anyone considered N.D. or chinese medicine?

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    Hello all,

    I know this is momMD 🙂 , but I am wondering if anyone has ever considered Naturopathic medicine or Chinese medicine? …Thoughts?






    CaLiGirL :)CaLiGirL:)

    Chinese Medicine/Acupunture and things of that sort is quite popular in my area. My parents are also quite fond of it and swear that it works. I don’t know though…it seemes like a big part if it is based off of supersticious beliefs that originated in the chinese cultures like thousands of years ago. Granted, these chinese people kept people alive and healthy even thousands of years ago, and they must have had a great amount of wisdom, but it’s not something that I would personally want to go into.



    Hi Angel,
    Part of the reason I chose Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as my specialty is because PM&R docs tend to be more holistic, open-minded, appreciative of physical modalities (vs. conventional meds) as treatment, and overall aware of the many factors (social, vocational, spiritual, psychological) that affect “healing.” In answer to your question, Yes. I do have thoughts about ‘complementary’ medicine and am interested in investigating it more; in residency, however, it’s hard to find the time.

    We do have an attending in our department who successfully practices acupuncture. I always thought that I’d want to pursue this avenue myself, yet with my new daughter (almost 1 year already!), and hopefully more children in the future, I now question how enthusiastic I’ll be about embarking on these new pathways after residency.

    I look forward to delving more into these topics eventually… I’m trying to finish the “MD” part so I can carry more credibility in the future, should I decide to become involved in (=research? practice? advocate?) more “non-traditional” areas of healing.


    Originally posted by katherine:
    I look forward to delving more into these topics eventually… I’m trying to finish the “MD” part so I can carry more credibility in the future, should I decide to become involved in (=research? practice? advocate?) more “non-traditional” areas of healing.[/b]

    This is certainly needed. There needs to be credible evidence supporting complementary/alternative medicine practices. I’m certain that there are parts of CAM that will prove to be quite useful, and other parts shown to be useless. Until that is scientifically sorted out I’ll stick to standard western medicine, but I’ll be open to adding to my practice any parts clinically proven.


    Hi everyone,

    I personally have found the healing philosophy of nauturopathic medicine appealing. I like the approach that is centered on the body’s ability to heal itself, which brings increased responsibility to the patient. It seems to be more “patient based”, in the sense that one is seen as the stewart of her/his own body, and the physician an aide in that healing process.

    I have found that, in general, friends and family of mine who see Naturopathic physicians for primary care tend to be more responsible and informed than those that see an MD.

    Personally, I really enjoy the length of visit as spent with an ND. My ND takes way more time with me than my MD, is much more aware of the stresses and activities of my life in general. My MD (she’s great) is always a little more hurried.

    Chinese medicine is newer in the US, but holds to similar philosophy. The framework for Chinese medicine is not superstition (!); easily discovered if you take time to read up on it.

    I am doing research about Chinese medicine right now, and will post anything significant I find here, (if anyone is interested).

    Katherine, you sound very busy! Perhaps the time to pursue your interests will find you eventually! I am currently thinking of taking up Chinese, 😮 I have heard that knowledge of the language greatly enhances your ability to understand the healing philosophy (not to mention the terminology!) I am happy that “alternative” forms of healing are becoming more noticed. (have you noticed how many people now practice Yoga?) I was happy to read your post.



    Likewise happy to read your post, Angel.
    P.S. I almost majored in East Asian Studies in college, which would have required taking Chinese, but I wimped out. Go for it!

    CaLiGirL :)CaLiGirL:)


    It would be interesting if you posted information here on Chinese medicine. My mother has tried to convince me to go in that direction….although it’s not I want, it wouldn’t hurt to gain a little knowledge in that field. My parents are so into it, it would be nice to know a little backround on it. My father doesn’t really even see MD’s anymore.

    There was this one procedure done on him a couple of months back. The herbal doctor came over to our house (which was nice!) and pricked him in several different areas on his leg. Then they put suction cup types of things over the pricks and started to “draw” out blood. My father told me it was to see how unhealthy that area of his body was….I wonder what that is. If the blood is dark and thick, they conclude that that area of the body is unhealthy. If the blood is lighter and thinner, then that part of the body is healthy. Do you know anything about that?

    Also, right after I gave birth to my child, my mother had me drink a cup of this wierd herbal tea (really thick and gross and almost black in color) for ten days.

    I know we’re not suppose to seek any “medical” advice…that’s not what I’m doing. I would just like to know what thats all about. It was strange, but interesting. If you had the info, I would love to hear it!



    Hello everyone,


    I am not familiar with the particular blood-drawing technique you mentioned. I will PM you (if you don’t mind) if and when I come across something that explains it. I can recommend a good book that demystifies chinese medicine quite well. It is called:

    “The Web That Has No Weaver” by Ted J. Kaptchuk O.M.D.

    There is a very good forward in this book by a Harvard research fellow (M.D. and Ph.D.), also, Mr. Kaptchuk himself is on staff at Harvard Medical School, assistant prof. (or was at the time of recent publication in 2000)

    Funny how you mentioned your mother! I had a nice laugh when I read that. I could see you gulping down that stuff, and my heart went out to you! My mother is very similar! (oh the potions that I have choked down in my years!) Interestingly, she sterotypes “Chinese medicine” as being mystical and will have nothing to do with it. She is into lots of Naturopathic remedies though, I don’t understand. I think it is because she is deeply religeous and associates Chinese medicine with Taoism, thinking that being treated by it would be some form of apostacy from the faith. :rolleyes: (go figure!)

    Well, I can see how your mother would be pressuring you into a certain field of practice. Stick to your guns! Don’t let her pressure affect your desicion making process, you are the one who has to live with the choice in the end. Luckily, my parents are not pressuring me one way or the other. They just hope that whatever I pursue, it will be with a holistic mindset, which it will. Pursuing Chinese medicine or an N.D. is a completely different road from becoming an M.D.! Good luck!


    Almost did East Asian studies??? Might I ask, was Chinese the deciding factor? Glad to meet another fan of culture. I have been dealing with a maddening passion for cultural studies for awhile now,(my whole life!) my interest in medicine naturally brought me to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, for me, my desire to do medicine arose out of a love of cultural studies. I am torn between the two. Medicine is more practical, but cultural studies provides me with a soul-nourishing zest for life. So, I am thinking of doing something like Chinese medicine because it integrates the two. Or, perhaps I will stick to my area studies and eventually teach. I actually have been doing Middle Eastern Studies and taking Arabic, which I love. My husband is not as excited about the region as I am though, so I fear I need to change my regional focus to someplace he would enjoy going with me to for a year of language study. I am a bit sad about that right now, learning how to be married and coordinate desires. I am in the desicion making process. This website has provided me with so much information about life in Western medicine, I am much more informed.
    Was there a point that you had to make a desicion to do what you have chosen? How did you choose, if I might ask?

    Thanks for everyone’s comments,



    I wish I could tell everyone that it is easy to decide on Naturopathic or Western medicine. I also wish I could tell you that this decision is based on the medicine alone but it isn’t. When you describe the amount of time that is spent with a patient it is usually financially oriented. Today, naturopaths get paid in cash and can charge whatever they can get paid to spend as much time as they can for the budgetary restrictions their practices can handle. Most physicians cannot charge cash prices to see their patients and therefore depend on insurance regulated prices which is not nearly enough to keep their practices open to see fewer patients and spend more time with them. Many practices have gone bankrupt because of these reasons. I have known some very good physicians who also practice naturopathic and alternative medicine techniques and do very good work. It is very important to understand the bigger picture and also understand how very well physicians are trained to keep you safe and happy and that you can find a well trained physician who also can expand your treatment beyond westgern medicine.


    This is a very interesting topic! I live near the Bastyr Institute, which is touted to be one of the best Naturopathic schools in the country, and so looked into their curriculum and program. I too, have a mother who is always trying to get me to drink “potions”, take some new supplement, etc, and she would love to see me go the ND route. So for her sake (and to satisfy my interest) I am taking a course in Alternative Medicines at UWSOM this fall, it will be interesting to see their take on it.

    I have some questions if anyone has answers…

    Do ND’s make any money? Do they have trouble finding patients? What kind of practice arrangements are common?

    I am curious about the business end of things.




    Hi there!

    I have done a little reading about N.D.’s and I know that they can make good money once they have an established practice, but the figures are generally lower. (90k average) I have heard of N.D.’s making into the triple digits, but I don’t *think* it is as common. (maybe someone else knows better) I see N.D.’s in my area working in clinics with as many as 10-12 other Naturopaths. I also see partnerships of two or three working together, and, most commonly, independent practices. There is at least one clinic that does exclusive care for women only, and there are about 7 Naturopathic physicians on staff. I think it is really neat that opportunity for N.D.’s seems to be expanding.

    I have been looking into Bastyr, and, geez….expensive place to go to school. (in comparison to State Medical School prices) About 25,000 a year for Naturopathic school? Ouch! Leave over 100,000 in debt? Thats like M.D. school, and I don’t *think* the job security is as high as having an M.D. (unless you live in a big city) I have looked at the programs online, and they seem to have a very well-rounded program there.

    just my $.02


    A very interesting discussion…I’m a 2nd year MS in an MD program, with a background in acupuncture and Qi Gong (the basis for Chinese medicine; also includes physical exercises similar to Tai Chi for self-healing). I have about 2 years of acupuncture training (though I did not seek the degree) and 5 years training with a Qi Gong Master from China. I strongly believe in the use of these practices as a complement to Western medicine. Neither Chinese medicine (or other traditional healing methods) nor Western medicine should stand alone in healing the patient – they are much more powerful when united. There are staunch advocates for natural healing as an absolute “alternative”, just as there are MD’s that think natural healing is hocus pocus and should be dismissed entirely. I’m presently contemplating how I will integrate the thousands-of-years-old wisdom of Chinese medicine and Qi Gong with my future practice. Some may even be shocked to hear that I am considering a surgical specialty, but in my experience in working with Qi Gong and Chinese medicine, I’ve seen what great things we can do for surgical patients pre-op and post-op, not to mention (gasp!) prevention and health maintenance altogether. I feel that I have the technical skills and manual dexterity to be a good surgeon, and I feel that my background and training in Chinese medicine will only make me a better one. There are so many ways that taking a more holistic view in medicine could benefit the patient, but it’s going to take years (if not generations) to make this widely accepted in the Western medical community. Old habits are hard to break. Fortunately, many of the MDs I’ve come across so far are at the very least curious about what Chinese medicine/Qi Gong could add to patient care. And, there is even an increasing amount of research being done in the area – i.e. fMRI-acupuncture studies. Check this one out: Cho et al found that acupuncture stimulation of the UB67 point (at the tip of the 5th toe) produced visual cortex stimulation compared to non-acupuncture points. This point has been documented in Chinese medicine texts dating literally thousands of years back as a point used to treat visual disturbances! Similar findings were recorded when the same procedure was done with a hearing-related point (with the auditory cortex of course). This is legitimate, published research performed by a physicist at UC Irvine SOM who is also a member of the National Academy of Science. It’s is my personal favorite bit of complementary medicine trivia, and I share it with everyone because its implications are far-reaching. While it doesn’t tell us what sticking a hair-thin needle in your pinkie toe does to your vision exactly, it does tell us that somehow there is a connection – imagine that – your toe and your eyes!! Sounds insane…but maybe the ancient Chinese knew something that we don’t. Needless to say, how can this NOT worth exploring? Another promising experience I’ve had: For my 1st year community health project, my school allowed me to teach a course in Qi Gong at a cancer support center. The center was so happy with the class that they hired me on to teach again this fall. I have also been asked by other medical students to teach an extracurricular course on Qi Gong at my school, but the upcoming Board exams could have something to say about that! Maybe next year… Anyway, I’ll always have a mouthful to say on these matters, but I’ll end this message here. Good luck to all of you who choose to look into this subject at a deeper level.

    P.S. to the busy resident – after you are finished, look into the acupunture program at UCLA Med for physicians – you can do it from afar, and it is very valuable training. There’s also one at Stanford Med.



    I wholeheartedly agree with your statements about Western medicine and Chinese medicine being integrated for the benefit of the patient.

    I found it interesting that you want to go into a surgical specialty. Chinese medicine and surgery are both fascinating to me as well. If I do go with western medicine, surgery is what I find the most appealing within it. Surgery seems to be at the very extreme end of western medical philosophy: find the problem and fix it directly. 🙂

    Thanks for the interesting comments.


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