Traditional Chinese medicine vs Western Medicine

Yin and Yang (C) Gregory Maxwell

All my life, my Chinese parents have told me that Chinese medicine is the best medicine. Now, all due respect to my parents, but I never completely trusted their viewpoint. Also, I’ve always found Chinese medicine very bitter. So, I’d like to know, is there really benefits to using something that tastes so bad?

What is Chinese Medicine?

For over 4000 years, chinese medicine has been based on Taoist principles. That said, Chinese medicine focuses on the treatment of the inner spirit, rather than treating the illness itself. One of the most important concepts practiced is “qi“. Qi is energy that flows invisible pathways or “meridians” is the body. Consequently, blockages of the energy may cause health problems and illnesses.

Yin and Yang

Chinese medicine also uses the concepts of Yin and Yang to find balance in the body. Frankly, Yin and Yang are the exact opposite of each other. However, it is believed that both contain a little bit of the other. What this means is that Yin and Yang are dependent on each other in order to stay in harmony. In fact, yin and yang is quite similar to the push-pull concept in health.


There are a variety of treatments in traditional Chinese therapy. Acupuncture, Tai Chi and Qi gong, and herbal medicines are just the tip of the iceberg.


While western therapies may focus more on body weight, height and symptoms during an exam. Chinese therapies look more into a patient’s behaviors. This process usually involves:

  • Looking: Observing the patient’s movements and mannerisms, speech patterns, and appearance of the tongue, eyes, and ears.
  • Listening: Hearing the sound and of the patient’s voice, and whether it falls into the categories of the shout, laugh, sing, weep or groan.
  • Touching: Feeling the characteristics of the patient’s pulse at different points on the body.
  • Asking: Finding out about the patient’s history, symptoms, concerns and more.

In Conclusion…

I didn’t think something as simple as an herb had so many concepts behind it. But whether I like it or not my mom will probably still force me to eat Chinese medicine. Nevertheless, I definitely won’t mind the taste as much as I used to. I’ll probably still end up in a doctor’s office sometime in my life. But until then, you can catch me browsing herb shops…

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