Opinion Column

Ancient medicines find favour with Canadians 0

Melissa Carr, 24 hours

Traditional chinese medicine doctor Carmel O'Brien-Kelly of Anodyne Chiropractic and Sports Therapy gives Karen Hill an acupuncture treatment for stress management and to decrease jaw pain and headaches at the east-side office Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 in Grande Prairie, Alta. (ADAM JACKSON/QMI AGENCY)

Traditional chinese medicine doctor Carmel O'Brien-Kelly of Anodyne Chiropractic and Sports Therapy gives Karen Hill an acupuncture treatment for stress management and to decrease jaw pain and headaches at the east-side office Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 in Grande Prairie, Alta. (ADAM JACKSON/QMI AGENCY)

History was never my favourite study topic. When I was in school for traditional Chinese medicine, I thought it a waste to study the classic textbooks from thousands of years ago. I wondered how on earth would that be relevant to how we treat people today. Why not just learn what herbs to give or which acupuncture points to use for each modern day illness?

But since my student days I have learned again and again the value of the lessons of the past. TCM is at least 2,000 years old, but according to oral legends, this ancient practice perhaps goes back as far as 5,000 years.

Our recent medical approach has placed a strong emphasis on technology and finding the specific target cells, or body chemicals, that result in related symptoms and diseases. This is important and has saved many lives. Rising medical costs and complicated chronic illnesses unresolved by conventional healthcare, however, mean that both the public and the government are looking for alternative options.

Imagine if there was a medical system with sophisticated diagnostic methods that don’t require expensive technology. Envision effective treatments with few side effects. Think up an approach that emphasizes the connection between the body, mind, emotions and environment. Visualize practitioners teaching patients about wellness care and disease prevention, thus empowering them. No need to dream as TCM offers just these things, and has for thousands of years.

A long time ago in a country far, far away …

TCM boasts the oldest medical text in the world, dating back between 800 to 200 B.C. It promotes wellness through disease prevention, early diagnosis and prevention of disease progression, and prevention of disease return and treatment of conditions that may have resulted from the illness. Sounds like a great foundation for our medicine today, and the good news is that integrative medicine — taking the best from holistic practices like TCM and combining them with conventional Western medicine — is gaining popularity.

In this country, B.C. is a leader for the adoption of alternative and integrative medicine practices. TCM has been regulated in our province since 2001. Ontario joined in this month with its own regulatory association. B.C. is also the first province to regulate the TCM titles that allow for the prescribing of Chinese herbs.

Stay tuned to find out more ways that this ancient medicine is also a modern medicine with supporting research, current disease management, new treatments, and ability to integrate with conventional therapies.

 

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