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August 1, 2017 > Five Branches University integrates medicines of East and West

Five Branches University integrates medicines of East and West

By Victor Carvellas

Over the last several decades, Americans have steadily continued to acknowledge the value and efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and more medical students each year are seeking avenues to explore and gain proficiency in this rich tradition. Over time, replicable studies demonstrating TCMÕs efficacy and sound scientific principles have bolstered the medical communityÕs interest in integrated medicine, the uniting of multiple health care paths, including those of East and West.

In response to the growing acceptance of TCM, Five Branches University was instituted in 1984 in Santa Cruz, and was one of the first TCM schools in the US. In 2003 Five Branches University (FBU) opened a school and clinic in San Jose. This month, in another step forward, FBU will inaugurate its newest facility on August 12.

The name of FBU reflects the five disciplines taught there: Acupuncture, which uses fine needles to balance the yin and yang energies of the body; herbology, the use of plants and minerals to address variety of symptoms; Tuina massage, a form of physical therapy that targets tendons, muscles, and organs using energy channels and pressure points; energetics, including medical qigong, tai chi, and meditation); and Chinese dietary medicine, a millennia-old understanding of the relation between food and health. FBU offers two main degree programs: Dual First Professional Doctorate and Masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Post-Graduate Doctoral Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long and rich history, and is one of the oldest literate and continuously practiced forms of medicine in the world. It evolved from over 2000 years of clinical observations and reflects the Chinese cultural legacy and values of longevity and wellness.

The first written documentation on traditional Chinese medicine is the Hung-Di Nei-Jing (Yellow EmperorÕs Cannon of Internal Medicine). It is the oldest medical textbook in the world, originating between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, and lays a primary foundation for the theories of Chinese medicine summarizing and systematizing the treatments and theories of medicine, including physiology, pathology, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, acupuncture, meridian theory, and others.

In the early twentieth century, ChinaÕs government, intent on sweeping modernizations, sought to replace traditional Chinese medicine with Western practices. However, by the time of MaoÕs leadership, the dearth of medical services provided fertile ground for the reestablishment of traditional Chinese medicine. By the 1950s, acupuncture and herbal medicine had become standard, and several hospitals opened clinics to provide, teach and investigate the traditional methods. Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing became the centers of research.

The Culutral Revolution, however, once again denounced the past, and medicine was not spared. It wasnÕt until 1979 that the National Association for Chinese Medicine was established, and several of the traditional texts were recovered, edited and republished.

Today, Five Branches University is institutionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), which is the recognized accrediting agency for freestanding institutions and colleges of acupuncture or Oriental medicine that offer such programs.

The goal of five branches is to work with western medicine to provide healthcare for the whole person. One of TCMÕs strengthÕs is its emphasis on prevention. This stands in contrast to what many perceive to be the weakness of the Western system, that it is reactive and responds only when disease arises. Even as many health care institutions have begun to address prevention, the UCLA Center for East-West medicine cites statistics from the, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Ò70 percent of all deaths are due to chronic disease, and the cost of chronic care exceeds $1.5 trillion a year, or 75 percent of all medical expenses. Only a fraction of our budget is spent on prevention and health promotion, despite evidence that prevention can do much to reduce the burden of chronic disease.Ó TCM is poised to accommodate Western medicine in an integrated approach that appreciates the strengths and weakness of both modalities. ÒIn the future,Ó says Aaron Lee, L.Ac., fellow at FBU, and Peer Advisor, Òwe want an integrative approach coupled with cooperative attitude. There are things each medicine can and canÕt do.Ó

Recently, stories of prescription opioid addiction have revealed the downside of pharmaceutical pain management. Acupuncture, in contrast, has a well-known and established success rate for managing chronic pain. Recently the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)¨, which has long advocated non-pharmacological treatments, commended the Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, for its new pain management standards. Effective January 1, 2018, Joint Commission accredited hospitals will be required to provide nonpharmacological pain modalities, including acupuncture (by licensed practitioners).

On August 12, Five Branches invites the public to an exciting inaugural day where interested people can attend demonstrations and lectures to discover how TCM can provide a healthy lifestyle. Featured subjects include qigong, healthy cooking with Chinese herbs, and free consultations and treatments by FBU faculty, senior interns and alumni.

FBU Inaugural Day
Saturday, Aug 12
Inauguration Ceremony: 11:30 a.m. Ð 12:30 p.m.
TCM Festival: 10:00 a.m. Ð 4:00 p.m.
Five Branches University
1885 Lundy Ave., San Jose
(408) 260-0208

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