Can Asian Traditional Medicine Integrate with North American-European Medicine? DOC JIMMY SAYS

Manila Bulletin, September 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

Can Asian Traditional Medicine Integrate with North American-European Medicine? DOC JIMMY SAYS


Byline: Dr. jaime T. Galvez Tan

I have avoided using the term western medicine to label the medicine introduced here by the Europeans and North Americans. The terms western medicine and eastern or oriental medicine for Asian medicine are the most archaic terminologies that we have retained in our day to day language. In our planet Earth which is round in shape, there is no east or west. There is only a north and south (as in the poles).

If we use the Philippines as a reference point, east of the Philippines is the United States, which we refer as the source of western medicine. And west of the Philippines is China which we refer as the source of oriental/eastern medicine. So there is really no sense to use western or oriental medicine in our country. I would rather call western medicine by its origins, that is, North American-European Medicine and oriental medicine as Asian Traditional Medicine.

Initially, I was using American-European Medicine. But I was corrected by Latin Americans and South Americans, who have their traditional medicine of the Incas, Mayas and Aztecs. The appropriate term, they say, should be North American-European Medicine.

The other terms used to label North American-European Medicine are modern, scientific, cosmopolitan, and conventional medicine. However, there are objections in using these terms to refer to North American-European medicine. Asian Traditional Medicine has also modernized as in the use of electro-acupuncture, electronic pulse diagnosis and herbal medicines now as tablets, capsules and injectable vials. Many modalities of traditional medicine have been proven to have scientific basis, so North American-European medicine has no monopoly of being scientific.

In the 1980s, the term cosmopolitan was introduced to label North American-European medicine since it was mainly practiced in the big cities and metropolis of the world. However, nowadays, Asian Traditional Medicine is also practiced in urban areas, either because traditional healers have migrated to the cities or health professionals have started to learn Asian medicine and integrate it into their practice.

While I use conventional medicine to mean North American-European medicine, this term can also be controversial since what is conventional in the rural areas could be traditional and indigenous medicine and not North American-European medicine. Nevertheless, since the dominant medical power in the country today is North American-European medicine, the term conventional remains acceptable to use.

Asian Traditional Medicine originates from the three Great Traditions of Medicine, namely, Ayurveda or Indian Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Yunani-Tibb or Greek-Persian medicine. Filipino indigenous medicine is considered a Little Tradition of Medicine since its influence was mainly confined to its boundaries and was not part of a great empire, which has its own indigenous economic, political, cultural and religious structures. …

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