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Integration of Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine in Clinical Practice

This research article from the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine discusses the past, present, and a proposed model for the future of the integration of Chinese and Western Medicine in patient care.

A research article by Tsang et al proposes that Chinese Medicine (CM) and Western Medicine (WM) cannot be truly integrated until CM has been proven to be effective clinically. If well designed clinical trials cannot demonstrate efficacy, there is little value in expending efforts in trying to integrate the two disciplines. According to Tsang, properly designed clinical trials which demonstrate that CM is effective must be the first step in a transition to integrated medicine.

The article states that there are a number of areas in CM and WM which provide opportunities for productive and collaborative research. In designing these future trials, it is important to incorporate the concepts of both WM disease identification and pathogenesis, and CM syndrome identification and management of the syndrome into research protocols. This will require the collaboration between WM and CM practitioners to share in the development of protocol, treatment, and information exchange and strengthening interprofessional connectivity and leadership for integration.

Tsang further expresses that when CM evidence is established, CM and WM physicians will have confidence to refer their cases to each other and work together for the care of the patients. It will be critical that each discipline work within its own expertise (unlike the present situation which is often a WM physician with a little training in CM or a CM physician with a little training in WM). CM would be recognized as a special branch of medicine practised by specialists well trained in the area, for example, as pediatric medicine is practised by pediatricians. Ultimately, there would be no WM or CM, only medicine delivered by a treatment team and  appropriate for the care of each individual.

Click here to view the full article on Springer Link.

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