Janet Leung 21W.746/Prof. Lioi Essay 2 Final - Rewrite 14 May 2004
What is the modern Western medical tradition, and how do I belong to it?
I feel a cool, tingling sensation on my leg. Where I have mosquito bites from playing
outside at night, my mother has rubbed in White Flower oil. We use White Flower oil to
accelerate the healing of a small sprain, to relieve nausea, to stop a headache. Three years ago, I
fell and had an ankle so sprained that a radiology technician was surprised that it wasn’t broken.
My mom unwrapped my temporary cast every day and slathering the ankle with a thick yellow
emulsion named “Tiger Balm.” A registered nurse, she trained in the Western tradition of
medicine, at that point specializing in orthopedics, but she still turned to Chinese traditional
medicine first, before she would give me over-the-counter medications. While she has rejected
various elements of traditional medicine in the face of proven Western alternatives, for example,
acupuncture versus medical for pain alleviation, she also recognizes the efficacy of some
traditional treatments through personal experience, such as Tiger Balm to increase the recovery
rate from sprains. From a young age, I was aware that there exists more than one way to
accomplish a task, whether in math or in medicine. Brought up in Hong Kong, I grew up in a
synthesis of British and Chinese cultures: language, food, and education. Similarly, my medical
tradition combines the proven techniques of the Western tradition of medicine with alternative
medicine from various cultures. More specifically, I believe in the integration of traditional
medicine into modern Western medicine on a basic level, and the development of alternative
medicines as valid, publicly accepted, and insured alternatives to the current medical system.