Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 11–20 | Cite as

The model of western integrative medicine: The role of Chinese medicine

  • Gustav Dobos
  • Iven Tao
Feature Article


The basic concept of integrative medicine (IM) is that by combining mainstream (biomedicine) with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), synergistic therapeutic effects can be attained. When the methods of mind/body medicine (MBM) are added to this combination, as in Western countries, a new concept emerges that drastically changes the approach toward illness.

It is interesting to note that the joining of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine in the early days of the Peoples’ Republic of China preceded the Western model of IM by almost 50 years. Several elements that make up the key components of IM as practiced today in the West were already present in the Chinese version of IM, and Chinese medicine has played and continues to play an important role in advancing IM. However, one of the major differences between the Chinese and the Western models of IM today, besides MBM and some other treatment options, is that Western integrative medicine (WIM) strictly requires its CAM methods to be supported by scientific evidence.

The therapeutic methods of IM and their applications are many and varied. However, they are most frequently employed to treat chronic medical conditions, e.g., bronchial asthma, rheumatic disease, chronic inflammatory bowel disorder and chronic pain. Other fields in which IM may be applied are internal medicine (inflammatory bowel diseases and cardiovascular diseases), musculoskeletal disorders, oncology (chemotherapy-induced side effects), obstetrics and gynecology (dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, infertility and menopausal complaints), pediatrics, geriatrics, neurology (migraine and chronic headache), and psychiatry (anxiety and depression).

The concept of WIM is discussed here in detail by reviewing its scope and implications for the practice of medicine and focusing on the role of Chinese medicine in WIM.


integrative medicine complementary and alternative medicine traditional Chinese medicine integrative oncology evidence-based medicine Chinese herbal medicine acupuncture 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Complementary and Integrative MedicineUniversity of Duisburg-Essen, Kliniken Essen Mitte, Knappschafts-KrankenhausEssenGermany

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