It’s Taken a While…

…But, finally, the Globe and Mail reports that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, will be regulated in Ontario.
While I’m not going to debate the efficacy of acupuncture or herbal medicines – I concede that acupuncture does have some minor analgesic properties – I’d like to address the notion raised by one individual in the article, who is..

..worried that the red tape that will come with the college will scare many traditional Chinese medicine practitioners out of their profession and will mark the end of the industry in a few years.

Uh, yeah. Isn’t the entire point to dissuade those who shouldn’t be practicing from doing so? If you’re reputable, as some individuals quoted in the article seem to be, then this is a way to lend legitimacy to what they believe is a useful practice. If you’re not reputable, if you’re a charlatan, then you shouldn’t be in business.

There are some things that bother me about some ‘traditional’ medicines or practices:

1. The assumption that, since something is traditional, it is proven, and therefore good. Not so. Female genital mutilation is a traditional practice, but who would argue that it is beneficial to women?

2. The co-assumption to point 1, which is that, if something is natural, it is good. Again, not so. Although some herbs and their derivatives are useful, some are not. Cyanide is found naturally in some plants. Some of the deadliest poisons have evolved as defense mechanisms for certain sea creatures, reptiles and insects. Good stuff, huh?

Some may say, “Yes, Flash, these things are true, but Man has created many things that are harmful or detrimental, and therefore unnatural.”

Back off, Birkenstock. If you concede the truth of evolution, you must, by definition, accept Man as a variant of the big category of ‘mammal’. We are natural, part of nature. Ergo, anything we create is natural. All resulting from ‘stuff’ we found in nature – the raw materials for manufacturing don’t come from thin air, after all. Guns, butter, plastics, Milli Vanilli, edible underwear, SweetTarts and parachute pants – all products of nature (however abominable some may be – c’mon, Milli Vanilli? If that doesn’t convince you of the existence of evil, I don’t know what will). We’re just more clever than other mammals in making the raw materials into something that could kill us.

Which is bad. We really need to stop doing that. When we say ‘The planet is at risk’, we mean, ‘WE are at risk’. The planet will eventually recover long after we’re gone, but if we keep creating toxic and harmful stuff, we’re screwed. The Earth will move on without us, without so much as a tear or a sympathy card. Somewhere, the dodo and the great auk are scooching over, making room for us in the Extinction Cafe.

Not all things we create are beneficial, but not all are harmful, either. We from the cult of the opposable thumb have done wonderful and horrible things. Hopefully, we manage to learn from both. Ultimately, what we need the most – compassion for our fellow mammals – is what’s lacking. If the regulation of TCM can stop exploitation, illness and death, I say bully for them. More than anything, we need to protect the vulnerable, and you’re never more vulnerable than when you’re sick.


5 thoughts on “It’s Taken a While…

  1. Flash,
    I’m deleting pinhead’s comments. He’s apparently running some kind of idiotic scam blog and I will not allow him to advertise his retarded shit here.


  2. As for your post – I agree, if there is money to be made in acupuncture (and other TCM) and it’s proven to have some effective elements, then if bureaucracy is the cost of legitimacy, the real practitioners will hang in. Let the fly-by-nights go back into the woodwork.


  3. Another arrow in the quiver regarding “traditional” medicine was the finding in Boston a couple of years ago that about 30% of the ayurvedic medicines peddled there contained, variously, amounts of lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium ‘way over the permissible limit.

    The kicker: at first it was thought this had resulted from contamination during manufacture due to sloppy methods, but it turned out the heavy metals were in there on purpose. Ayurvedic medicine holds that lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium have healing properties.

    It’s… traditional.


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