TCM based on millennia of observation

It could be dangerous to base life-threatening conditions on traditional Chinese medicine treatment alone.
It could be dangerous to base life-threatening conditions on traditional Chinese medicine treatment alone.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

I appreciate the concerns raised by Dr Ong Siew Chey (TCM theories have remained mostly unchanged, April 23).

While Dr Ong has displayed familiarity with the ancient texts on which traditional Chinese medicine is based, the argument in the letter of linking the human body to the elements of nature as a proof that TCM is not scientific might be myopic.

Modern Western medicine encompasses more than just medical professionals at the front line.

It includes researchers at pharmaceutical companies who come up with the drugs that doctors use.

More often than not, these novel compounds were discovered from plants and animals, from the proteins that lowers blood pressure derived from snake venom to antibiotics from fungus and soil, and complex polyphenols from plants that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Rarely are such molecular compounds in Western medicine designed via computer simulation from scratch.

Even in the 21st century, researchers are still relying on age-old remedies that villagers have known for centuries, finding out the exact active compound that make them work, and extracting and purifying them, before synthesising them on a large scale.

Many traditional remedies slammed by the Western medical community a decade ago are in fact the basis of modern medicine.

While TCM might not have an understanding of why a particular method or herb works, it is based on experiences of what works from millennia of observation.

The five elements mentioned in the ancient texts can be understood as an analogy to the human body, rather than something to be taken in the literal sense.

I agree that it could be dangerous to base life-threatening conditions on TCM treatment alone.

However, its effectiveness and relevance cannot be dismissed, even when viewed from a scientific perspective.

TCM and Western medicine need not be conceptually exclusive. They simply take time to converge.

Genesius Ng Zong Ren