Those who have experienced both Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), whether as medical practitioners or as patients, will notice one not immediately apparent difference: while Western medicine has a mechanical view of human health, TCM has a holistic view. What does this mean?
In his writings, preacher Herbert W. Armstrong said that Western medicine can seem less about health and more about sickness. This is because many of its philosophy seems to view the human body as a machine, say, a car, that breaks down, occasionally or often, and the doctor’s job is simply to fix it.
What happens when a car gets old and starts breaking down? Its parts get repaired or replaced. What if a car begins to look old? It gets new accessories or a new paint job. But finally, when it gets really old and out of shape, the car is junked or kept in storage: something reminiscent of a nursing home, right?
Well, TCM is different in that it views the human being as part of nature, part of a larger reality. When the human body gets sick, it means it has someone gone out of alignment, out of the flow, of the natural order. And since a human being is interconnected with nature, and the human body’s organs are also interconnected, one cannot fix a body part by part. Healing must affect and permeate the entire human being: body, mind, and spirit. Only then can one say that health has been restored.
The holistic way
TCM does not look at sickness as an enemy to be fought. It does not look at aging as an enemy either. Rather, it sees old age and disease as part of the natural order. That said, it does not necessarily mean that TCM simply allows a patient to get sick, grow old, and die.
Instead by looking at illness and old age as part of a natural order, TCM is not focused on just a particular body part and using any and all means, even aggressive, powerful means, to fight illness and aging.
For example, take a look at how Western medicine treats cancer. It uses toxic chemicals in therapy. It uses surgery. It uses dangerous doses of radiation. And all these targeting body parts of already weakened and very ill patients.
Contrast that with TCM, which takes a look at a patient’s diet, his overall lifestyle, and even his thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, as these are all seen as contributing to the cancerous condition. Cancer is not seen as an “enemy” but as a consequence of living a life that’s out of sync with nature.
This is why TCM also uses treatments and tools based on nature, following the philosophy that nature can heal itself when given the right conditions to do so.
Meeting Dr. Hanh
This philosophy is what guides Dr. Mia Hanh Nguyen in her practice. She’s an expert in TCM as well as a licensed acupuncturist in the US State of California, where she heads Longevity Eastern Medicine. She is also certified by the California Board of Cosmetology as a licensed esthetician.
Dr. Hanh said her calling to be a doctor of TCM began when she was a child. She experienced firsthand how effective these ancient TCM treatments can be:
“I recall an incident when I was eight years old. I was at home with a bad flu. My grandmother immediately treated my illness by performing gua sha. This involved repeated scraping or coining on the skin to release the inflammation, which in my case was dark red and looked like welts running down my back. Once the sha or inflammation had been released, my fever subsided and I returned to school the next day.”
But then the marks on her back were seen by classmates and teachers. They assumed the worst, that she had been physically abused. Her parents were called in, but they managed to explain that it was all part of an ancient medical procedure.
“This vivid memory, along with other traditional remedies that were applied by my family over the years, really stuck with me. I was very much inspired, which is why I decided to study the ancient field of medicine I grew up with,” Dr. Hanh explained.
Eventually, Hanh graduated magna cum laude from the number one rated acupuncture school in California (and number two in the US): Emperor’s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. After six years in that institution, she finally earned her Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) degree.
As a doctor, she specializes in acupuncture, biomedicine, oriental medicine, Western nutrition and Chinese herbal medicine.
“The DAOM program’s core emphasis was on reproductive medicine, cardiology, oncology, sports medicine, and stroke rehabilitation. My thesis consisted of a two-year research program on the effectiveness of acupuncture for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats,” she said.
Dr. Hanh also completed other medical programs, including one at the gynecology, orthopedics, and pediatrics department of the China Medical University Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan.
Whole person healthcare
Health, long life, youthfulness, and happiness—who wouldn’t want to have all that? These are precisely what Dr. Hanh hopes to provide for her patients, through her expertise. All of them, Dr. Hanh said, are interconnected: humans cannot have any of them without the others, which is why she believes in a holistic approach to her practice.
For example, Dr. Hanh offers a natural anti-aging treatment that many are now turning to as an alternative to Botox and dermal fillers. The treatment is called “constitutional facial acupuncture”. But it is a holistic treatment that goes beyond simply helping a patient look younger. Dr. Hanh’s expertise in this treatment is certified by an internationally recognized program.
“The signs of aging that we see on the face are simply a reflection of the overall health of the body, mind, and spirit. So, in order to reverse the effects of aging and regain youthfulness, we need to restore not just the face, but the entire person to good health,” she explained.
Dr. Hahn said the “constitutional” part of the treatment is something missing from conventional treatments like Botox and fillers, as these are purely cosmetic, without further health benefits. According to Dr. Hahn, what we see as signs of aging are really manifestations of underlying health issues the body’s organs. So these issues are also addressed by the treatment, resulting in better overall health.
Patients who undergo constitutional facial acupuncture will have clear skin, diminished wrinkles and erased fine lines, as the face becomes smoother, softer, and plumper. However, they would have to make adjustments in their lifestyle, for example, eating the right diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, managing stress, if they are to get and maintain maximum results.
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