Eastern Medicine Compared to Western Medicine for Women's Health
Why consider the use of Eastern medicine, acupuncture and herbs? On good reason is that this form of ancient healing has over 2000 years of recorded clinical history. The treatment protocols have developed over centuries, not one or two generations. It is a system with a proven history that views the person as a whole, not as separate parts treated separately.
The symptoms and physical examination, which usually includes tongue and pulse diagnosis, are considered in relation to all the others. The pattern presented is used to develop the proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Acupuncture, herbal and nutritional therapies are prescribed to treat the individual, and reduces the symptoms. One symptom is not treated at the expense of the rest of the body. Because the person is considered as a whole, the treatment is individualized and specific to each person’s needs.
By its nature, Eastern medicine is preventative. Western medicine, for the most part, treats disease. Western medicine studies disease by examining smaller and smaller pieces of the body, and then alters them using drugs and surgery. Western medicine is usually given when the disease has progressed to the point where there is already change or damage to the body.
Eastern medicine looks at the energy and the function of the body. Before there are identifiable tissue changes, there are energetic and functional changes that are subjective. When a patient reports to a Western practitioner that he feels a lump in his throat or her hands and feet are cold all the time, the tests available may not show anything out of the ordinary. The doctor may say all the tests are negative, but the patient knows something is not right. The western physician may be unable to make a diagnosis because it is purely a functional disease. But to the practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, these energetic changes have meaning and are used to diagnose, treat, and prevent tissue changes and more serious diseases.
This form of healing does not separate health problems into physical, emotional, or mental. The emotional or mental status of an individual is just as important in determining the proper diagnosis and treatment as physical signs and symptoms are. In order to develop a treatment plan using acupuncture and herbal medicine, emotional tendencies are considered along with physical signs and symptoms. Eastern medical theory expects certain mental or emotional conditions to go along with certain disease patterns. The emotional and mental symptoms respond to treatment just as the physical symptoms do.
The advantage with Eastern medicine is that disease can be treated before it becomes more serious. It is good at preventative medicine as well as treating disease that is sub-clinical from a Western standpoint. It has a long history of clinical success. There are books on this medicine that are over 2000 years old. Modern Western medicine, by comparison, has been practiced over the last 50 to 100 years. Many Western treatments have not been tried over even a generation, so it is not known what long-term effects there might be.
Western medicine is very powerful, and especially in life-threatening, serious and acute settings. It is one system of medicine, not the only system. Eastern medicine offers an effective and humane alternative in areas where Western medicine offers few options or options that may be unpleasant and possibly serious side effects.
In summary, Eastern medicine views the entire body and mind of the individual, and sees the whole in relation to the pierces. As a medical system, it is inherently safe and without dangerous side effects. It treats emerging patterns effectively so that more debilitating disease may not arise. It has a long clinical history of effective treatment for most types of diseases. It helps the body heal itself.
Eastern Medical Theories and Menopause
The understanding of menopause within the framework of Eastern medicine is very different from Western medicine, and does not translate directly from an understanding traditional Western medicine. Each system has its own unique description of the body and its functions. Eastern medicine does not fit within the paradigm of Western medicine.
Eastern and Western languages are not closely related. Western is logical and linear while Eastern is more ambiguous and subtle with layers of meaning. For example, the word blood used in a Western context means the red liquid in the veins with all its component parts. In the contex of Eastern languate, the word implies what it does as well as what it is. When the organs are discussed, there are things in common with Western physiology, but there is also the suggestion of the energetic function of the organs, not just the anatomy and chemical functions.
From the viewpoint of Eastern medicine, menopause is not a disease. It is a natural transition. About the age of 40, the digestion shows down. Because of this, the body produces less of the substances required for menstruation (qi, blood, and essence.) In response, the body stops monthly periods. Although menopause is itself a sign of aging, it actually slows down the aging process by preventing the unnecessary loss of blood and essence. Once there is no longer a surplus to be released each month, monthly periods stop. Continuing them would deplete the woman’s body. If there were no menopause, women would age much more quickly.
Menopause does not have to mean night sweats and insomnia, worry and suffering. Acupuncture and herbal remedies are both very effective for replenishing the body, reducing the symptoms of menopause, and restoring the body to a natural state of equilibrium and good health.
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