Traditional Chinese medicine may still sound foreign to many people, but major medical centers in the U.S. and Europe are realizing what advocates of Chinese Medicine have known for centuries. Drug researchers are combing ancient texts of traditional Chinese medicine seeking cures for diseases. This approach has already netted breakthroughs, such as the chemotherapy drug Taxol and the antimalarial treatment artemisinin. Physicians wanting to offer patients better preventative care are incorporating Chinese Medicine and calling their practices integrative or complementary medicine, which describes Eastern practices augmenting Western know-how.
In Eastern medicine, even the role of doctors is different. In America, you go to the doctor when you become ill. In Chinese medicine, you saw the doctor when you were well, and it was his job to keep you well.
Major medical institutions, including Duke and the Mayo Clinic, have established these integrative medicine clinics that may prescribe both an anti-anxiety drug and a course of yoga. Initially this medicine was used preventatively, but now it is used not only preventatively, but as a means to resolve illness
One major thing that sets Eastern medicine apart is that it sees our bodies as connected with the universe. Chi (or qi) describes the life force that flows through the body via energy pathways. Blockages result in pain and illness, which can be relieved with bodywork. In our bodies, as well as in the universe, there is yin and yang, two opposing forces, where yin is cool and yang is hot. If you have inflammation, which is excess heat, fresh fruits and vegetables (yin foods) help restore balance. If you are cold, hot soup or spices (yang foods) do the trick.
Start to view your health holistically and pay attention to all facets: sleep, diet, activity, social connections, mental health—even finding purpose and joy. It’s a lifelong task.