5 Key Differences Between Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine

Gandhi once said “It is health which is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver” and as time moves on, more of us seem to be seeing the value in having an active interest in our well-being.

But should we fall ill, there are two fields of medicine that have their advocates, Western and Eastern medicine.

Read on to find out 5 key differences.

1. Different Schools of Thought 

Stemming from ancient Greek practices, the philosophy behind Western medicine lies in understanding the body from a physical standpoint. As we are made up of the same parts of the body, analysis and understanding of our bodies give the basis for how all should be treated.

Eastern medicine focuses on the mind and the spirit as well as the physical body. Chinese and Ayurvedan medicine give as much importance to the body’s energy and mental state as they do any physical symptoms.

Therefore, treatment may vary from person to person for the same condition.

2. Studies or Experience

The foundation of Western medicine is scientific research backing up the treatments used. For example, all types of medication go through rigorous testing procedures.

Constant studies are being made on every facet of treatment, which gives doctors the confidence to make recommendations on how to treat patients.

In contrast, Eastern medicine is time tested.

Whilst there may not be as many scientific studies done that back up the reasons why a certain treatment works, there is the powerful and undeniable evidence of patients improving after receiving treatment. In many cases, some practices have thousands of years of use.

Many thought this was down to a placebo effect, however more and more professionals believe that physiological change can be seen when someone uses Eastern medicine.

3. Treatment Methods

Upon a visit to a Western doctor, the means of treating most conditions is through prescription drugs and medical procedures. The effectiveness of such methods is very often irrefutable, ask anyone with a toothache who takes antibiotics or paracetamol for a headache.

There is a concern, however, about the long-term effects of drugs on the human body.

Eastern medicine uses nature and the body itself to treat patients. Practitioners use herbs, spices, oils, and the like as they see links between nature and our bodies. Also, treatments such as acupuncture and practices such as tai chi would be included in the world of Eastern medicine.

Something mixing aspects of both philosophies is chiropractic care. Once viewed as an alternative medicine it is now considered to be a part of mainstream Western medicine.

4. Treatment Focus 

One of the main benefits of Western medicine is its effectiveness in combating symptoms of illness and disease.

But this could be the principal objection towards this field as well. Western medicine can be reactive, aiming only to cure when one falls ill.

With Eastern medicine, the focus is clearly on preventative measures.

You are often advised on things to do and practices you can take up to maintain good health, other than just to eat well and exercise. Additionally, it is not uncommon for healthy patients to seek treatment regularly, checking in so to speak, knowing that they will receive personalized attention.

5. Emergency Care 

The last area that sees a marked difference in Western vs Eastern medicine is in the case of emergencies.

Given the focus on the long term health benefits for the patient, Eastern medicine is not as effective in emergency care.

Western medicine and practices such as surgeries and medication are vital in cases when someone’s life is in the balance.

Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine: What Is the Best Option for You?

As time moves on it is clear that there are great benefits to both fields of medicine. It is increasingly common for Western doctors to refer patients to practitioners of Eastern medicine or to use treatments that fall into this category.

The most important thing to remember is that, as consumers of these vital services, the main benefit of having more options is you get to choose based on what works best for you.

If you enjoyed this post please be sure to check out our other articles on healthcare.

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