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When Two Great Medical Traditions Meet

March 21, 2013

Tzu Chi Quarterly, a publication from the Buddhist humanitarian organization Tzu Chi, features an article titled, “When Two Great Medical Traditions Meet.” This Winter 2012 issue shows how the bridging of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine is being used to benefit the ill at the Taichung Tzu Chi General Hospital in Taiwan.

“In the vast domain of medicine, Chinese and Western approaches to diagnosis and treatment shine in their own way. The first could be likened to a broad-brush, macro perspective, the second to precise, micro pictures. These two broad styles of medicine, when joined, benefit patients more than either can do separately. The Clinical Research Center of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine at Taichung Tzu Chi General Hospital is implementing that vision of collaboration,” writes Tzu Chi volunteer Zheng Ya-ru.

Working together, physicians from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) department and doctors practicing Western medicine treat patients with a wide array of diseases and conditions: colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, allergies, rheumatism, brain damage, metabolic disorders, or disorders of the endocrine system. Head injury demonstrates one of many cases in which Tzu Chi physicians effectively implement the joint treatment of Western and Chinese medicine. Patients start taking brewed herbal medication in conjunction with their Western medical treatment within seven days of a head injury or within five days of a stroke, what Dr. Huang Chung-chun calls the “golden window.” Early intervention and joint treatment, Dr. Huang says, often lead to remarkable progress.

According to Dr. Chen Jian-Jung (陳建仲), Director of the TCM Department at Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital, Chinese medicine can support various conditions such as weaning intensive care patients off artificial respirators and moderating the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients. Some TCM physicians have begun to modify their traditional protocols to include the precision of Western medicine because they understand the advantages that technology can bring.

Another physician, Dr. Wang Jen-shu, licensed in both Chinese and Western medicine, has been involved with the integration of the two branches of medicine. He is now actively promoting the Clinical Research Center at Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital, working to establish a model of cooperation between Chinese and Western medicine, and pushing for the publication of research papers on Chinese medicine. In all, Tzu Chi clinics and hospitals may serve as a model the integration of Eastern and Western medicine in American healthcare to bring the greatest benefit to patients.

Original article was written by Zheng Ya-ru and translated by Tang Yau-yang. You can view the full article in Tzu Chi Quarterly’s Magazine (Winter 2012, pg 72-79) on the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) website.

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