Eastern Medicine, Western Medicine, and Christianity

Dear Reader,

We took my son to an acupuncturist for the first time today. He has had a headache for 9 months. And I mean “a” headache. It does not go away. It rarely changes. If you graphed it, it would be a straight horizontal line.

The acupuncturist was talking about Chinese medicine a lot (not surprisingly), and I was thinking, “I am not sure if I have faith in eastern medicine.” But then it occurred to me, “You know what, I don;t have faith in western medicine anymore either at this point.” My son has been to two neurologists. He has been on 4 different prescription medicines. His current doctor has him on 12 pills a day. He is 10 years old (11 this weekend). No one should take more pills than their age. And none of it has helped. In their defense though, I will say that the current neurologist is the one who suggested acupuncture among other things.

Now there is a lot about western medicine for which I am grateful. My daughter has type 1 diabetes. Without insulin injections she would die in a matter of days. A hundred years ago, she would have died. The story of the discovery of insulin is one of the most dramatic and heart-rending in medicine. Children were wasting away, slowly starving to death as their parents watched. And then they were given their first shot of insulin, taken from dogs and not necessarily very pure, and they perked right up. It’s a great story. Read it sometime (DLife used to have it online.) And there are other big victories in western medicine–vaccines that have caused whole diseases to become virtually non-existent come to mind.

But for all that, there is still a lot our doctors don’t understand and can’t cure or even treat very well.

Some of the things I liked about our acupuncturist today were:

-She cared about all my son’s symptoms. He was there for headaches but she also cared about his allergies and other things. Other doctors I have tried to talk to about other issues and they don;t seem to listen.

-She cared what symptoms other family members have. Again, doctors never seem to listen to me when I talk about all the things going on in our house. But it seems to me they are all connected somehow.

-She said “I am a detective and I am going to figure this out.” She approached our situation as a problem–not assuming she already had all the answers. But she also expressed confidence and interest in solving that problem. As opposed to just throwing one strong prescription drug after another at it.

-She said, “I can handle this.” I don’t know if it’s true yet. I hope and pray it is. But I liked her attitude so much better than the doctors who label the disease quickly (and the two neurologists called it different things) and then just throw pills at us in the hopes something will work.

I don’t understand how acupuncture works. I went in with a lot of skepticism. I still have  a fair amount. There is some knee-jerk reaction in me that says “Chinese medicine = un-Christian =wrong.” But I am questioning where I got that. Yes, Chinese culture is not Christian. But a lot of western culture isn’t either. In particular, western science tends to be anti-Christian. So why do I expect more truth from the west than the east? I do believe there is some truth is all cultures. And that God can reveal truth even to those who don’t know Him.

I really hope this is the answer for us. After one treatment, my son reported his headache being a shade less. Which is not much but is more than he has had from other things. I hope it is not just a placebo effect. But we will see. I am willing to give it a try at least.

If you are a Christian who has had acupuncture, I would love to hear your experiences.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I’m not Chinese, I’m not an acupuncturist, but I am a Christian with a chronic, disabling disease.

    It seems to me that God gives us countless gifts. Who is to say he hasn’t given gifts to people of cultures not traditionally Christian? In fact, now that I think about it, is any culture traditionally Christian? *smile*

    That said, there are many Chinese Christians.

    If the acupuncturist is not asking you or your son to reexamine your Christianity, I see nothing wrong.

    Perhaps this is an opportunity to bear silent Christian witness by your respect and willingness to investigate further help for your son.

    That seems very Christian to me.

    Your son is near the age of my grandson who is now suffering migraines. I get it. Please, keep us posted on how he does with acupuncture. Better pins than pills if it can help him!

    That’s my two cents 🙂



  2. Thanks for your comment! We have tried a number of pills so far. He currently takes 12 pills a day which is crazy. I made him a second acupuncturist appointment on Friday. She talked to me on the phone for quite a while again, I really like her. I hope she can help my son out. His first neuro said he had migraines. His new one says it is new persistent dailt headche. I think it migraine that turned into NPDH.


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