Cleveland Clinic among first in U.S. to open hospital-based Chinese herbal therapy clinic

Our Memorial Day post on health freedom promised some good news on the herbal medicine front, so here it is: The prestigious Cleveland Clinic has opened its own Chinese herbal therapy center.

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It is encouraging to see that at least one so-called “mainstream institution” recognizes that many in America can benefit from the long and proven history of Chinese herbal medicine. (Sadly, Europe continues to go the opposite direction by legislating both traditional Chinese and Indian practices off the continent.)

Cleveland Clinic, as the name suggests, has a main campus in Cleveland, Ohio, but also has hospital locations in several other states and Canada. It boasts a long list of prominent supporters—including President Barack Obama. Though having prominent supporters is not critical for the implementation of a regular hospital, it is certainly an important consideration when a “mainstream” institution takes the plunge into implementing a full-scale alternative treatment center.

It is an unfortunate situation, but traditional/herbal medicine is still widely villified by mainstream medicine, so, by having prominent supporters, like the president, Cleveland Clinic is able to gain much wider acceptance of its practices.

In reference to the opening of the new clinic, Melissa Young, M.D., internist and integrative medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic stated: “Today’s patients are looking for a medical model that addresses both prevention and treatment of chronic disease using natural approaches in combination with Western medicine.”

With that in mind, the Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic offers this new avenue for patients interested in a holistic approach to their care in a safe and effective manner. At the Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic, herbalists will prescribe blends based on research which has shown that herbs may be used to help manage diabetes, decrease cold/flu symptoms, manage chronic pain, increase energy, improve breathing, digestion, sleep, and menopausal symptoms, and help address menstrual cycles if infertility is an issue.

Though this is great news on the alternative/herbal medicine front in America, there is one stark difference between Cleveland Clinic’s approach to herbal treatment compared to Traditional Chinese Medicine use in China: where it is placed in the heirarchy of treatment.

Cleveland Clinic’s own press release states, “Herbal therapy is best suited for patients who present multiple, complex symptoms, have exhausted other medical treatment options, need additional therapy to counteract prescribed medications, or are overall interested in integrative preventive medicine.” But in China, Traditional Chinese Medicine is most often sought first. Especially for the types . I have seen this first-hand during my own time in China. Western medicine may be sought after for brain surgery, but, for most conditions—especially colds, flus, aches, pains, allergies and aging—the average person will choose TCM first.

Still, it is a positive boost on the herbal medicine front to see a mainstream institution offering a Chinese herbal approach… even if it is after everything else has failed.

For more information, you can read Cleveland Clinic’s full press release here.

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