March 5, 1997

Is There a Role for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Author Affiliations

UCLA School of Medicine Los Angeles, Calif

JAMA. 1997;277(9):714. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330036029

To the Editor.  —While I agree that there are many inappropriate claims being made for many therapies in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and conventional Western medicine in and out of China, we should be wary of passing judgment on other systems of healing, eg, TCM, with limited knowledge and little or no experience in the medical tradition we are trying to evaluate. We must be critical; at the same time, we should always be open-minded, especially when considering world views different from our own. Traditional Chinese medicine is, for those who have mastered it, a medical paradigm complete with theoretical foundations derived from empirical observations and creative synthesis.The assertion that Mao and the Communist Party promoted barefoot doctors and traditional healers over Westerntrained physicians because of prevailing socioeconomic conditions at the time cannot be denied. However, Drs Sampson and Beyerstein1 are incorrect in claiming that "the Communist Party