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The Adoption of Chinese Medical Practises in the West

John Merson (University of New South Wales, Australia)

This paper will explore the transfer and uptake of Chinese medical practises in the West. It will focus specifically on acupuncture which in many western countries has now become a legitimate therapy for the treatments of chronic pain and other conditions. The history of this transfer throws some interesting light on the process by which medical practises, derived from pre-scientific cultures, are legitimised for use in modern medicine. The paper will also explore the theories that have been developed to explain its effectiveness in both China and the West. The markedly different mind/body theories out of which acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medical practises emerged will also be discussed in the light of recent research into psycho-neuro-immunology, and the role of the placebo effect in medicine generally.

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