Either/Or - Less/More
We often speak of Western and Eastern medicine as an either/or – less/more choice. Many people scoff at the thought of using Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) in tandem with Western treatments. Conversely, many adherents to the TCM approach will refuse Western medical treatment.
This attitude may stem from the fundamentally opposing mindset of the two treatment types.
In TCM the idea is to achieve mind/body balance. TCM approaches this from a natural perspective. To equalize the meridian system and keep it in balance will in turn help your body maintain its innate ability to heal itself. By opting for a positive mental outlook, the brain continues that natural process by assisting the body to continually course correct towards stability.
Rather than treat the underlying cause, Western medicine often prefers to treat the symptoms, suppressing pain and other issues with drugs that mask warning signs of a bigger problem. While this approach has its advantages, ultimately the complications causing the symptoms still exist.
But are the two approaches so dissimilar? And can TCM and Western medicine learn to play nicely with one another? I think they can.
When your Western doctor puts you on blood pressure medication, doesn’t she also tell you to eat healthy, exercise and take better care of yourself? Doesn’t she provide you with details on all the ways you can accomplish this feat? And don’t some of those suggestions include self-care and natural therapies?
When your TCM practitioner treats you for migraines does she tell you that you absolutely cannot take any medication for your migraines? Of course, she doesn’t.
Because, at heart, there is room and a need for both forms of treatment. And as a patient who suffers from any given ailment, don’t you want to explore as many forms of potential therapy as possible?
Acupuncture and TCM are both a long-term care approach. It can take many treatments to bring your body into natural balance and many more to keep it there and maintain that hard-won equilibrium. Sometimes, patients become impatient with this process and feel it isn’t working. That they aren’t achieving the desired level of relief. But undoing a lifetime of bad habits is not something you can fix overnight.
Conversely, this is the same issue Western medicine faces. Medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, migraines and depression cannot be taken a few times and then discarded. You are embarking upon a lifetime of treatment that may always be necessary no matter how hard you try to change the habits that brought you to the doctor in the first place.
By working to change the underlying causes of your issues as well as treating the symptoms – you are giving yourself the best chance for a lifetime of health success. And that’s something to celebrate!