Keep open mind about value of alternative medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as a form of complementary alternative medicine (CAM), is a unique system of medicine based on more than 2,000 years of clinical application.

While modern science cannot explain the mechanism of TCM treatment modalities, clinical studies have supported its efficacy in many diseases. And so we disagree with the report (Traditional health practices: More harm than good; Aug 15).

As stated in the report, the fact that "not many people know that rheumatoid arthritis can be treated" and that it is often equated with rheumatism shows the lack of public awareness of the illness. In both studies mentioned in the report, the use of CAM included self-administration of vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) TCM drugs. This reflects the prevalence of cases where patients self-medicate in the absence of professional advice, which could result in adverse reactions to the drugs. Rather than discrediting CAM, we see opportunities for CAM and conventional medicine to work together through effective healthcare communication and education. Likewise, seemingly harmless CAM like vitamins, supplements and herbal medicines, should also be taken under the advice of certified professionals.

Mr Chee Hong Tat, in his Aug 2 speech at the Convocation of the Nanyang Technological University-Beijing University of Chinese Medicine Double Degree Programme, encouraged doctors and scientists to keep an open mind to the potential value of TCM. We urge the media and general public to keep an open mind to the potential value of CAM.

Ho Chin Ee (Ms)

Vice-President

NTU Chinese Medicine Alumni Association Executive Committee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'Keep open mind about value of alternative medicine'. Print Edition | Subscribe