Herbal medicine and acupuncture should not be separated

△ Asian medicine will be an effective medicine in the health care system in the US sooner or later. 사진ⓒshutterstock_marilyn barbone.

As we have more herbal medicine practitioners, more states include herbal medicine in the scoop of practice

By David Park, Founder, South Baylo University

Asian medicine has been widely developed and practiced in unique ways in Northeastern Asia, such as Korea, China, and Japan. In Korea, the medicine called as Traditional Korean Medicine. In China, medicine is referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the Japanese developed its own Kampo medicine.

The most significantly different idea of Asian medicine from conventional medicine is that Asian medicine understands the human body as a whole, not apart. Asian medicine does not classify specialty depending on where the pain is, such as Internal medicine, dermatology, gynecology, podiatry, etc. Even if a patient has pain in certain parts of the body, the pain’s root cause is mostly in the organs or circulatory problem on meridians connected to each organ. For example, we see many patients complain about neck and shoulder pain, especially during the cold season. Traditional Korean Medicine uses the small intestine median to release pain in the neck and shoulder. Because cold weather affects decreasing yang qi circulation on the upper body among yin body typed persons. Therefore, using the small intestine meridian distributed on the back of arms and scapula areas and has fire characteristics in the five-element theory to warm and resolve coldness on the upper body. Stimulating the small intestine is the same idea as conventional medicine prescribes a muscle relaxer. According to Traditional Korean Medicine, having a similar effect from a pain-creating medicine suppresses the stomach function to decrease blood circulation through the body. That is similar to a mechanism of analgesic medicine, decreasing blood flow toward a site with inflammation reaction.

As I explained, Asian medicine uses the interrelations of organs and tries to balance organs to resolve the pain or disease through acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine.

I have seen how acupuncture introduced in the US and how acupuncture education started. Unfortunately, Asian medicine has introduced and recognized only acupuncture treatment without herbal medicine. Asian medicine is a history of developing theories for using acupuncture and herbal medicine. And Asian medicine is thousands of years of accumulated knowledge of applying herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment. But in the US, most people understand acupuncture representing all Asian medicine. In licensing test also emphasize practicing acupuncture treatment more than applying for herbal medicine. Fortunately, in the California licensing exam, CALE asks for acupuncture and herbal medicine. But NCCAOM separates acupuncture and herbal medicine. Also, many states do not allow practicing herbal medicine or do not have rules and regulations regarding practicing herbal medicinal treatment. East coast states do not include herbal medicine in the scoop of the practice of acupuncturists in general.

I understood that introducing Asian medicine in the US was not easy. They needed to show something sensational aspects of the medicine. They appeal to treatment effects of acupuncture treatment, which shows faster treatment effects than conventional medicine as Asian medicine deals with pain. I believe that using acupuncture to introduce the benefit for American people worked. Now it is time to let Americans understand whole Asian medicine with acupuncture and herbal medicine. If the majority population of America could understand the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments, Asian medicine could have an essential role in taking care of Americans in the US health care system.

I also understand it takes a longer time to be experienced in practicing herbal medicine than acupuncture treatment. But if you want to be an excellent and experienced acupuncturist, you have to study herbal medicine. And if we have more acupuncturists with a good reputation among patients, it accelerates the spread of herbal medicine in the US, and finally, acupuncture boards start to consider including herbal medicine in the scoop of practice in the US.