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Instituto de Humanidades “Alfredo Silva Santiago” Concepción

Subject: English
Form: IV grade
Unit 5 Practice

Name: Date: Class:

Before you Read!

In this lesson, we will read about and discuss alternative medicines and medical treatments.
Before we read a story about Ching Yi’s experience with Chinese herbal medicine, review the
following definitions and answer the questions with a partner.

Alternative Medicine – Healthcare practices and approaches used instead of
conventional methods. For example, chiropractic care, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, spiritual
healing and Chinese herbal medicine (for descriptions of these and other types of alternative
medical treatments see the Health Watch box below on page).

Conventional Medicine – Medicine and medical approaches practiced by holders of

M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health
professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. Other terms for
conventional medicine include: western, mainstream, orthodox, and regular medicine; and
biomedicine. Some conventional medical practitioners are also practitioners of alternative

1. Have you or someone you known received any kind of alternative medical treatment? If so
2. Do you believe in the power of something other than medical science (medications, operations,
etc.) to heal the human body?
3. Are alternative medical treatments common in your culture or a culture you are familiar with?
If yes, please describe.

Alternative or Conventional?
Now read about Ching-Yi and her conflict with traditional Chinese medicine and conventional
medicine and answer the questions that follow with your classmates and instructor.

My name is Ching-Yi and I am from Taiwan. About 6 months ago I was diagnosed with cancer.
My oncologist was very nice and spent a lot of time talking to me about treatment. He said I
would need to have surgery and then begin chemotherapy. But when I told him I also wanted to
talk to my Chinese Doctor in Chinatown about possible herbal treatments, he became upset. He
told me that I could get sicker if I wasted my time with these treatments. So I talked to my family
doctor and he suggested I see someone new, Dr. Laurence. I called Dr. Laurence first to see how
she felt about traditional Chinese medicine. She said it was fine as long as I continued my
treatment with her. I liked her even more after I went to visit her. She had done some research
and said that Chinese medicine can help reduce my nausea during my chemotherapy treatment.
She encouraged me to go, but she said that I must report everything I take and do to her and that
I need to check-in with her before trying some new treatment or herb that might interfere with
other drugs. I feel worried and anxious about my cancer, but I am glad that I am able to use both
Western and Chinese medicine to help fight it.

Health Watch: Alternative Medical Treatments

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Originating in China thousands of years ago, this system
is based on the theory that illness results from the improper flow of the life force (qi)
through the body. Various practices are used to preserve and restore health, including
herbal remedies, massage, meditation, and acupuncture.
Acupuncture is one of the most widely accepted alternative medicine techniques in the
Western world. Licensed practitioners do not necessarily have a medical degree, although
some medical doctors, often pain specialists, are trained and licensed to perform
acupuncture. Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body, usually by
inserting very fine needles into the skin and underlying tissues. Sometimes, additional
stimulation is added with a very low voltage electrical current. The procedure is not
painful but may cause a tingling sensation. (A variation of acupuncture, called
acupressure, uses massage instead of needles.)
Ayurveda: Ayurveda is the traditional medical system of India, originating more than
4,000 years ago. It is based on the theory that illness results from the imbalance of the
body's life force, or prana. Ayurveda uses herbs, massage, yoga, and internal cleansing to
restore balance within the body and with nature.
Homeopathy: Homeopathy, which was developed in Germany in the late 1700s, is based
on the principle that "like cures like". In other words, a substance that in large doses
causes illness is believed to cure the same illness if given in small doses. The remedies
used in homeopathy are derived from naturally occurring substances, such as plant
extracts and whole plants.

1. How did Ching-Yi’s first oncologist feel about Chinese herbal medicine? Why do you
think he feels this way?
2. How does Dr. Laurence feel about Chinese herbal medicine?
3. If you were diagnosed with a serious illness, would you seek help from an alternative
medicine practitioner? Do you think your doctor would support you if you decided to
receive some sort of alternative medical treatment?