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Leung 1

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.

Leung 1

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