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[Where will Chinese medicine disease names go?].

[Article in Chinese]

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  • 1Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Brain Hospital Affiliated to Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China.


The statistical survey of "Clinical Articles", one column of Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (24 volumes in total) showed that, of the 151 academic exploration on diseases, Western disease (WM) names were used in 145 articles, constituting 96.03% of the entire column. Obviously, Chinese medicine (CM) disease names were not basically used by CM physicians. Taking Chinese Internal Medicine (2nd edition), a national textbook for students in CM universities, as an example, we could find that the use of disease names was in a chaos logically, disease, syndrome, and symptom were not used clearly. In the general knowledge part, when mentioning a disease, the book sometimes used "disease", sometimes "disease-syndrome". In the classified parts, some diseases were simply named as "A or B syndrome", and when talking about a specific disease, it referred to the symptom-based disease as a kind of "disease-syndrome". Throughout the whole book, the disease names named after symptoms or heavily colored by symptoms amounted to 31, accounting for 59.6% of the listed 52 common diseases. In clinical practices, using CM disease names ran the risk of making wrong diagnosis or failing to diagnose patients in time, and therefore, leading to improper treatment or loss of treatment time. For critical diseases, these names can't reveal the serious situations and help to get rid of possible dangers. For chronic diseases, using these names can't lead to early recognition and prevention of diseases. Considering that CM disease names can't go with clinical practices, and lag behind the development of integrative medicine, the author suggested that we should borrow as many WM disease names as possible in CM, because when compared with CM, WM has a much clearer and more objective knowledge of the location, cause, mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. The classification and naming of diseases in WM is the result of negotiation of WHO and its member countries (including China), and therefore, more generally accepted. How to do that? We should start from the present clinical practice, refer to the tradition, face the future, and work hard. Borrowing WM disease names is of great significance. It will help to bring the theory of Zang-Fu organs back to its origin, clinically help to deepen the combination of disease and syndrome, disease and formula, promote the objectification and micronization of syndrome differentiation in CM, and possibly bring about new theories of CM which will in return promote clinical development. CM will be able to occupy an important position in the field of world medicine and make its own contributions to the health of the global population.

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