Education and communication required to eliminate misunderstanding against traditional Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine herbs Photo: VCG

The World Forum on High-Quality Development of Chinese Medicine Education, which has held in Toronto at the end of August, once again brought traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to the world stage. More than 20 experts and scholars from 

 various countries joined the discussions, which also indicated that the integration of traditional Chinese and Western medicine will become one of the important concepts for future medical development.

Wu Binjiang, chairman of the organizing committee of the conference and the head of the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (OCTCM) in Canada, said that the conference, with the theme of “integrity, innovation and benefiting mankind,” aimed to help the development of traditional Chinese medicine education worldwide.

Global Times recently interviewed Wu, a senior expert who has dedicated half of his 66 years of medical experience to overseas TCM education and promotion. 

He believed that eliminating the prejudice and misunderstanding of TCM is a long-term task that involves education, trust building, and providing practical evidence and experience.

Chinese acupuncture in particular has become widely accepted and practiced around the world in recent years and more people have recognized its value and benefits. However, the development and adoption of TCM overseas also face some hurdles and challenges, which require joint efforts to advance its internationalization and modernization. 

“TCM originated from our motherland, and now it has gone global, integrating with the economy, culture and other aspects of the host countries, forming distinctive Chinese medicine systems and positively contributing to the world,” Wu said. 

He said that he has been fascinated by Chinese medicine since his childhood, a period when his father suffered from coronary heart disease for many years. “At that time, I dreamed of becoming a famous doctor when I grew up, to help people cope with their diseases and sufferings.”

Benefiting people worldwide

Wu obtained degrees in various disciplines such as traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, qigong and integration of traditional Chinese and Western medicine from multiple institutions, including the Heilongjiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture Institute, Hebei Medical University and Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 
After moving abroad in 1990, he established clinics of TCM and acupuncture in Japan, Hungary, Austria and other countries, and founded the OCTCM in Canada. 

As TCM becomes more popular in many countries, there are more people interested in TCM treatments, including acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage. TCM has witnessed remarkable growth and recognition overseas in the past few decades. 

“Some countries have set up TCM colleges and training institutions, nurturing and training local TCM practitioners, enhancing the dissemination and application of TCM in their regions,” Wu said. 
At present, nearly 200 countries and regions around the world use acupuncture. Among them, the US, Australia, Canada have enacted Chinese medicine legislation on acupuncture.

For Wu, this is a significant achievement that demonstrates the efficacy and appeal of acupuncture as a healing art, as it has a long history and rich culture, and it is a treasure of Chinese civilization that benefits people all over the world. 

In addition, “The Chinese government actively promotes Chinese culture, including TCM culture, spreading TCM to the international community through cultural exchanges and festivals, which have strengthened TCM’s global presence and helped eliminate prejudice.”

Adapt to change 

However, TCM’s development and acceptance overseas also face some difficulties and challenges. 
“TCM is rooted in traditional Chinese culture and philosophy, which sometimes makes it incompatible with the Western medical model. And language is another factor: TCM theory and terminology often use Chinese, so teaching TCM abroad requires overcoming language and cultural barriers, to ensure the accurate transmission of traditional knowledge. 

“That’s why we should actively communicate and cooperate with the international community, share the ideas and experiences of TCM, and promote the integration and complementarity of TCM with other medical systems. At the same time, we should strengthen the scientific research and innovation of TCM, using modern technology to conduct in-depth studies on TCM, improving its scientific value and effectiveness.” 
Since the 1960s, TCM, especially acupuncture has spread widely to various parts of the world. 

“In this process, overseas Chinese medicine practitioners have established a solid foundation and expanded their influence in different countries and regions with their excellent clinical effects,” Wu said. 
Cuba has even incorporated acupuncture into its national health care system. In Asia, countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea have also given acupuncture legal status. In Africa, countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe have also included traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture in the management scope of their traditional medicine departments. 

“These achievements fully demonstrate the charm and value of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, and also prove that traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is an important wealth of human health. We should be proud and encouraged by this, and also continue to work hard to make traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture better benefit the people of the world,” added Wu. 

“We should adhere to the original development of TCM, maintaining its uniqueness and characteristics, while also adapting to the changes and demands of the times.” Being an important part of Chinese culture, as well as a valuable asset for human health, it is necessary to cherish this historical heritage, strive to promote its development and expansion overseas, establish a good image, eliminate prejudice and misunderstanding, and bring benefits to the people of the world.

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