Did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments such as acupuncture can be delivered together with Western medicine for an integrative, best-of-both-worlds approach to health? This combination underpins One Wellness Medical, a holistic healthcare practice in Singapore. We find out more, and discover how their integrative approach looks in the case of three common health concerns.
What is integrative medicine?
Western medicine focuses on identifying the cause of an ailment and alleviating the current symptoms with medication. Eastern medicine, on the other hand, is more concerned with enhancing the body’s natural defences to prevent disease from reoccurring. Integrative medicine is a combination approach. It includes conventional Western medical practices – including drugs and surgery – and complementary therapies that are not part of traditional Western medicine. This includes TCM and other Eastern therapeutic practices.
Integrative medicine in action
This concept of synthesising the best of both traditions to achieve the greatest possible patient outcome is what One Wellness Medical is all about. With two locations now open in Singapore, the practice offers preventative and family medicine enhanced with TCM herbal medication, acupuncture, cupping therapy and other ancient Eastern healing practices.
So, what does this combination approach actually look like when put into action? Here, DR PENNY TAN and physician PEH WEI JIE walk us through typical Western and Eastern treatments for three common health concerns, and explain how they work hand-in-hand to bring each patient a personalised, East-West combination approach.
Patients are asked to keep sleep diaries, detailing sleep disturbances and other information that can help with a tailored treatment plan. Treatment also involves making the appropriate lifestyle changes to ensure good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and activities that promote good quality sleep. This includes keeping the bedroom dark and quiet, exercising daily, not watching TV in the bedroom, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol within six hours of sleep.
There are certain acupuncture points – particularly near the ankles and wrists, and below the earlobes – that can promote deep relaxation. So, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs are normally combined, says Peh. Sour date seeds may even be used to nourish the two organs responsible for sleep – the heart and liver.
Integrative medicine would likely include lifestyle changes, acupuncture and TCM herbal medication before any sleep aids are prescribed.
Migraine medications are often prescribed to relieve the pain. Avoiding certain factors that can trigger headaches is also encouraged. Triggers may include certain foods, lack of sleep or stress, for instance.
Additionally, Dr Tan says biofeedback, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation therapy are effective treatment options that can be used in conjunction with medication.
In TCM, a headache is classified according to its origin and the meridian channels causing the headache. Causes may include external environmental pathogens such as invasion of external wind, cold, heat or dampness; or, body imbalances in the internal environment such as stress and fatigue. TCM herbal medication, targeted acupuncture and the massage system known as tuina can be used to restore the body’s qi and blood balance. This, in turn, reduces the frequency of chronic headaches, says Peh.
An integrated approach would likely entail avoidance of triggering factors and medication for immediate pain relief, with regular TCM treatment to prevent future migraines from occurring.
Lifestyle modifications can be made to lower blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. These include weight loss, reduced alcohol intake, quitting smoking, reducing sodium intake and increasing exercise. Also, blood pressure can be lowered with medication, says Dr Tan.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can aid in the dilation of blood vessels and enhance circulation in the brain. This can help regulate the cardiovascular pathways, and reduce symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and palpitations, says Peh. What’s more, TCM medication can be used to correct deficiencies in the liver, spleen and kidney meridians.
Integrative medicine would likely prioritise medication, and lifestyle and dietary changes, and use TCM and acupuncture as complementary tools to boost the body.
One Wellness Medical
CBD: #03-14 SBF Medical Suites, 160 Robinson Road | 6904 1671
East Coast: 112 Katong Mall #04-19, 112 East Coast Road | 6568 0320
This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!