Although considered to be the primary medical system in China for thousands of years, outside of the Far East Chinese medicine is conceived as alternative medicine. Its non-invasive and natural healing philosophy is becoming progressively popular in the Western world as opposed to the synthetically produced drugs of modern medicine.
The history of Chinese medicine is far from well-defined, but it is believed to have been practised for 5,000 years. The Yellow Emperor, whose reign could have been anything between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, is thought to have commissioned the first written document concerning Chinese medicine which is Hung-Di Nei-Jing (Cannon of Internal Medicine).
Although methods, such as food therapy, qi gong and massage, play a secondary role to the primary branches that are herbal medicine and acupuncture they still play an important part in the healing process. But few know that restoring harmony and regaining balance rather than treating the disease is the aim of all traditional treatment.
Any illness or disease is caused primarily by lack of harmony. Whereas modern medicine treats bacteria and viruses directly by the use of antibiotics or vaccines, Chinese medicine has a holistic view and targets the imbalance with the philosophy that well-balanced human bodies can resist most everyday illness and disease.
While more and more medical schools are including classes on alternative medicine in their syllabuses, the relationship between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is still contentious. A more subjective view of Chinese medicine is more likely amongst Chinese modern medical practitioners than their older Western counterparts.
Even though, the techniques are now valued in the west. In fact, pharmaceutical companies have recognised the value of traditional medicines and teams of scientists in many parts of the world are engaged to collect knowledge from traditional Chinese medical practitioners. T’ai Chi Ch’uan or qigong, amongst other methods, are being included in classes of hospitals and clinics in the Western world as part of their inpatient and health programmes.
Chinese Medicine is not considered alternative medicine to over three quarters of the worlds population and it is precisely in the areas of prevention and dealing with physical or emotional illnesses that it excels. For thousands of years it has been seen as form of non-invasive, therapeutic and risk free treatment.
Attitudes towards modern medicine and its reliance on synthetic drugs have influenced many to seek support in alternative medicine and Chinese medicine in particular. Chinese medicine is becoming a popular alternative as a means of helping with addictions or dietary problems, amongst other conditions, and regular treatments can serve to maintain good health.