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Archive for the ‘NY College of Health Professions’ tag

To Qi or not to Qi? That is the Question

By David Kreiner MD

February 1st, 2014 at 5:27 pm


credit: StuartMiles/freedigital

It has been a month since I started my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture at the New York College of Health Professions in Syosset, NY. 

Why does this 58 year old Reproductive Endocrinologist want to go back to school for an additional career after practicing for 27 years you may ask?  Is it because I am jealous of my younger daughter starting the University of Michigan this past fall and I want to enjoy the Greek life?  Eh…I cannot deny the coincidence is suspicious.

However, my interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back to my own college days. While I bought a copy of the “Barefoot Doctor’s Manual”, the thick red book sat on a shelf for years.  I never got past a few lines about “dampness in the lower burner” and treating “excess phlegm”.  After all, my goal was to become a physician and I liked wearing my clogs back then anyway.

TCM appears quite strange to a Western-trained physician.  The language is unique to TCM and bears little resemblance to the medical physiology that we are familiar with.  As I become more knowledgeable about the fundamentals of TCM, I am fascinated by the elaborate construct of ideas on which TCM is based. 

Unlike modern Western Medicine which is based on scientific study and experimentation, the wisdom of TCM was built upon hundreds of generations of experience by the wise healers of China.  Observations of thousands of cases led to the development of theories regarding disease, illness and healing.  To my physician friends who question the concept of treating pain and illness by impacting channels of Qi, a form of life energy, I ask them: Who are we to question the collective wisdom and experience of hundreds of generations of the wisest healers of China when Modern Medicine has been helping more people than it has been hurting only for the past 80 years or so?  I personally have seen many examples of accepted “Medical Truths” rejected and disproved since graduating medical school in 1981.

My goal is to help my patients any way I can.  Yes, I am a Western-trained physician but more than that I am my patients’ healer who is helping them in their journeys to build their families.  We have great tools in Western Medicine including gonadotropin medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in particular In Vitro Fertilization.  But sometimes they may not be enough. 

I am reminded of the book and movie “Life of Pi”.  The protagonist, Piscine or Pi,tells his story about how he survived 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  The official representatives investigating the incident reject his story as unbelievable and insist on hearing the “truth”.  Pi then offers them a second story in which he is adrift on a lifeboat not with zoo animals, but with the ship’s cook, a Taiwanese sailor with a broken leg, and his own mother. The cook amputates the sailor’s leg for use as fishing bait, then kills the sailor and Pi’s mother for food. Pi then kills the cook and dines on him. 

Pi points out that neither story can be proven and neither explains the cause of the shipwreck and in the end of each story the outcome is the same… that he still lost his family.  We are left without an answer as to which story is real. Why does it matter which story was true?  We are asked which story we preferred.

Similarly, with TCM, if we can achieve the desired outcome…in my specialty, the much sought after pregnancy and healthy baby, why does it matter if we do not fully understand the science or principles behind the therapy? The story we choose for that much desired baby…for our “journey to the crib”… can include TCM if it could help us to attain our goal. 


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Do you think the blending of TCM and Western medicine principles could benefit infertility patients? Have you ever used or considered using TCM in your own fertility journey?

Photo credit: Stuart Miles


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