In recent years, Western populations have begun to recognize the Traditional Medicine of East Asia and China as effective. More and More, we see news articles and journals and educational videos of this supposed “foreign” and “ancient” medicine for various health benefits. From a western perspective there has been some standoffishness by certain people, scientists, or western medical doctors to the acceptance of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some completely denounce and deny its validity, as others are more excepting.
Some reasons for the lack of confidence in TCM from a “western” “scientific” perspective, is 1) that it holds theories and ideas that ARE completely foreign from any western knowledge, 2) results are not ALWAYS immediate, or over night, 3) ample, DECENT and PROPER research studies are lacking. To answer to these, 1) Ideas that are not an inherent part of a culture are discarded as non-truth, as in other cultures in which people accept these same ideas from the time they were born, it is obviously easier to accept and embrace them as truth. The most basic example of this is of the concept Qi or energy. I have heard people say, “oh, i don’t believe in Qi, I don’t buy that.” But if you say, Qi is energy, and actually all energies to include potential, kinetic, chemical, thermal, electrical, then the person says “well, i guess I do believe in those energies, so now maybe I accept the concept of Qi.” This is the most common example of how peoples view as to what is TRUTH can change simple because of their “perspective” on the matter, or “wrapping their mind around the concept.” Nothing actually changed, it was simply a perception. So, when we are presented with new ideas, it is important to be very careful, to honestly consider the idea, before denouncing it. This is easily seen now, as in the past, scientists and medical doctors discarded Traditional Chinese Medicine and now they are beginning to accept its methods, some completely, and some to a certain extent.
To Respond to reason 2) in Chinese medicine, results are not always immediate. They can very often be immediate, however, sometimes things take time. Some longer then others. This is because this is a very natural medicine. Literally referring to nature. People don’t just wake up one day and the season has changed, or they have aged 10 years in one night, or a seed has turned into a tree in 1 week, or a trickle of water into a raging river in 1 month. Nature takes time to correctly bring about beautiful things. Many people have been trained to expect immediate results from a western medical concept, mainly because the methods and medications are very extreme and powerful, such as surgery or corticosteroids. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is very necessary in more extreme cases. However, from a nurturing, natural life course perspective, sometimes things take time… days, weeks, months, or even a life time. This obviously depends on the condition, chronicity, and individual. Reason 3) is quite interesting. The lack of PROPER research. This is beginning to change as in general, simply MORE research is being done. However, besides, lack of the quantity of research, it is also very difficult to create research on acupuncture or chinese medicine based on the scientific method and double blind studies for several reasons. For example, it is hard to create a “sugar pill” equivalent for a placebo effect for acupuncture. Some ideas are just needling different points, or needling less deep, etc. However, with acupuncture being so dynamic and frequently changing the bodies energetics it is difficult to needle a person, and not create ANY effect. Not to mention the numerous variables and differences that occur in each person and in each study situation. In addition, blind and double blind studies are not 100% correct ever time.
To Conclude: I sat down with the intention to write about something completely different, like fertility or something, however this is what manifested as my fingers got typing. This is a brilliant example of the nature of things. Just as this article was written, I see quite often in my patients, that while we are both working to resolve one issue, that issue remains but other issues resolve. This is an example how how nature takes its course as long as you sit with good intentions. Good is always being done regardless of the perception. Even though our “desire” was to resolve one issue, another issue was resolved. In comparison, when it is winter we may desire for summer, however, we need to respect nature and realize that we may have to wait. Every thing in its proper time and proper place. Once the person realizes the nature of life and artfully practices life in this way, he or she becomes closer to harmony with nature. Can Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture work quickly? Absolutely! Some people see the “desired” results in 1 treatment, some after treatment 5 or 7, and some after a few months. However, if it is more of a process, realize this reason why it is a process – because you are being kind and nurturing your body in a natural way. Sometimes Chinese medicine is trying to correct or balance a life long of events that brought a person to a specific place or state. Everything is constantly changing, Bodies, Lives, The Planet. Simply observe, respect, and with good intention, nature will take its course.
Peace, Blessing and Happiness to All
Christopher Grodski, L.Ac., Dipl. OM