Communication & Medicine, Vol 12, No 1 (2015)

‘Using Chinese medicine in a Western way’: Negotiating integrative Chinese medicine treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

Evelyn Y. Ho, Chelsea Lalancette, Genevieve Leung
Issued Date: 7 Jun 2016


Type 2 diabetes affects Chinese Americans at an alarming rate and many Chinese Americans use Chinese medicine principles to deal with their diabetes. In this article, we examine interviews with Chinese medicine practitioners about the best ways to treat diabetes and xiaoke (Chinese medicine’s closest equivalent to diabetes). These interviews were conducted to examine how practitioners would promote a particular form of integrative medicine – in this case, using Chinese medicinal principles to suggest food treatments for diabetes or xiaoke. Our research expands understandings of integrative medicine and Chinese medicine recognizing that in practice, the static categories of Chinese and Western diagnosis and treatment are not very useful for understanding how integration occurs. Instead, Chinese medicine practitioners negotiate between the poles of individual and standardized on one dimension and physical and energetic on another dimension as a way of practicing Chinese medicine and enregistering their professional identities here in the U.S. Examining these interviews from a language and social interaction perspective, we present integration as a performance and enactment of social personae rather than a product. We highlight the need to attend to differences in what oftentimes is treated as a monolithic community of Chinese medicine in the U.S.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v12i1.25993


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