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What is the difference between TCM and Conventional Medicine?

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Conventional Medicine, sometimes called Western Medicine, is the medical system being practiced and accepted by current mainstream society. Although Western culture has been practicing medicine for thousands of years, Conventional Medicine, which is based on modern biology and chemistry, began only with the advancement of modern science during the Age of Enlightenment. Utilizing new ideas and equipments, Western physicians and scientists have built a new medical system that has became the conventional medicine of our modern society. Contrasting TCM and Conventional Medicine, the main differences are:

Conventional MedicineTraditional Chinese Medicine
Conventional Medicine utilizes a reductionist approach. It believes the complexity of human body has to be broken down into smaller units to understand it. Once the smaller units are understood, bigger picture can be assembled from the small pieces.TCM utilizes a holistic approach. It believes the human body cannot be studied broken down because each part is dynamic and interdependent with other parts. Therefore the only way to study human body is to observe the whole system and try to see the whole picture.
Conventional Medicine sees human body using a bio-chemical model. It sees human body ultimately as composed of bio-molecules. Hence illnesses need to be treated mainly with bio-molecules.TCM sees human body as a gathering of flowing energies. These energies are dynamic and interdependent. No only are the energies in human body interdependent, they are under constant exchange with the natural environment.
Conventional Medicine emphasizes on utilizing modern technologies and equipments to accurately measure the parameters of human bodies.TCM emphasizes on utilizing the doctors’ own sensory organs to gauge patients’ overall conditions.
Conventional Medicine typically uses chemical or surgical methods to remove the cause of illnesses. When the removal of antigen is not possible, it tries to keep the dysfunctions within an acceptable range.TCM typically uses natural materials or physical stimulation (like acupuncture and tui-na) to rebalance the body. It tries to promote the body’s own healing power instead of manipulation and control.


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