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The Practical Herbalist

Different Measurements

There is the assumption that medicine is monolithic, that there is only one way to assess and define what is the nature of disease. Many things in life including health can be measured and defined in many ways. We must be clear about our assessments and what they can and cannot say about the conditions we are evaluating.

All forms of medicine treat the patient based on what is the assessment of the situation by the rules of that medicine. For example if you have a bacterial infection then the treatment is to use an antibiotic. It is inappropriate to say we have antibiotic herbal medicines, because they were never defined in that way. You may use a "cooling herb" when the patient shows signs of "heat" such as fever and redness, which could be a bacterial infection. However the herbal diagnosis of "heat" encompasses more than the narrow indication of bacterial infection.

I like to use the example of the two predominant measurement systems in the world. English units and metric. If for instance I measure a space on a wall as being just a little over 39 and 1/3 inches, not quite 39.5 and more than 39.33, then finding the exact midpoint is not obvious and takes a bit of math. If however I measure the space in metric I would find that the space is exactly 1 meter, and thus the mid point is 1/2 meter. The answer is much more obvious. The space did not change, only the definition changed.

Different forms of medicine, have different ways of defining what is going on. That does not make them wrong, only different. Different forms of medicine provide a different view point and sometimes better answers based on the definition. There have been many times where I have seen patients who have gone through many medical specialists who are unable to explain the what is going on. Yet when evaluated through oriental medical definitions, the answers become obvious. Nothing about the patient changed, only the way we looked at it. When it comes to your health it is important not only to get a second opinion, but also to get a different opinion.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066