TCM at a Glance: Science vs Chinese Medicine

Is Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture right for you?

Wikipedia Scholars put an explicit effort to distinct Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture from other medicine that is based upon scientific knowledge. I think it is misleading as it may ambiguously associate TCM to a less predictable and less effective treatment option.

Having said that, that statement are at least literally accurate; The theories and practices of TCM are not based upon scientific knowledge, the theories and practices of TCM are reverse engineered from the practice of immortality.

And knowing such difference often tells you why Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture might actually be your right choice of medicine.

When Conventional Medicine Failed to Satisfy Your Need

Let’s be practical. If I have a single wart and my Doctor (GP) laser it and it never comes back, do I still need to make an appointment with my acupuncturist, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, my second acupuncturist because the first one might not be very good?

The answer is obviously NO. In our current society, we need complementary and alternative medicine fundamentally for one and only one reason, to take care areas that conventional medicine failed to satisfy.

And if this alternative method’s theory and practice are base on the same foundation of knowledge, it is not very obvious how such may offer any alternative result.

Heaven and Earth

I remember my teacher once told us the difference between Traditional Chinese Medicines and Bio-medicines are literally heaven and earth. When our ancestor looking for answers about the mystery of life, they look up in the sky and found answers. When bio-chemist looking for answers about the secret of everything, they look down into their microscope and also found answers.”

Such fundamental difference created two sets of philosophy answering the same question with two very different perspectives. It poetically distinct the holistic approach of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture from the parts and interaction approach of bio-chemist.

The Five Different Types of CAM
I am borrowing information here*. Generally speaking, there are 5 types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: natural products (e.g. fish oils, pro-biotics …etc), mind body therapy (e.g. meditation, hypnotherapy …etc), manipulative and body base method (e.g. massage therapy, chiropractic …etc), energy therapies (e.g. reiki, therapeutic touch …etc) and alternative medical system (e.g. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda medicine …etc.)

Aside from manipulative and body base method, which arguable have some share of fundamental knowledge as modern medicine (the practice of surgery and physical anatomy), each of these CAM, which are so different, offer some different angles that conventional medicine may have neglected. Of course, given my background, this post we will lock our discussion on Chinese Medicine only.

Mercy of Diseases Or Blessing from Lawfulness

When our ancestor looking at this half empty glass, we are talking about the problem of sickness, they have two options. Study the half that is cursed by the disease and prevent it from continuing; Or study the half that is not affected by the disease and make it the case for everybody.

There is no reason to believe they choose one over the other. However, the result of Chinese Medicine is definitely a result from the study of healing power. Through observing the heaven, our ancestor had found orders. They called it Tao.

Things that align with Tao will stays with Tao. Things that do not align with Tao will  loss the blessing to sustain. They will age, ill, deteriorate and eventually enter destruction.

Through living perfectly align with Tao and achieving balance within and without, Taoist  found the secret of immortality. While not applicable to everybody (especially in the current social context) these wisdom can still serve us well when we are sick and not cured by modern medicine.

Comparing it to the practice of medicine which was defined as the practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, Chinese medicine is a practice of identify, correct and prevention of imbalance. Imbalance is the prerequisite of slow and poor healing. It is not equivalent to diseases or ailment. It just happened that the body’s healing power is often beyond our understanding and expectation, thus immediate relief and miraculous recovery happens like our intervention is treating the diseases.


Unlike the practice of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, which can be study and verify through science, the Chinese Medicine System itself is a distinct entity that does not belong to the field of science.

With thousand years of clinical practice, Chinese medicine does has its accountability of fairly safe and effective.

While bio-medicine a lot of time focus on treating of diseases, Chinese Medicine focus on intensify the body’s own healing power.

Given the limitation of any medical system, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture which derived from a total different approach can serve as a possible great alternative when conventional medicine failed to satisfy your need.

Author’s resource box:

Gary Chan, R.TCMP, R.Ac; Gary has been practicing Chinese Medicine all over Metro Vancouver since 2006; He enjoys learning, writing, and teaching when he is not practicing holistic medicine. He also has passion about spirituality, mystic art, mathematics, and feline.

* [1] Wong, K. (2017, Nov 04). 5 Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from