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Heat and Eastern Medicine by Won Kim

Have you ever suffered from an itchy skin condition? Even a single day of itching is unbearable, yet can you imagine how torturous it would be to have itchy skin for the rest of your life? Do you know any friend or a family member who suffers daily discomfort due to abdominal bloating and excessive gas or suffer from nervous anxiety and sudden panic disorder or severe insomnia disrupting their daily lives? What about suffering from specific symptoms without a medical diagnosis or available treatment?

I am a doctor of Eastern medicine who sees one or two of these patients every day. Regrettably, people with the symptoms mentioned above worsen their conditions through a lack of measure or neglect when there is a clear cause and treatment. Still, many patients receive no beneficial effect or worsen their conditions by treating themselves with misinformation they learned on the internet and social media.

Fortunately, there is a greater acceptance of acupuncture and herbal medicine by the general population than over thirty years ago when I first started practice. Unfortunately, however, the numbers that are getting proper treatments for the symptoms mentioned earlier are still very low, comparable to the tip of an iceberg.

According to traditional Eastern medicine, the cause of the symptoms mentioned above that are difficult to diagnose and treat according to western medicine is an internal excess “HEAT.” For some of you, it may be hard to comprehend. I am still figuring out the best way to relate what “HEAT” is to my English-speaking patients. When I get asked what “HEAT” is, the best explanation would be “STRESS.” Stress is our physical, mental, and emotional response to external negative influences. These responses are self-protective mechanisms against external forces. An unintentional accumulation of negative energies during such a process of self-protection can be called “Heat” in Eastern medicine.

Aside from stress, long-term ingestion of excess heat-producing foods can contribute to overall heat in our bodies. In Eastern medicine, foods have hot and cold properties. Those who believe only in scientific research may have difficulty understanding Eastern concepts. But you must realize that they result from empirical stats of thousands of years of data collected by Eastern medicine practitioners. Wouldn’t it be great if you can benefit from a simple Eastern medical treatment for conditions that are difficult to treat according to western medicine and without experiencing severe unwanted side effects from allopathic drugs?

The role of a doctor is to alleviate the pain and suffering of the patients. Our job is not to fight and bicker about which medicine is better—allopathic or Eastern. However, I would like to reiterate that countless patients have benefitted from Eastern treatment protocols for illnesses that were unsuccessfully treated by allopathic medicine.

Even though I have over forty years of clinical experience, I am still very wary about writing on the topic of Eastern medicine because many only believe in “western” and “scientific” methods. In addition, many still stigmatize acupuncture as an unscientific method of treatment. It saddens me to see the patients who still cannot free themselves from all the sufferings they are experiencing, even with a fancy, unpronounceable western diagnosis. Therefore, I share my thoughts to break the narrow viewpoints of many and hope that they open their minds to Eastern medicine.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize that we do not treat the name of the disease, we treat the symptoms of the disease.

Dr. Kim comes from a family that has practiced acupuncture for three generations. Having worked both with them as well as privately, Dr. Kim has over 30 years of clinical experience. He studied acupuncture in Korea and established a clinic in the United States in 1982. In 1988, he collaborated with a doctor specializing in AIDS research, and studied T4 cells found in HIV positive patients. Dr. Kim has been a part of the Association of Korean Asian Medicine & Acupuncture of California (AKAMAC) for numerous years, and is also an active member of Dong Euh Nal Dal Acupuncturists, a group that provides free treatments for low income patients. Dr. Kim also participates as a member of the Olympic Lions Club. He has been a featured guest on a Korean radio program for over a decade as an expert concerning acupuncture and herbal medicine as they relate to everyday life. For more information please visit:


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