4. Chinese medicine’s emphasis is on prevention. In Western medicine, diagnosis can only be made and treatment given if there are measurable material or tissue changes that show up in pictures or in blood or fluid tests. If a person complains of symptoms which cannot be measured by these means, Western medicine calls this a functional disorder, and it is usually undiagnosable and untreatable. For example, a person may complain of feeling as if they have a constant lump in the throat, feeling as if they must sigh all the time, feeling inappropriate anger, or that their lower body is as cold as ice, or that they are anxious all the time. To the Western MD, none of these symptoms may be clinically meaningful or treatable. However, to the practitioner of Chinese medicine, these types of symptoms have great clinical meaning. They indicate to him or her that energetic changes have occurred in the body/mind which, if untreated over a period of time, will lead to actual tissue changes, and therefore, more serious disease. This is significant because it means that a good practitioner of Chinese medicine can treat disease at a more fundamental level, which then prevents the onset of more serious diseases. This can be especially important in the treatment of gynecological disorders, so many of which involve functional, emotional, and from a Western medical point of view, often subclinical signs and symptoms.
5. Chinese medicine has a long history of successful treatment for gynecological disorders. While many Western medical treatments are quite wonderful, many of the newest Western medical treatments for a given ailment have yet to be tried over even one generation allowing measurement of any long term side effects, Chinese medicine extends back over 200 generations of doctors and patients and has over 30,000 volumes of medical literature. At times the swift and heroic treatments of Western medicine are useful and necessary in serious, acute, or life-threatening situations. For chronic, or functional disorders, however, Chinese medicine offers a viable alternative, indeed an effective and humane alternative in areas which Western medicine offers few options.
6. Chinese medicine offers self-empowerment. Because Chinese medical theories are based upon direct observation of nature, as opposed to the abstract, mathematical complexities of histology and biochemistry in Western medicine, it is easier for a patient to grasp an understanding of their disease process as seen and described by Chinese medical theory. Its explanations and metaphors describing the disease process come from the natural world, to which most people can easily relate. It is not conceptually distant and opaque. Understanding of how ones disease process has come about allows the possibility for direct intervention and lifestyle changes on the part of the patient herself. For example, if a woman’s discomforts are exacerbated by dietary factors or stress, she may be counseled by a Chinese medical practitioner to limit certain foods in the diet or to use certain exercises, meditation, or other means to control her stress. Such patient education and participation gives a woman the possibility to improve and perhaps eventually control her own health. This is one of the most important aspects of Chinese medicine.
This article is an excerpt from the book Menopause, A Second Spring: Making a Smooth Transition with Traditional Chinese Medicine by Honora Lee Wolfe, published by Blue Poppy Press, Inc., ISBN 0-936185-47-3, $14.95 US. You can order this book by calling 1-800-487-9296 or through your local bookstore.