Academic Word List

  • approaches
  • area
  • attributed
  • complementary
  • concept
  • contrast
  • distinction
  • evolved
  • focusing
  • functioning
  • identified
  • maintained
  • negative
  • overall
  • philosophy
  • process
  • similar
  • traditional
  • unique

Other Vocabulary

  • absence
  • ailments
  • bacteria
  • defect
  • disharmony
  • existence
  • holistic
  • imbalance
  • intimately
  • invade
  • macro
  • malfunctioning
  • mechanic
  • micro
  • opposing
  • organism
  • reflections
  • symptoms
  • tangible
  • viruses


Please click the exercise link to continue and do exercises 1 and 2.


With your group, look at the work you did previously when you were making predictions based on the reading introduction. Discuss your findings from your website research together and review the introduction below once again.

Contrasts Between Chinese and Western Medicine

Chinese medicine

Every culture or society, even very ancient ones that pre-date written history, seems to have had some form of medicine that has been used to heal the sick among its members. There are some remedies that are no longer around, perhaps because they were based on superstition or maybe the details of the technique are now lost to modern doctors. There are some forms of medicine, however, that have stood the test of time and are still used today. Two of the most popular and commonly used forms of medicine used by modern doctors are what can be called traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Although these two systems share the goal of making people better, they can be quite disparate when it comes to how patients have their illness diagnosed and more particularly, how these physicians view the nature and source of illness in general as well as the techniques they use to reach the diagnosis itself.


Below are the next two paragraphs of the Reading which deal specifically with how illness is viewed by both Chinese and Western doctors. Read them on your own.

Contrasts Between Chinese and Western Medicine

Western Medicine

Because Chinese and Western medicine have evolved quite separately from each other thousands of years, they have built into them reflections of those two societies, in particular how the doctors within each system diagnose their patients. First, a clearer distinction needs to be made about how illness itself is viewed by each system and how they differ. Chinese medicine sees a healthy body as one in which there is a balance that needs to be maintained. This relates closely to the concept of yin and yang, which, according to Chinese philosophy, are two opposing, yet complementary forces within nature that must be kept in balance. As the human body is part of the whole system of nature, when the body has an illness, there is an imbalance or disharmony within it. This could mean an organ is not functioning properly, but this problem is in some way connected to the rest of the body, including the mind. The mind and body are bi-directional systems that are intimately related to each other. Chinese medicine approaches this problem from a very holistic and “macro” point of view where the whole body needs to be diagnosed, not only the malfunctioning part. Because of this, diagnosis is unique for each patient and those who have the same illness may in fact receive quite different diagnoses because the whole body is considered in the process and each person is unique from the next.

In contrast to this Chinese concept of a holistic view of the patient and their entire body, Western doctors tend to have a “micro” view of an organism and its illness. When people are sick, these doctors will view the problem by focusing on a single area of the body that they believe has a defect or is not functioning properly in some way. The illness is not due to any imbalance but from outside forces such as viruses or bacteria that invade and attack the body, so the doctor must find the problem, and much like a mechanic fixing a car, repair the damaged area. Being healthy is not about harmony, but rather the absence of pain or any other negative symptoms of illness. Science and tangible reality will guide a Western doctor’s hand far more than an overall belief in nature’s balance. Patients with similar ailments will most often receive very similar diagnoses and treatment as a result of this as illnesses need to be identified, named, and attributed to as few causes as possible.


College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA). (n.d.). Introduction to traditional Chinese medicine. Retrieved from http://www.ctcma.bc.ca/index.php?id=20

Lisa Li Clinic. (n.d.). TCM & WM: The difference. Retrieved from http://www.lisaliclinic.com/western_difference.htm

Taichido. (n.d.) Yin-Yang theory and traditional Chinese medicine. Retrieved from http://www.taichido.com/chi/taoist/yinyangmedicine.htm


Please click the exercise link to continue and do Exercise 3.

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