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Fri Sep 12, 2014, 01:08 PM

The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great


"A mythology has grown up around traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The ancient wisdom of the inscrutable Orient supposedly helped patients in ways that modern science-based medicine fails to understand or appreciate. A typical claim found on the Internet: “The ancient beliefs and practice of traditional Chinese medicine have been healing people for thousands of years.”

As Steven Novella has said, “TCM is a pre-scientific superstitious view of biology and illness, similar to the humoral theory of Galen, or the notions of any pre-scientific culture”. TCM really hasn’t been doing a creditable job of healing people for thousands of years. A book that was brought to my attention by one of our readers (thank you!) provides a unique insight into what Chinese medicine was really like circa 1900. I wish everyone who believes in ancient Chinese medical wisdom would read the chapter on Chinese medicine in this book. It provides a much-needed reality check.

Dugald Christie was a Scottish surgeon who served as a missionary doctor in northeastern China from 1883 to 1913. He wrote the book Thirty Years in Moukden. 1883-1913. Being the Experiences and Recollections of Dugald Christie, C. M.G. In providing medical care to Chinese patients, he initially met with strong resistance. People were suspicious of foreigners and spread vicious rumors about their evil doings. After he cured the blind with cataract surgery and helped patients the local doctors had failed to help, the community gradually realized he had something to offer that was far superior to what they were used to. Not just patients; people started flocking to his hospital to learn how to do what he did, and he eventually established the Mukden Medical College (still operating today under another name) to train Chinese doctors in Western medicine. During his 30 years in China he had ample opportunity to observe the practice of TCM.

The book is available online for free, but I’ll save you the trouble of reading it and describe the illuminating historical account of TCM in its pages. It serves as a reality check to those who believe in acupuncture, in “ancient wisdom,” and in the efficacy of non-Western medical practices.


Yet another book for me to read!

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Reply The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great (Original post)
HuckleB Sep 2014 OP
Archae Sep 2014 #1
HuckleB Sep 2014 #2

Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Fri Sep 12, 2014, 01:12 PM

1. Mao was responsible here, also.

The "Traditional Chinese Medicine" was part of Mao's propaganda against us in the "decadent west."

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