Western – vs – Eastern Medicine

by Michelle on April 26, 2018

I’m sure everyone is familiar by now with the terms “Western medicine” and “Eastern medicine” and take them to mean the difference between focusing on pharmaceuticals (prescriptions) being the “go-to” for treatment of ailments (Western) versus a more natural approach (Eastern).  Even over-the-counter products are considered to be in the realm of Western medicine while herbs and various therapeutic practices are more Eastern. There is a striking difference between the two and hopefully, this can help you decide which is right for you.

There are several terms for Western medicine…conventional, mainstream, orthodox…but it all means the system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.  Here are some pros and cons regarding Western medicine:


  • Best in cases of trauma, serious accidents, broken bones, wounds, necessary surgery, and certain infections; best suited for emergency response situations
  • Completely science-based, focused on drugs, radiation, and surgery to treat symptoms (physical intervention)


  • Not a strong belief that the body can heal itself
  • Most widely practiced in the United States and considered the “standard” or “norm” for care
  • Doesn’t acknowledge alternative forms of treatment therefore not always providing the best care for patients
  • Completely reactive and doesn’t focus much on disease prevention, only treatment AFTER illness is diagnosed; doesn’t often address the root causes of disease
  • Methods can be invasive, dangerous, costly, and side effects can be worse than the original condition

Eastern medicine, also known by the terms Chinese medicine, folk medicine, holistic, natural, unconventional, unorthodox, and so on.  These all refer to a system of health care based on the concept of incorporating vitamins, herbal preparations, teas, body treatments (massage, reflexology, acupressure, acupuncture, etc.), essential oils, yoga, meditation, special diets, etc. to balance the body and bring it back to health and proper functioning through natural means.  Here are some pros and cons of Eastern medicine:


  • Treats the actual cause of the disease instead of just the symptoms with a more gentle, natural approach
  • Focuses on improving the quality of life while treating illness; a whole-person approach
  • It’s safer than mainstream medicine (using natural remedies) and less invasive
  • It is more flexible and changeable according to lifestyle changes of the patient
  • Takes into account the overall health by balancing out other aspects of life beyond the disease
  • It doesn’t contribute to dependency and harmful side effects of the body and mind


  • Limited scientific research (but centuries of practice with noted results exist)
  • Potentially dangerous interactions…when not using caution and mixing with pharmaceuticals or over-the-counter medications; some natural products do have side effects of their own


Sometimes Eastern and Western medicine can both be a part of a treatment plan…especially when body treatments can aid in healing or when certain supplements can improve recovery and tolerance of needed prescriptions.  For example, …probiotics are essential when taking antibiotics to maintain proper gut health and massage can greatly improve the recovery from injury and surgery. There isn’t always one clear-cut answer when it comes to treating illness, but there is nearly always more than one option.  Look into what treatment options are available for your particular situation and what approach you’re willing to commit to. After all, it’s your body and your life so it’s most definitely your choice.




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