Traditional Chinese Medicine, believed to be one of the oldest in the world, extends back to the book Huangdi Neijing, believed to have been published around 300 BCE. This book laid the foundations for Taoism, and established concepts like qi, harmony between yin and yang, and even the connection between the heart, pulse, and circulatory system. Seemingly antithetical to the primeval beliefs of many Eastern Medical Practices are the comparatively new ideas in Evidence-based medicine, which began emphasizing the need to document and prove the effectiveness of any treatment in 1991. Separated by a gulf of nearly 2300 years, is it possible for these two fields to coexist, let alone coalesce?
Integrating Eastern Medicine with Western Standards
Most ideas humanity espoused 2000 years ago have fallen out of popularity. We no longer subscribe to the idea that the Earth is the center of the universe or that angry gods cause earthquakes and thunderstorms. Eastern Medical practices have not only managed to persist, but they are thriving all over the world. Attempts to fuse these medical practices go back to the 1970s, and the combined effect of the two has shown higher rates of effectiveness in combating major illnesses. To maintaining this level of longevity and ubiquity is impressive, but in the past several years there have been increased pushes to prove the effectiveness of Eastern Medicine.
Evaluating the Evidence in Eastern Medicine
At the moment, there is very little evidence-based science being applied to Eastern Medicine, but there are ways to change this. The primary concerns that evidence-based medicine can address in Eastern Medicine are safety, efficacy, and uniformity of treatment. That being said, it is important for evidence-based medicine to adapt to what Eastern Medicine, allowing for data to be tracked without altering traditional practices. By standardizing practices through evidence collection and data analysis, a grading system could lead to successful harmony between the two fundament tenets of Evidence-based medicine: the “Hierarchy of evidence” and “The insufficiency of evidence alone.” This may help standardize Eastern Medical Practices all over the world, maximizing safety and efficacy.
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