China Gives Limited Approval to Western Medicine
humor, fictitious, April Fools, author unknown
Sin Hua, China News Agency, April 1, 2001
At the conclusion of a 3-day meeting held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 28-30, an elite panel of 12 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners declared, "There is sufficient evidence of Western Medicine's effectiveness to expand its use into TCM and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value". "In particular", the panel's report stated, "Western Medicine shows promise as adjunctive treatment to TCM. As a stand-alone medicine, however, its efficacy is mainly in the areas of acute and catastrophic care that comprise a relatively minor percentage of total patient complaints."
The consensus report was particularly critical of biomedical research design, since the panel had based their assessments solely on data from randomized controlled trials. Key points of the critique were:
Biomedical trials are designed to determine the mean response to treatment. This outcome is of limited value to TCM practitioners who are trained to devise individualized treatment protocols. Biomedical trials test one drug at a time. This approach is bound to reveal unwanted side effects. In contrast, TCM seeks combinations of herbs to balance out adverse effects of individual herbs.
Diseases chosen for study in biomedical research are, too often, imprecise collections of symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. These categorizations lump together different conditions that are readily distinguishable by TCM diagnosis.
"It is also our impression", the report continued, "that Western Medicine is based in a belief system that is powerfully reinforced by the large sums of money patients and insurance companies are willing to pay for treatment."
"We strongly recommend", the panel concluded, "that patients should be treated with Western Medicine only on a referral basis from a practitioner of TCM".
The most significant recommendation of this group is that only qualified TCM practitioners should be allowed to practice conventional medicine. There should, in effect, be no 'lay' doctors. In light of this, T.C.M. practitioners are advised to acquire at least 200 hours training in order to competently practice conventional medicine.