This chapter investigates the aspects surrounding Chinese medicines and how they relate to dietary specifications. The chapter notes that the art of using meals as medicines dates back to a few thousand years ago. It is also noted that these medical practices touch on the political, economical, and social aspects of the Chinese society. The chapter investigates the physiological efficiency of these medicinal meals.
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The topic being addressed by this chapter is very relevant. This is because the efficiency of Chinese medicine has been questioned on a few occasions. On the other hand its fame has spread beyond Chinese borders. For instance, some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine have been incorporated into conventional pharmacy. The chapter however notes what sets Chinese medicine apart is the fact that it incorporates social and economic factors. However, many people question the effectiveness of Chinese medicine when it comes to curing terminal illnesses. Diseases like cancer and HIV have defied the effectiveness of these medicines. Those who believe in this art are still sticking with the medicines even when suffering from such diseases.
The chapter notes how the Chinese medicine focuses on curing impotence. According to the chapter, this is because the Chinese used to view sexual impotence as a reflection of their society. This meant that they were afraid it would translate to a diminishing society and show individuals’ weaknesses. This premise is an indication of how much the traditional Chinese people connected their health with their other aspects of their lives. In this case, they were afraid that their poor health would reflect on the foundation of their society. This chapter raises more questions on the validity of this time honored art. This is because it seems like the purpose of this medicine was not to cure but rather to fix. Fix in the sense that it did more than serve a physiological purpose.
One can however agree with the issues raised by the chapter regarding the bu methods of balancing the ying and yang in the body. The bu refers to a technique used by the Chinese to administer to the body medicine and food that is meant to help achieve physiological balance. This balance on the other hand helps strengthen the body. It also helps it fight against diseases. The chapter then questions the complexity of the bu technique. According to the article, all these methods of bolstering and supplementing the body for it to achieve a balance are too complicated. The article suggests that the primary purpose of food is to replenish bodily resources but it is not to help achieve some sort of balance. A well replenished body maintains its own balance. This then faults the bu which is a method of “forcing” a balance in the body. This is a very sound argument and it calls for further investigation on the bu technique.
The clinical experience described in the article shows how organized and formal the practice of Chinese medicine is. Right from the traditional times, the experience began with the patient realizing the need to see a medicine man. The patient then gave out the symptoms and the diagnosis procedure was between the medicine man and the patient. The patients even had follow up procedures. This scuttles the premise that Chinese medicine was or is “backward”.
This chapter is a good read and the issues are well laid out. The arguments both for and against Chinese medicine are also very well articulated. The chapter successfully demystifies the fundamentals of Chinese medicine meals.