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In the West, we view the body as a machine: The heart is a pump... the bladder and kidney's are plumbing... the brain is a computer... our joints are hinges that become rusty with age... and so on.
Western doctors are trained to repair our "machines," so their thinking is mostly reactive. They wait for a problem to occur, then try to cure it. Thus, disease is considered an attacking entity, which must be destroyed. Either a powerful antibiotic eliminates the germ -- or if a tumor, it's surgically removed.
Unfortunately, this puts less emphasis on general good health. Instead, we look for some breakthrough cure for every problem -- a "magic" pill or procedure that will repair the body, and restore it to working order.
In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at sickness from another perspective: Why was a person's immune system so weak as to succumb to the bacteria, virus or other intruder in the first place?
That brings us to traditional herbal medicines, the foundation of Chinese healing and healthcare for thousands of years. This accumulation of knowledge is unequaled anywhere in the world. No other country even comes close. For example, long before we had antibiotics, the Chinese used natural antibiotics to fight minor infections, along with adaptogenic herbs to help build immunity.
Western medicine, in comparison, merely gives us chemical antibiotics to kill the out-of-control germs. But then what? A Chinese healer would ask: What are we doing to prevent a reoccurrence -- especially if antibiotics are losing their punch through over-use?
For example, the earliest western drug therapy was Jenner's discovery of the smallpox inoculation in 1796. (Using the common foxglove's dried leaves, digitalis, which contains important glycosides. It's also a powerful cardiac stimulant.)
But did you know that smallpox inoculation was widely used in China more than 200 years before Jenner's discovery? It has even been documented that doctors were sent from Turkey and Czarist Russia in the late-1600s to learn smallpox inoculation from the Chinese. Mark Taylor writes in his excellent book, "Chinese Patent Medicines"...
"To underscore the differences between Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine, we should look at the differences in treatment between the two systems. Gastrointestinal (stomach, digestive and intestinal) problems represent the largest block of complaints from Americans. Yet western medicine offers only three methods of treatment other than surgery. There are anti-ulcer drugs (Tagamet, Zantac), over-the-counter remedies to neutralize stomach acid (Rolaids, Tums, Maalox), and drugs that produce more mucus (Cytotex). These products work by either blocking the production of stomach acid, or by producing more mucus in the GI tract to create a barrier. But this only masks the irritation and pain of hydrochloric acid on the stomach lining.
"In contrast, Chinese medicine offers dozens of herbal formulas to enhance the digestive system's normal function. Instead of blocking symptoms, it concentrates on the root cause so that the symptoms will not reappear. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of separate and distinct formulas that affect various aspects of digestive functions. There is even an entire school of Chinese medical thought linking disease to the malfunctioning of digestion."
Chinese herbal medicine also avoids many of the nasty side-effects produced by Western pharmaceuticals, especially the so-called sledge-hammer drugs. Herb formulas are gentle and offer a slow but steady rate of improvement. For example...
• Herbal treatment of the common cold is vastly superior to the over-the-counter remedies in drugstores. Chinese medicine recognizes several types of colds, and has developed treatments for each condition and its complications. • With women's menstrual and menopausal complications, there are few Western-type treatments, except hormone replacement therapy -- with its nightmare side-effects -- and medications like aspirin and Darvon that relieve painful cramping. In contrast, Chinese herbal medicine offers formulas to build blood, regulate the menstrual cycle, increase fertility and stop hot flashes.
• Chinese herbal medicine strengthens our natural energy, which wanes as we grow older. There are remarkable formulas to rebuild this energy, and strengthen the kidney energy lost in the aging process.
Do you see? For every physical problem, the Chinese have natural solutions.