The Dallas Acupuncture Blog
Holistic, Alternative, and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dallas
Response to a Comment: TCM is bunk
Categories: Diagnostics, TCM

This week we received a comment as a response to our article on Nocturnal Urination.  We figured the comment was bunk and our suspicions were confirmed when the e-mail address listed by the commenter was reported as unregistered by Gmail.  We decided to post a response anyway, because this rogue spammer addresses some commonly held wrong views about TCM.

Dear Hale Clinic Representative:
   We figure the comment you made on our BLOG as a response to our article on urinary incontinence is probably spam.  Our guess is that was posted by an employee of your marketing department who may have a bit of contempt for natural medicine and is spamming the URL for your clinic all over the web like a monkey throwing feces.  We believe this because you are representing one of the largest integrative medical facilities in the UK and your staff includes TCM medical staff. 

 Even though you are a spammer, your comments represent some widely held false beliefs regarding TCM, so we have chosen to make our response public so that other people can benefit.

The following is a response to the comment you posted to our BLOG this week:
Jerry Betterman 2010/09/28 at 4:02 am

I think until such time these alternatives provide real data and research backing their claims they should be alternatives that we don’t all foot the bills for and those that find them useful pay for themselves. Such treatments are generally about patient psychology and subjective, short term relief of complaints. Such treatments or placebos also have a down side when underlying conditions are as a result not diagnosed or treated more effectively. They are also money making scams for many.

 We aren’t entirely sure what your comments are indicating, but we infer that you mean to say:
 A.) Chinese Medicine is not backed by research;
 B.) The general public foots the bills for natural treatment options;
 C.) Traditional Chinese Medical Treatments only create a placebo effect in the patient;
 D.) Traditional Chinese Medicine/Natural Medicine is a money-making scam and that it does not treat underlying causes or conditions.
If we misunderstand your comments, please feel free to explain further but for now we will answer in parts.
A.)  “Chinese Medicine is not backed by research”

Firstly, please understand that this BLOG is intended for our patients who already have a great, working relationship with our clinic.  This is not an academic site with case studies and research data. If you would like to search a comprehensive database for this type of information then you may wish to refer to the following:
20-21st Century Research:
Chinese Medical News: Evidence-based, Scientific Research on TCM, Acupuncture
Journal of Chinese Medicine
AAOM Online Searchable Database (after registering)
There are also many contemporary researchers who hold both Western and Eastern medical degrees such as John Chen, L.Ac., O.M.D., Pharm.D., Ph.D. who is a well-known pharmacist who has published many books on herbal treatments and formulations that put traditional Chinese medical treatments through rigorous testing and case studies.  John Chen’s book Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology even breaks down the compounds into their organic components (using organic chemistry testing techniques).
Ted Kapchuk is an M.D., O.M.D. who is a professor at Harvard Medical School and teaches Oriental Medical theory and principles. He earned his O.M.D. degree after five years of studying in China and continues to advocate Traditional Chinese Medical approaches to health and healing.
There are many other experts in the field who hold dual degrees in both Eastern and Western disciplines but have selectively chosen to support traditional and indigenous natural healing methods. Interestingly enough, several of them work at your clinic!
2000+ Year Old Research:
There is an exhaustive amount of written material available including classics such as the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic), Ling Shu Jing (Spiritual Axis), and Su Wen (Difficult Questions), and the Chinese Materia Medica.
B.)  “The general public foots the bills for natural treatment options”
The general public does not “foot the bills” for any sort of natural or alternative therapies.  The private patient pays his or her own bills at their own discretion.  In the United States, most insurance plans do not cover acupuncture even for pain management or weight loss and they never cover other modalities such as herbal, TuiNa, Gua Sha, or cupping  (this is opposed to China, Taiwan where these modalities are covered by state health insurance).
Exclusion from insurance makes a real statement about the efficacy of natural medicine. Patients choose to pay out-of-pocket for their treatments because the results they get are unmatched by Allopathic treatments.  Even when it would be cheaper for them to go to a doctor on their insurance plan they select natural medical care because of it’s ability to diagnose, treat and cure many maladies that are excluded from the Western medical paradigm.
C.)  “Traditional Chinese Medical Treatments only create a placebo effect in the patient.”

While it is often true that acupuncture does stimulate endorphins in patients by releasing stagnant  qi, this is hardly considered a placebo effect simply because a patient feels immediately better when they leave the clinic.
I suggest you consult John Chen’s series of books that utilize double-blind testing methods to determine when there is a placebo effect and when there is not.  Placebo effects will occur in the presence of any type of medical testing, natural or pharmaceutical.  Therefore, we must rely on the sector of test subjects who are not subject to placebo to determine the effectiveness of a treatment.  You may also wish to contact Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Shan Dong University of TCM, or Shang Hai University of TCM for case studies and clinical research abstracts.
D.) “Traditional Chinese Medicine is a money-making scam that does not treat the underlying cause or condition.”

Unfortunately, this is a very ignorant sentiment that I have heard before and ironically, it is a reversal of the truth.  Western medicine often treats symptoms without much concern for the root cause of the disorder.  Conversely, TCM uses diagnostic data to differentiate syndromes and pathologies into far more subtle details than Western medicine can possibly accomplish via interrogation methods and lab testing.  Umi Brochstein once described this relationship as follows:

No medicine can treat the cause of disease, because the cause of disease is karma.  The cause of disease can only be uprooted by the diseased person, who is motivated to look deeply and change fundamental causes for problems.

Western medicine treats symptoms, while Eastern medicine treats patterns that lead to symptoms. These patterns are behavioral and lead to interactions within the body that produce reliable symptom-sets.

Relieving patients of these symptoms is a positive action because it helps people be free from their suffering long enough to reflect on their own life, make changes, and possibly extend their energy towards helping others.  If people are sick and suffering, then they cannot help others because they will be preoccupied with their own illness.

Therefore, providing temporary relief in a way that does not further impair the patient or make him or her dependent, is karmically positive.                      
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the relationship between personal responsibility, spirituality, the individual and our environment as inseparable parts of a complete diagnostic picture.  Perhaps this inclusive attitude makes people uncomfortable…. not the lack of scientific research. 

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