As a woman approaches menopause, many would consider whether to take hormone replacement therapy or HRT. There are pros and cons of this therapy which is being debated in Western medicine. Some studies said it led to cancer and some don’t. I’ve came across an insightful writeup by Dr Aihan Kuhn in her book Simple Chinese Medicine- A Beginner’s Guide to Natural Healing and Well Being. She is trained in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine and did an interesting comparison in her book:
Menopause is a group of symptoms caused by hormone imbalance. The body starts to lose estrogen; therefore the amount of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland is elevated. Elevated FSH is the main cause of the symptoms.
The Chinese medical explanation is that as we become older, our kidney energy starts to decline, causing other organ energy (e.g liver, heart, spleen) to decline as well. These organs lose their coordinated functioning, or their teamwork, thus causing the various symptoms. The symptoms vary according to which organ energy is decreased or blocked. If a particular organ is weak, the patient will exhibit symptoms related to that organ. That is why one woman who experience menopause could have different symptoms that others.
In contrast, Western medicine treatment for menopause tends to supply estrogen to the body. This intervention permanently shuts down or dries up the ovaries. It is non-reversible. TCM treatment for menopause strengthens the organ energy and revitalizes the ovaries to enable them to continue releasing appropriate hormones until real aging starts. TCM treatments can restore the ovary function and delay aging. As can be seen, the two medicines takes different approaches. The disadvantage of taking estrogen is the potential for cancer in the future as well as speeding ovarian aging, whereas TCM offers no adverse effects.
– Simple Chinese Medicine- A Beginner’s Guide to Natural Healing and Well Being- by Dr Aihan Kuhn in her book (pg 9)
Of course today you may have heard of horror stories and controversies surrounding TCM due to lack of regulation. Steriods and other dangerous chemicals have been said to be used in medicine causing organ damage. But this does not mean that TCM treatment is a hoax- after all, it has been proven to work for thousands of years.
If you wish to seek treatment for your ailments, you would need to find out about the credentials of the physician, be it Western, TCM or any form of alternative healing. If the practitioner have long term proven results of treating patients with ailments similar to yours without any adverse effects, then you may want to consider seeking out the practitioner.
Do note that most alternative or TCM healing requires a more integrated approach. You cannot just swallow some pills and then expect miracles to happen. You need to be responsible for your own healing. Often when you take Chinese medicine for example, you would also be asked to cut down or completely eliminate certain foods that may interfere with the herbs effectiveness. Or that you are told to give up totally certain food because they are not suited to your body’s disposition. You would also be encouraged to practice qi gong (chi kung) or any form of exercise that increases the qi/ chi movements within your body to harmonise the energy flow within. I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of these qi exercises having experienced the benefits personally. Sometimes one is required to change one’s outlook in life- to learn to relax and have less anger (so that the corresponding organ’s energies would not be weakened causing havoc one’s health). For those looking for shortcuts and did not apply what was being told, they would see the treatment as less or not effective at all.
That is why alternative healing worked long term and is effective in treating chronic health conditions. For acute conditions such as bleeding or heart attack, one is better off getting to the emergency room as soon as possible. Most of our conditions that is bothering us are chronic anyway- and perhaps is acting as a wake-up call for us to take a different approach in life.
Therefore, if we are willing to work towards the healing of our body- in the long run, we would be able to sustain our health better. It take more commitment but less side effects. In the end, the choice is still ours…