Angry Doctor

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How NOT to argue for Alternative Medicine 4

They say in China, nothing is true until it is officially denied by the government...

This little piece of news made it to our local Chinese daily yesterday (emphasis mine):


Idea of abolishing traditional Chinese medicine ridiculed

The Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) have lambasted an on-line petition aimed at getting traditional Chinese medicine withdrawn from the country's healthcare system.

A source with the SATCM said, "The idea of abolishing traditional Chinese medicine is a denial of science."

Zhang Gongyao, a professor with Central South University, recently launched an on-line petition calling for the removal of traditional Chinese medicine from the country's healthcare system. Some netizens signed their names in support.

However, many more people opposed the petition.

Yang Yonghua, a professor with the Hunan Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said traditional Chinese medicine is undeniably a mainstream medical treatment method in China. He pointed out that 50 percent of patients suffering terminal stage cancer opt for traditional Chinese medicine treatments.

A Ministry of Health official said at a recent press conference that "traditional Chinese medicine is an essential component of China's medical care sector".

Referring to the petition, the SATCM source said people who denied the historical achievements, current function and scientific basis of traditional Chinese medicine were clearly ignorant of history.

"Thousands of years of practice demonstrate that people are fond of and deeply trust traditional Chinese medicine. The on-line petition to repudiate traditional Chinese medicine is a farce," the source said.

The SATCM source admitted that there were some cases of businessmen cheating customers in the name of traditional Chinese medicine. They might, for example, mix western medicine with traditional Chinese Medicine and earn money by exploiting people's trust in traditional Chinese medicine.

But shoddy practices such as these do not detract from the scientific value of traditional Chinese medicine, said the source.

Source: Xinhua


Interesting.

If the Chinese government hadn't issued an official comment, angry doc might never have known about this development, and gone and found Professor Zhang's original article and his follow-up piece.

A search on Google and Blogger will turn up many discussions on the topic. They are of course in Chinese, but the arguments will not be unfamiliar to most readers.

angry doc is ambivalent about the online petition - on the one hand it's a way of generating discussion, but on the other hand this is not a popularity contest.

Still, angry doc assumes that the Ministry for Trade and Industry is relieved to know the official stance of the Chinese Minstry of Health.

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5 Comments:

  • Don't you love the "thousands of years" argument? If I am not mistaken, for nearly all those years, the average life expectancy was somewhere short of 40 years. Longer life started with better nutrition and real medicine.

    Cheers,
    Felix.

    By Blogger Felix Kasza, At October 20, 2006 5:30 am  

  • I'm confused. are you for or against this argument?

    on one hand, it's brave but still absolutely ridiculous to try and undermine traditional medicine in a country like China. on the other hand, this Prof Zhang dude may have a point. still, it's not gonna happen anytime soon.

    looks like the Chinese government has done to Zhang what the Vatican did for Dan Brown's fame when it responded.

    By Blogger The Angry Medic, At October 20, 2006 8:28 am  

  • Err....within the western medical world it is well recognized that the major reason for longer life expectancy was sanitation and hygiene.

    It's not medicine.

    Some would argue that with the "better macronutrition" obesity, hyperlipidemia, carcinogen intake etc might have actually caused more death from chronic conditions so medicine does play a part.

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At October 20, 2006 12:15 pm  

  • Yes, it's actually more public health than the direct practice of medicine (like taking medicines) that accounts for higher life expectancy.

    However, public health is itself derived from the science of modern medicine like the Germ Theory and immunology, as well the understanding of effects of chemicals and other environmental toxins on the human body.

    So it *is* medicine.

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 20, 2006 12:42 pm  

  • Felix,

    I love the "thousands of years" argument so much, I wrote a post on it. :)

    By Blogger angry doc, At October 20, 2006 5:09 pm  

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