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Traditional medicine and western medicine

Singapore is a dwelling for many individuals coming from different cultures. People with different social backgrounds possess a perspective on medical treatments and overall medicine inherent to their original culture. While some will prefer traditional medicinal methods, others will choose modern medicine and its quick-result treatments.

When evoking traditional patterns of health treatments, some practices instantly come to mind, such as acupuncture, herbal concoctions, and Tui Na massages, which are gaining more popularity since the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioners Act has been active since 2000.

People seeking a direct approach to acute care will follow modern medicine first and consider TCM as an alternative. The former is popular as mainstream treatment methods are taught in medical institutions. It involves basic medical science and is also known as conventional medicine. The latter follows a holistic approach and focuses on strengthening the body. Pain is then managed by strengthening the body and following a series of treatments.

As Singapore comprises people from different backgrounds, the city’s medicine combines Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine and values them equally.

One can go for any of the two treatment processes they find suitable; the main aim is to recover from the medical situation. Apart from undergoing such medical procedures, a patient wants to avoid side effects, discomfort, and pain. All they need is an experienced specialist who offers treatment at a reasonable price while giving them the best results.

As traditional methods are complementary to modern medicine, it remains a non-mainstream practice, making them unavailable in many hospitals.

Here’s a chart comparing traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine treatment followed for an ankle injury:

Western Medicine

  1. Immobilizing the affected area.
  2. Painkillers are given to reduce pain
  3. Physiotherapist recommendation for muscle strengthening and working on ligament mobility.
  4. Follow up with the physiotherapist regarding the treatment.
  5. The course of treatment continues for weeks/months as required.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. The injury and its opposite end are treated with acupuncture.
  2. Massage is followed for better blood circulation and muscle relaxation, followed by herbal compressors to relieve pain.
  3. Herbal medication is prescribed for a few weeks.
  4. Follow up with the medicinal assessment.
  5. The course of treatment follows for weeks/months as required.

With the comparison above, we can conclude that both methods follow their approach and entirely rely on a patient’s choice of what they prefer.

Singapore possesses various locally trained TCM practitioners, who are only allowed to practice medical treatment if certified. People began to observe numerous benefits of this approach, and as recently reported in 2020, TCM practitioners grew exponentially, with which 3,271 are registered.

TCM’s efficacy and assistive approach during covid-19 

Traditional Chinese Medicine proved its efficiency by contributing its assistance to Western medicine during the height of the pandemic. A WHO expert evaluated Traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of Covid-19. It was pointed out that it has its advantages of preventing the early stage of the illness, aiming to boost the immune system before developing the infection. And assisting in recovery from sepsis and emotional disturbance when severity does occur.

A summary below suggests that TCM played its role in all stages of viral infection:

  • Prevention – During the lockdown, many people followed a TCM diet with items such as Chinese yam, Chinese dates, Goji berries, and other consumable plants and herbs with medicinal value. They were encouraged to do so because such foods can help boost the immune system and promote health and wellness.
  • Mild and moderate disease – TCM was found to reduce the time of symptoms and help patients to be cleared with the virus. It also reduced the number of patients progressing to severe diseases.
  • Severe and critical disease – The combined approach of TCM and western medicine shortened the time of staying in intensive care and reduced the use of mechanical ventilation. TCM was said to reduce mortality in critically ill patients.
  • Recovery – TCM plays a vital role at this stage. It was shown to improve clinical symptoms and quality of life.

Source: World Health Organization

A study conducted among 8,939 patients in 15 hospitals with covid-19 resulted in a lower mortality rate of 1.2% among patients who have received TCM and a 4.8% mortality rate for those who have not received TCM treatment.

The most popular forms of TCM are as follows:


With acupuncture treatment, specific areas of the skin (acupoints) are penetrated with the help of thin metallic needles, which are used manually or by electrical stimulation. It has proven precise results in treating chronic pain, headaches, chemotherapy-associated nausea, postoperative dental pain, lower back pain, and asthma.

Herbal Medicine

Medicines are made by mixing different combinations of plant parts such as flowers, leaves, or roots. Each piece of the plant has a unique and potent medicinal quality, which qualifies them to be used for the treatment of various digestive issues, and skin problems such as psoriasis or eczema, arthritis, high blood pressure, migraines, etc.


This treatment uses a burning moxa cone or sticks made of ground mugwort leaves placed on or near your body’s affected area and acupuncture points. The heat stimulates these points and improves your body's flow of Qi (energy). According to traditional Chinese medicine practices, this increased Qi circulation can help with various health issues, from chronic pain to digestive problems.

Tui Na

Tui Na is a therapeutic form of massage. Practitioners use their fingers, hand, elbow, knee, or feet to apply pressure to a specific body location. By applying pressure to meridians, acupoints, and groups of muscles and nerves, Tui Na removes blockages and deeply works with the body's positive energy.

Cupping Treatmentclose-up-hand-holding-cup

It involves placing cups at specific points on a person's skin. A practitioner creates suction in the cups, which pulls against a person's skin. People frequently cite cupping therapy as a form of pain relief.

Gua Sha

It’s a treatment that involves scraping a flat jade or rose quartz stone over the skin with upward strokes to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage.

The attitude to be adopted by modern-day doctors

There is no point denying that many people consider using traditional treatment methods along with western ones. The reason is that a patient is expecting fast recovery and is promised few to no side effects with the use of TCM. However, the interaction of drugs with herbal supplements may have side effects. Only if doctors show their openness to discuss the ideas can a patient fully admit that they are TCM aficionados. This will help assess medical situations better and observe whether the combination of both is more effective.

While most people visit TCM practitioners, they must not hide from their doctors about the complementary therapies they are using. It will help them undergo a carefully analyzed, effective, and safe treatment for the patient. Moreover, as TCM is widely used by people in this region, finding reliable health insurance in Singapore for TCM is crucial.

As TCM is mainly prepared by patients or families at home, the quantitative and qualitative factors in such medicine are lacking. As a patient visits the doctor and elaborates how they have been consuming herbal medication, the doctor will observe the mechanism followed and offer a comprehensive solution.

This is only possible when doctors are interested in gaining knowledge about commonly used TCM. This will not only ensure effective doctor-patient communication but can also benefit the patient with prompt health results. The patient can also look for health insurance in Singapore through medical treatment.

BLACAZ is highly recommended for a tailored health policy program that will cover all the aspects of medical treatment, including the coverage for TCM to suit your requirements. Contact us today.

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