A Bit On Chinese Medicine

This week I have a friend from Taiwan staying at my place. It is great to have her hear and it brings back a bunch of great memories from the time that my girlfriend and I lived in Taiwan and studied Chinese. It has also been a good refresher for our Chinese as we are now studying Spanish.

This friend, who was also our Chinese teacher, gave us great insight into Taiwanese and Chinese culture during our time in Taiwan. One thing that we have talked a great deal about this week is Chinese medicine. This is in large part because we are witnessing her practicing this type of medicine and seeing some of the conflicts of Chinese medicine philosophies and typical American customs.

There are many, many aspects to Chinese medicine, and one could easily write a whole blog devoted to the general topic. I just want to mention a few things that I find interesting. I first want to note that the more modern Chinese medicine practitioners do not shun western medicine. They realize the almost complimentary relationship between eastern and western medicine. It is quite possible that taking the best from both of these worlds allows for a more holistic approach to medicine and the human body.

One aspect of Chinese medicine I find very interesting is the whole body or holistic approach. Let us think about western medicine to highlight this point. When you meet a western MD you will often ask him what kind of medicine they practice. This is because MDs will specialize in a particular area of the body. Of course, with the vast amount of knowledge we have about the body these days, this is quite necessary. Specialists do wonderful things in their particular area of focus.

Chinese medicine doctors on the other hand are more like our western general practitioner MDs. They are usually thinking about the big picture. If there is a stomach problem they will ask what is wrong in other areas of the body that might be affecting the stomach. They often make general recommendations about total body care to address a specific problem in the body.

One particular thing I find very interesting in Chinese medicine is their desire to keep temperatures the same. Here is what I mean. They believe that the body and all its parts, including the hair, should be kept at the same temperature and in balance with the outdoor temperature.

This means that drinking ice water is bad (note: I don’t think drinking ice water is all that great for the body). It is also bad to have your hair wet. Blow drying is very necessary. Also, you should not eat ice cream in the winter. It is too cold. This goes on and on.

Chinese medicine is pretty fascinating, and I would encourage you to learn more on the subject. Check out this Wiki link on Traditional Chinese Medicine for a thorough introduction to the subject.