The Bridge Between Western and Eastern Medicine by Dr. Janice C. BrownDec 30, 2020 04:11PM ● By Janice C. Brown, M.D., MPH
Two hundred years ago there were no MRIs, CT scans, genetic testing, blood tests, etc. People relied on observation and examination. Nature was their medicine cabinet, as it was all they had access to. Enter the 18th century when manufacturing began, as well as the age of scientific exploration. The pharmaceutical industry was always present in that the local apothecaries prepared the botanicals that were used to cure various ailments.
It made sense that once medications could be manufactured, the apothecaries would sell them. It became more acceptable to get a pill as opposed to an herb or recipe. The world of medicine began to separate. We now have two approaches to health: one that believes in the pharmaceutical industry and objective testing, and the other that is still rooted in nature.
Healthcare is personal. We often want to take care of our health issues before going to a provider. When we do go, we want them to listen and provide us with a solution. But we also may not be upfront about those natural remedies we tried at home, either because we forgot or are embarrassed about talking about them in today’s health care environment. But things are changing. It is becoming more acceptable for disease processes to be treated with both Western medicine modalities and Eastern medicine interventions. The treatment of cancer is one such example. For years, cancer patients have used acupuncture to temper the adverse effects of chemotherapy.
For the patient coming in with low back pain with radicular features, an M.D. trained in Western medicine, but raised with the principles of Eastern Medicine that practices functional medicine and acupuncture can order an MRI to assess for nerve impingement. They can prescribe a nerve-stabilizing agent and refer a patient to a surgical colleagues if need be, but may also enquire about their diet and lifestyle to see where changes can be made to decrease their inflammatory response.
The doctor can provide acupuncture as a tool to modify their pain signals, prescribe herbs and supplements that support their nervous system, suggest stress-relieving modalities that are not interruptive of their lifestyle and work with the patient to determine the etiology of their pain so that true healing can begin.
We need both approaches to health care. Western medicine is about fixing the problem as it arises. We need this for injuries that are acute and unexpected, and many people have benefited from the technology that is available to make this possible. However, it does not focus on prevention. Eastern medicine is about finding the etiology of an ailment as it pertains to that individual. And for those that are healthy, it focuses on prevention and maintenance of health. Ultimately, we all want good quality of life. We want to be able to be there for our loved ones and do the things that we enjoy most; this requires having good health. So whatever camp we gravitate to, be sure to find a provider that aligns with a belief in the same approach to maintenance of health.
Janice C. Brown, M.D., MPH, is the owner of Better Health And Rehab, LLC, located at 2275 SW 22nd Lane, Ste. 210, in Ocala. For more information, call 352-433-9292 or visit BetterHealthAndRehab.com.