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Western vs. Eastern Medicine

medine Eastern WesternWestern and Eastern medicine are on the opposite ends of the spectrum from one another. The origins of Western medicine as it is discussed today date back to the colonizing of the western world, while Eastern medicine has ancient origins. Western medicine was influenced by native medicine to some degree, but its philosophy took shape around wanting to be a new kind of medicine, one that deemed itself more scientific than traditional medicines. They are not actually opposites but rather two unique approaches to the practice and prescription of medicine.

Several ways that Western medicine have been described historically are allopathic, evidence-based and traditional. The term allopathic is a way of describing Western medicine as mainstream and a recent trend. “Evidence-based” is a term that has become irrelevant in recent years as naturopathy and holistic medicine have gained an enormous amount of credibility, but the term still reflects a cultural attitude toward the practice of medicine. And lastly, traditional may seem like a misused term when referring to Western medicine, but Eastern medicine was actually thought of as a radical, fringe form of medicine for many years in the Western world, assigning itself the label of traditional.

In Western culture, Eastern medicine has labels such as alternative, holistic and natural medicine. This is somewhat ironic, considering that much of Eastern medicine has stood a longer test of time than Western medicine. The term “alternative” is used in juxtaposition to the term “traditional” to mean that Eastern medicine has long been regarded as an underground way of using medicine in Western culture. Holistic and natural are the more fitting ways of describing Eastern medicine as they utilize many more organic substances and practices than Western medicine does.

Similar values apply to the mental health practices of the east and west. Western health philosophy states that physical health and mental health are not related, where as Eastern health philosophy states that they are inseparable. It is a value of Western health to not intermingle mental and physical health since mental health cannot be quantified, and it is a value of Eastern health to treat the whole person, both their physical and their mental being.

The way we think of Western medicine as opposed to Eastern medicine is changing dramatically right now. The more we learn about the value of plants, organics and intuitive knowledge of the human body, the more we realize that natural medicine deserves as much attention as allopathic medicine does.


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