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Leung 8

al., 70). One study showed that while five out of seven acupuncturists diagnoses the same illness,

the prescribed treatments varied greatly (Zhang, et. al, 67). In modern Western medicine, the

disparity may be interpreted as malpractice, but the subjectivity is inherent in the Chinese model,

the same way objectivity and empiricism is inherent in Western medicine. Both models can exist

and contribute to healthcare.

Unfortunately, the modern medical tradition is empirical and desires a single remedy for

a diagnosis. It often disparages other, less scientific traditions. China, the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and Viet Nam are the only countries considered by

the World Health Organization to have an integrative health system, where traditional medicine

“is officially recognized and incorporated into all areas of health care provision” (WHO, 18).

However, even in these countries, the incorporation is not equal. Instead of synthesizing the two

traditions into a new medical tradition, the value of Chinese medicine is judged by Western

standards, and found to be lacking because of its inherent inability to conform to Western

medical science because of its subjectivity. Western medicine relies on technology to diagnose,

consistent diagnoses for similar symptoms, and set regimens of treatment. Chinese traditional

medicine relies on the unenhanced senses to diagnose, is more conceptual in diagnosis (which is

grounded in the classical Chinese philosophies of yin and yang, the Five Elements, etc.) and

treats each patient separately, with no one set course of treatments and prescriptions. Often,

illnesses are attributed to non-physical factors: when I have a sore throat, my mom tells me not to

eat fried foods because they are “hot” (in a non-temperature sense) and thus exacerbate my sore

throat. To a Western doctor, this advice may seem nonsensical but helps with my sore throat and

following it also leads to better nutrition and generally better health. Further, analysis of the

various contributing elements of my life also treats me as a whole, rather than a single symptom

Leung 8

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