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March 5, 1997

Is There a Role for Traditional Chinese Medicine?-Reply

Author Affiliations

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center San Jose, Calif
Simon Fraser University Vancouver, British Columbia

JAMA. 1997;277(9):714. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330036030

In Reply.  —Dr Hui implies that we pass judgment on TCM "with limited knowledge and little or no experience in the medical tradition." We reported on what we were personally informed of by physicians, scientists, and philosophers of science in China, as well as on what we observed. Although we are not practitioners of TCM, we are experienced in methods of observation and evaluation of science and of aberrant medical methods. Therapeutic claims are not culturally specific, as Hui claims. (One does not need to be a gourmet chef to recognize when one has been served a bad meal.)Hui asserts that TCM is "a medical paradigm complete with theoretical foundations derived from empirical observations and creative synthesis." The quality of those observations is insufficient, based on uncontrolled observations, molded in myth, and manipulated by social influences.Hui quibbles whether or not Chairman Mao denigrated Western medicine in his popularization of TCM