|Acupuncture is one of the most widely practiced Chinese therapies in the country and is gaining increasing popularity in the West.
Traditional Chinese medicine is enjoying a renaissance. But there is growing skepticism about the efficacy of its methods from within its own ranks. Dr Heiner Fruehauf, who claims to have cured himself of cancer using ancient healing methods, shares his views with Matt Hodges in Shanghai.
The real threat to traditional Chinese medicine is not fear relating to its use of toxic compounds, but growing skepticism about the efficacy of its methods from within its own ranks, according to a leading German practitioner of the ancient medical system.
This is leading to a dangerous form of cross-pollination that is divorcing TCM from its holistic roots and seeing classical practices become forgotten, says Dr Heiner Fruehauf, who claims to have cured himself of cancer using ancient healing methods.
"One of the biggest problems today is that many doctors teach traditional Chinese medicine, but they don't fully believe in it," says Fruehauf, founding professor of the School of Classical Chinese Medicine at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon in the United States.
"We've reached an end stage, where the real Chinese medicine that is a science in its own right is slowly disappearing, and where we have some kind of hybrid," he adds. "The modern version we have today is really a combination of Western medicine and TCM."
"I was also skeptical at first, and used to mix both myself," admits Fruehauf, who was speaking at a forum hosted by Three on the Bund in Shanghai in early September.
Such thinking has led to a spike in herbal-remedy prescriptions that contain similar ingredients to those clinically proven by Western medicine. By the same token, ancient practices such as Taoist alchemy, pulse diagnosis and qigong－all of which Fruehauf specializes in－are falling by the wayside.
He later became convinced that TCM can be used to successfully cure serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease by drawing on classical precepts. These can be found in ancient texts like the Yellow Emperor's Inner Cannon－a de facto road map for TCM－and I Ching, an even older text that draws on cosmology and divination.
"There are so many different ways of treating diseases and ailments－through fasting, through visualization, through things that you could only explain as magic through a modern perspective. There are hundreds of these forgotten methods that people in the villages and mountains still know, but which are not being taught anymore," he says.