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Definitions of Traditional-Holistic-Eastern Health Care Modalities

By Dr. Amada 2-28-09

Conventional medicine primarily attempts to stabilize a person’s medical condition from deteriorating too rapidly.  It seeks to diminish symptoms of illness and does so mainly through using the modalities of medications (pharmaceuticals) and surgery, as well as other procedures. It is capital-intensive and technological.  It excels in crisis management and resuscitation for acute conditions but does not do as well for chronic functional problems neither does it focus much on disease prevention, but rather on early detection of disease.

Extensive use of conventional medicine for chronic functional conditions can promote the development of further disease in the future as the metabolic waste products of medications overburden the kidney, the liver and the bowel and the potential for drug interactions increases the greater the number of medications the patient uses.

Eastern or Oriental health care recognizes health as the dynamic balance of opposing forces.  It utilizes acupuncture to modulate the body’s electromagnetic field, i.e. it clears and balances the pathways that energy flow in the body. 

Chinese medicine recognizes that there is no physical illness without mental/emotional imbalance and vice versa.  Therefore, Chinese herbal formulas affect certain organs (and each organ is associated with a certain emotion) and thereby address physical and emotional imbalances at the same time. In seeking perfect balance, Chinese medicine is by nature preventative, but it also helps to optimize the patient’s current health condition as well.

Holistic or integrative medicine considers the whole patient, both the mental/emotional/spiritual issues of the patient as well as their physical challenges.  It seeks to build the overall health of the patient as well as prevent disease by utilizing nutrition, lifestyle modification, herbs, supplements, homeopathic remedies, bodywork and psycho spiritual counseling. 

Integrative medicine can encompass both conventional and Chinese medicine, utilizing conventional medicine where appropriate to stabilize the patient, and utilizing Chinese medicine and/or holistic medicine to manage the chronic health conditions the patient may have as well at to prevent development of new disease. 

Chinese medicine is, by nature, holistic, but holistic medicine also includes other modalities such as chiropractic care, homeopathy, applied kinesiology, nutrition, massage, colon therapy, etc.  Integrative medicine is inclusive and is logically the branch of medicine that is best suited for managing the entire spectrum of medical care needs from the most acute and emergent to the most chronic and preventive.