The Benefits of Medical Integration
William Collinge quotes Chuang Tzu in his American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine saying, "Heaven, Earth and I are living together, and all things and I form an inseparable unity" (13). Tzu's comment contrasts the traditional American dream of individualistic power and solidarity, but no matter how ethnocentric or arrogant the Western society can be at times, the influence of the world is still present. The health care system is a prime example of how the unification between world cultures brings benefits to society. The Western culture has been developing and refining scientific methods of health care for centuries. Illnesses that were incurable in the past are now treatable with drug medications and by complex surgeries. But along with the absence of the old illnesses, come new ones. People are living longer and chronic and degenerative illnesses are more common. Due to the development of new illnesses, Western medicine has been consulting the traditions and treatments from other cultures for aid in diagnosis and health care. In The American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine, William Collinge states that, "the joining together of conventional and alternative traditions may well permit us to have a more balanced quality of life. At the least, it has helped to bring the concept of health back to medicine" (Collinge xxi). Collinge's use the word "balance" in his description of the quality of life is interesting, because a form of alternative medicine whose central focus is on the balance of the body is Chinese medicine. Due to the onslaught of new chronic and degenerative illnesses, Western culture initiated the search for an alternative medicine. (add specific example) if Collinge is correct in the assumption that the integration of conventional and alternative medicines will bring a more balanced quality of life, then Chinese medicine is a great alternative with benefits available to society, and can help bring the concept of health back to healing.
Chinese medicine views health, causes of illness, and healing differently than Western medicine. Collinge defines health as "an ongoing process of maintaining balance among all the organs and systems of the body" (Collinge 19). The importance of balance to the Chinese approach to healing is apparent in three main theories. They are the dualistic cosmic theory of Yin and Yang, the theory of the five elements, and the theory of Chi.
The theory of Yin and Yang is basic in traditional Chinese medicine. Yin is the female principle, characterized as passive and dark, and represented by the earth. Yang is the male principle, characterized as active and light, and represented by the heavens. The main aim of Chines Medicine is to maintain a balance of Yin and Yang in the body. Illness is thought to be caused by an imbalance of the two (Encyclopedia Britannica Online).
Health, in traditional...