Western Medicine vs Chinese/Eastern Medicine

Western Medicine vs Chinese/Eastern Medicine

  • Arna Van Ravestein

When it comes to medicine, there are two popular types of treatment options: the Western approach and the Eastern approach. While each are considered medicine, the methods of treatment are radically different.

Western Medicine

Western medicine focuses on treating the symptoms of disease. This is accomplished via the use of medications prescribed by a doctor or over the counter. Other treatment options can include surgery and radiation. Care is administered via licensed doctors, nurses, therapists and pharmacists. Other names for Western medicine include mainstream medicine and traditional medicine. Hippocrates is considered the “father of modern medicine,” having written over 70 books more than 2400 years ago.

Eastern/Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has been used for over two thousand years to treat, diagnose, and prevent disease. This type of treatment puts more focus on keeping the entire body balanced and in harmony. This is accomplished by looking at all aspects of a person’s health, which includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Treatments can a wide variety of applications, such as herbal therapy, eating a healthy diet, meditation, physical exercise, massage and more.  

Pros and Cons

While traditional medicine is the most popular type of treatment, they both have their pros and cons.

Western medicine

With traditional medicine, the focus of treatment is on the symptom, so the patient can feel better.  Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin and ibuprofen are examples of pain relievers. If the pain persists, a person may have to take repeated doses to feel better, or the doctor will prescribe something stronger.  

The sooner the pain, discomfort and symptoms subsides in the patient, the better. In many instances, treatment is completed at this point. Unfortunately, this may not get to the root cause of the health issue, and as a result, the symptoms may reappear at a future date.

Another concern of traditional medicine is the potential for harmful side effects. Examples of mild side effects people may experience when taking some medications include the following:

  •         Diarrhea
  •         Constipation
  •         Drowsiness
  •         Headaches
  •         Nausea
  •         Dry mouth
  •         Insomnia
Chinese medicine

Eastern medicine has a two-pronged method of treatment. The first goal is to keep the immune system strong with healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Doing this helps the body ward of disease, or at the very least, lessen the length and severity of health issues when they arise. If a person does become ill, treatment methods will depend on what caused their health issue not the symptom.

Instead of just focusing on the symptoms, an important question that must be answered is why they are sick:

  • If a person has a headache, what’s causing the headache? Stress? Eye strain? Poor posture? 
  • If a person has insomnia, what is causing the inability to sleep? If it’s stress related, what is causing the stress?
  • If a patient has been diagnosed with cancer, what could be possible causes? Poor diet? Exposure to carcinogens? Smoking?

Questions like these and many others are key to determining the best treatment option for the patient. As a result, two people with the same symptoms could have vastly different treatments.

Herbs used in Chinese medicine are generally considered safer than their man-made counterparts, but some have potential dangers as well:

St. John’s Wort

Can reduce the effectiveness of some cancer medications, immuno-suppressants and other drugs.  

Herbal products

Studies indicate arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium aluminum and other heavy metals might be found in some medicinal plants.   

Vitamin C

Taking too much vitamin C could have a negative impact on chemotherapy treatments.

Kava Kava

Often used to ease anxiety, it might cause liver damage.

Which is Better?

 Here’s a side by side comparison of the two treatment methods:

Western Medicine

Chinese Medicine

Manages disease

Maintains health

Focuses on parts

Studies the system as a whole

Standardized care

Individualized care

Relies procedures and medications

Focuses on the body in healing

Analytical and reductive

Synthetic and inductive

Result of clinical studies

Summary of clinical observations

Evidence based treatment

Experience based treatment 


Each forms of treatment have their benefits, and each have their weaknesses. It is up the individual to determine which is best for them. For some, a combination of treatments is an excellent option:

  1. Make efforts to take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, keeping stress levels low, getting rest and exercise. 
  2. At the first sign of illness, instead of treating the symptom, make an effort to determine the cause of your ailment and treat accordingly.
  3. Contact a traditional care physician if symptoms don’t subside after a period of time.  

No matter what type of treatment a person chooses, the key is to listen to your body. If you sense something is seriously wrong, don’t hesitate to get professional treatment. Start taking better care of yourself today. Your body will thank you.

Vivi-Glow - Organic Complexion Tea Blend

A vivi-queen is sending

Vivi-Glow - Organic Complexion Tea Blend

10 Minutes Ago

all the way to Perth