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by Staff | October 5, 2015

Western Medicine vs Eastern Medicine — What Do Doctors Really Think?

The practice of medicine in the western hemisphere requires a long and rigorous period of study that lasts many years.

Subsequently, western doctors are so busy seeing patients, dealing with insurance and administrative hassles, and staying on top of the latest research in their fields, that they do not even think about non-western medical disciplines.

If they do happen to hear that their patient Johnny went to a doctor who did acupuncture – but that so-called doctor is not an M.D. or D.O. – their eyebrows will rise and their bristles will stand up at the audacity of that person calling himself “Doctor.”

This reaction is due to their opinion that this individual’s training has not been as long and rigorous as theirs and therefore they don’t deserve to use that honorable title.

Thus, this can contribute to some doctors having an attitude of supremacy for western medicine.

Investigate Independently on Integrating Both Worlds

It is the very insular nature of their training that causes western medical doctors to have on blinders to other disciplines. You, as a sophisticated medical consumer, will recognize this weakness and prepare yourself to confront it. How?

Firstly, before stepping foot in your internist’s or family physician’s office, thoroughly educate yourself about the philosophies of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, recognizing that the best treatments for your specific medical problems and for improving your overall wellness may come from Eastern medicine, Western medicine, or a combination of the two: complementary medicine

Understand that your doctor has been trained (and ingrained) in the western medical system and has not—with few exceptions, been exposed to these other disciplines. It is, therefore, your responsibility to do the following:

  • Talk to your friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers to get recommendations for the alternative practitioners where you live.
  • Use Google to identify resources (enter the name of your town and “Chinese medicine” or “Ayurvedic medicine”).
  • Take a Tai-chi, Qigong, or yoga class and talk to the teachers and other participants, as they are more likely to know about Eastern medical practitioners.
  • If you are lucky enough to find a recommended Chinese or Ayurvedic medical practitioner in your area, make an appointment and get a treatment plan.

Talk to Your Doctor About Possible Alternative Approach

Finally, having done all your research and learned about resources where you live—and perhaps even with a treatment plan in hand, go visit your primary care physician.

But do NOT walk in and announce in a grand voice that you already went to another doctor who told you what needs to be done. That will surely annoy him or her and impede your care (especially when he or she finds out that this “doctor” does not have a medical degree).

Instead, be respectful of your doctor’s education and training. Appreciate the pressure he or she feels to adhere to guidelines issued by the established medical societies out of fear of medico-legal repercussions.

After presenting your complaints and respectfully listening to your doctor’s recommendations, then you should mention your interest in Eastern medicine. State that you would like to be treated with a combination of Eastern and Western medicine and ask if your doctor would be comfortable with that approach.

  • Ideally, your doctor will be open-minded, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. If so, congratulations, you have found a unicorn! More likely though, your doctor will be neutral, ambivalent, or even slightly annoyed. That’s OK, you still must proceed. Remember, it is your body and your life.
  • On the other hand, you may encounter a doctor with strong negative opinions about Eastern medicine. If that is the case, and you truly wish for an integrative treatment approach, then the best thing for you to do is find another doctor. Although it might be tempting to hide your alternative treatments from him or her to avoid scorn, it is important that your primary care provider be aware of all of your medications, supplements, and treatments.

With the understanding you now have, you should be able to skillfully navigate the integration of Western and Eastern medicine for your care. Never forget that you are the captain of your own ship and must take the helm!

To-Do: Find Complementary Medicine Doctors

If you’re interested more in Eastern medicine, go to Zocdoc.com and locate doctors with both a degree from an accredited medicinal institution and also practices in Eastern medicine to get the best of both worlds.

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