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Chinese medicine in dilemma

By Ma Yujie (Xinhua)

08:42, October 09, 2012

(Photo/Xinhua)

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- In a consulting room in the Jinan Chinese Medicine Hospital, east Shandong Province, a brown-mustached caucasian in his white uniform is taking the pulse of a patient.

The doctor, Peter Knithof, is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) student from the Netherlands. He has been studying in China for five years. Along with him is Lee Jae Hak from the Republic of Korea.

The pair said Chinese medicine has become quite popular in both of their countries, which is part of the reason why they decided to come to study Chinese medicine.

Lee suffered from an illness during his childhood. After using Chinese medicine he got much stronger. "My family and I have seen the wonders of Chinese medicine," Lee said.

After four years' language and professional training at a Chinese university, they now speak fluent Chinese and are taking part in internship at the Jinan hospital. To them, studying Chinese medicine is also an important aspect of understanding the traditional Chinese culture.

Like Taichi and Shaolin Kungfu, the doctrines of Chinese medicine are rooted in the ancient Chinese culture. While Western medicine conducts research based on anatomical structures, TCM perceives health as a harmonious interaction of the body and the outside world.

TCM is not supported by evidence-based modern medicine. It, nonetheless, traces symptoms by checking the pulse and inspecting the tongue and meridians, which the Western world views as a mysterious concept and has long been reluctant to accept.

Chen Qiguang, who leads a TCM research group in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the Chinese and the West use distinct systems and theories regarding medication, which is why non-Chinese have difficulty in trusting in TCM.

"In Western medicine, the disease is treated as an enemy," Chen said, "the best way to cure cancer is to kill all tumor cells."

"In Chinese medicine, we believe that if the body reaches an internal balance, patients will still be able to live a healthy life even with some cancer cells inside the body," Chen said.

Chen said many in the United States and Europe are used to seeing things in an absolute "scientific" way, which usually means data and evidence.

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