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Understanding traditional medicine

2012/05/26 | 55 views |  | Permalink | Source

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By Jang Su-hee

For people who haven't experienced the benefits of acupuncture, the idea of having needles poked into the body is a strange, uncomfortable form of medical treatment.

At least when we undergo blood tests, the needles used are much thicker to reduce discomfort. Those who have yet to try acupuncture sometimes think the oriental treatment is rooted in superstition and is merely a placebo.

Ted J. Kaptchuk mentions in his book "The Web That Has No Weaver", that East Asian medicine has made a dramatic and unlikely migration. No longer confined to locations such as Seoul, it has become a vibrant component of health care"'.

To overrule that prejudice, various institutions, doctors and scientists are publishing significant statistical data proving its scientific efficacy.

Interestingly, when treatment is unsuccessful, people don't blame the medicine itself, but rather the incompetence of their doctor, so they look elsewhere for help. On the other hand, some who doubt acupuncture before receiving treatment leave clinics relieved of pain and other ailments.

Growing up in a home that preferred not to rely on the local pharmacy, the only medicine kept there was ointment used for cuts after children's scuffles. There were no fears of having to visit cold, white concrete buildings full of tall grown-ups with unwelcoming looks.

The only hospital visits were for annual immunization shots. Catching a cold was a fun time to play. I would be put under a heavy blanket for some hours to sweat it out.

A body temperature higher than 38 degrees did not portend a trip to the hospital, instead I would be asked to drink hot water and stay under a heavy blanket in a state of constant perspiration.

Amazingly, chills, headaches, feeling heavy, body aches, tiredness and high temperatures would return to normal the next day after sweating out the flu. This home remedy is, in fact, one of the treatment methods used in Korean medicine. There is a need to explain and understand the root causes of disease.

The healthy body, in Korean medicine, is defined as in a state of harmony between yin and yang.

However, this ideal condition can be thrown into disharmony by factors such as certain foods, alcohol, the "seven emotions", and six meteorological factors.

According to "The Nei Jing", the earliest book on Chinese medical theory compiled around 100 B.C., these include climate conditions such as cold temperatures, windy weather, hot summer heat, all of which affect yin and yang and can lead to the manifestation of various symptoms.

When you catch a cold, the body shows fever symptoms such as chills, headaches and body aches.

By trying to protect the body, the protective "qi", or life energy, tries to fight off a cold virus by sweating it out as part of a process of repelling excess energy. Acupuncture and herbal medicine may help this.

The writer practices traditional Korean medicine at Nasaret Oriental Medical Hospital in Incheon.
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