There’s no such thing as Eastern Medicine vs Western Medicine

You hear it quite often these days as more and more investments are poured into healthcare, big pharma, biotechnology and research. Things have gotten quite expansile in the recent couple of decades that’s its a complicated mess of finances, insurance lobbying, executive decisions and a lot less doctoring. Perhaps it is only fair that the public see the hospital more as a business than a service.

But as GDPs rise, and the cost of healthcare with it, the average Joe is lost in all the conversation. Let’s say he works hard to pay the bills and to put the food on the table but in all that slogging ignores his body and it takes a toll on him as it naturally would. Let’s say he didn’t opt for any ‘what if?’ premiums because he had other more pressing financial priorities. Now lets say he falls down one day at work after which he is rushed to the hospital only hear that he has a barrage of related symptoms due a cascade of preventable damages to his internal organs. The doctor shakes his head and frets at his lab reports, his x-rays and clinical findings. ‘If only you would have come sooner,’ he says. But Joe isn’t upset that he messed up, in fact he predicted it and to a certain extent felt proud of himself that he still isn’t dead yet. But the more the doctor shows him the more he starts to internalize. Now he is overwhelmed by facts he didn’t want to even know in the first place. Now it has scared him enough that all he asks is, ‘How much is it all going to cost me doc?’

The doctor never thinks about the money because all he wants to do is fix the damage to the best of its potential. But in Joe’s mind that’s all he sees. And it’s not like going to a mechanic, you can’t shop around for the best deals, you just can’t ‘know a guy’ who would get the cheapest parts from ebay and handle it for you. Why? Cause we made it that way. So many regulatory bodies and corporate ties all to better healthcare and keep things simple but in the end people like Joe just feel like the little guy who pulled the short end of the straw.

So what does Joe do? He talks to friends from work, his family and maybe calls a long lost relative he once met at a wedding. He gets a lot of support from like minded people and eventually starts filling up his head with more hopeful alternative solutions; solutions that have promising anecdotal testimonies, that are painless, that promise equal or better results and most importantly cost a whole lot cheaper.

Joe starts to accept certain realities. ‘Maybe it won’t get rid of my problem but what do these doctors know? As long as I get rid of the pain I can continue providing for my family. Science can’t explain everything. Right? Right?’ He looks for validation of his misguided thoughts and unfortunately for him there are millions of vultures who are ready to take advantage of his current situation.

He signs a form and leaves the only place that can actually help him.

This is a caveat that has been plaguing various societies for a while now. Some call it Eastern, some call it traditional and some just call it alternative; the very definition of ‘alternative’ being ‘not’ medicine.

So what has been done to curb this growing metastatic influence? Campaigns? Cheaper subsidized healthcare plans? Subliminal messages instilled into plotlines of TV shows? But has this really helped that much?

Not if an equally formidable campaign comes from the other side and their not even united under one front. So how are they still around despite so much negative press? Maybe the conspiracy theorists are winning. Maybe it’s social media like what happened to the Hillary campaign in ’16. Or is just because alternative sounds simpler. The promises are simple, the prices simple, and the procedures simple. A good word of mouth alone is enough to market these charlatons and their shops and oh do they do well.

The fact that this is a global phenomenon in itself is baffling for many. Of course Eastern people would rather go for Eastern medicine right? As eponymous as that sounds it isn’t at all true. Somewhere along the course of history, many an opinion piece later, as labels were all the buzz in the 21st century, so did the titles of east vs west consolidate along with their philosophies. But a large margin of error was never corrected; a fundamental fact that not all west is scientific and not all east mystical.

If you open your history books you will never find an exact birth date for medicine. In fact it was there long before documented evidence. Cavemen were in fact the first advocates of anecdotes. ‘If the green paste of ground herbs and spices worked for me then they would work for you’. As early civilisations flourished so did their medicinal archives; the Chinese, the Indians, the Egyptians, the Greeks. Some were substantially good like the concept of Greek diagnosis, prognosis and ethics which eventually gave birth to the infamous Hippocratic Oath. The Sumerians had a huge role in pioneering prophylatic medicine among other things and Ancient Egypt developed a highly specialised medical system along with the papyrus which allowed for proper documentation, and passing down knowledge for future physicians. Ancient India gave us Suśrutasamhitā, rhinoplasty, cataract surgery of many others that are just now considered simply Western.

The Islamic civilisations exploded in scientific breakthroughs and together with the renaissance preceding it, man had now been enlightened to a newer version of reality, that they dont already know everything based on their past books and that there is so much more to learn. It was time where all knowledge was to be screened if were truth or just a big fat lie.

Then of course the biggest game changer; the imperialism era. From black oil to plague doctor masks, to the milestone that was the discovery of antibiotics and sterile surgery.

By then too much had progressed in the west and East were left to pick themselves up after the wars. As economies delineated the world to a ‘developed vs third world’ mindset, the strength of western influence overpowered and the east was lost to just honor their glory in retrospect and have pride in themselves of what they used to be.

So a general assumption was made. Eastern medicine was a just shadow that took a backseat along with anything irrelevant even if it might have rooted from the west. Unfortunately the contrary is not given credit for. Nobody calls black oil for syphilis or blowing smoke over a person’s body to heal pain Western Medicine. The influence of Japanese physicians, Arab pathologists, modern surgical techniques and technology originating from todays leading Asian superpowers, China and India are all presented in Western summits and are automatically ingrained into a western philosophy.

So where is the East and West in all of this? Well it simply doesn’t exist. The preferred nomenclature would be Modern vs Traditional. And traditional can also be considered modern if it stood the test of time which means it’s just the matter of real vs fake. So the next time someone says they are going for acupuncture for back pain relief don’t insult them for trying something Eastern because there’s science in that. If someone in the neighbourhood gets a nosejob and is really into Yoga, thank the Indians and if someone is paying tens of thousands dollars for sound therapy to remove their tumor from a brainwave machine, that’s bullshit. Western bullshit.