acupuncture at the Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, was trained in Western medicine. During the cultural revolution, he was assigned to a project aimed at proving or disproving the traditional claims made about the benefits of Qigong self-care exercises. His research demonstrated that Qigong self-care was very beneficial. He decided to pursue the traditional approach to medicine, specializing in acupuncture and Qigong. Now, as the chair of the department and as chief editor of several books on current acupuncture research, Dr. Liu is very active in the merging of traditional Chinese and Western medicine.
The Chinese Model for Integrating Western medicine with Natural Healing Methods
At the Shanghai Traditional Medicine Hospital, the Chinese government's most current and comprehensive approach to medicine is revealed. It merges the best of traditional Chinese medicine and the best of Western medicine in a beautiful, new, 500-bed facility with an out-patient clinic that serves 1,000 patients per day. The chief administrator was asked, "Why do you combine systems of medicine in this way?" His answer was, "It is the most efficient and cost effective way to serve large numbers of people who have a broad variety of clinical needs."
This model, which is from the Shanghai Traditional Medicine Hospital, is typical of the integration of traditional Chinese Medicine and conventional Western medicine throughout China:
Step 1. All patients are diagnosed using traditional methods: pulse, tongue, and questioning. This requires no technological equipment and is therefore extremely inexpensive and immediate. This diagnostic strategy is sufficient in over 50% of cases, encompassing both in- and out-patient groups.
Step 2. Only when necessary, confirmation of diagnosis is provided through Western diagnostic methods. This combination is utilized in less than 50% of all cases. If needed, the latest technology is available: complete laboratory for all currently standard, body chemistry studies, X-ray, CT Scan (computer topography), and MRI (magnetic resonance imagery).
Step 3. In almost all cases, the first layer of treatment uses traditional Chinese natural healing modalities (acupuncture, massage, herbs) and self-care (Qigong) training. Even individuals who have taken step 2 into Western diagnostic methodologies generally receive traditional medical treatment.
Step 4. Western medical treatment is given generally when traditional treatment is not sufficient. Because of their recognized value in managing the side effects of drugs and radiological intervention and in mediating symptoms of insomnia, nausea, aches and pains, constipation, anxiety, and depression, the traditional modalities (acupuncture, massage, herbal formulas, and Qigong practice) are almost always added to Western medical treatment programs.
On the first floor of the hospital, between the emergency room and the x-ray/CT scan department, is an immense herbal pharmacy. The uplifting fragrance of hundreds of different kinds of health-giving plants is prevalent in the hallway just outside the x-ray department. The director of the hospital stated with pride, "We dispense over a thousand herbal formulas per day; frequently, that is as much as a ton of herbs." Is there a warm handshake, a true collaboration between Western and traditional medicine in China? The answer is an unqualified "Yes."
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