Zhong-hua declaration on natural medicine

Preamble

We strongly believe in the following self-evident truths:

Every citizen of the global village has an inherent right and sacred duty to pursue health and access the essential means to maintain it. Citizens, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, should have complete freedom to respect, preserve, and promote their distinctive medical and humanistic traditions. Medical care and health should be tangible experiences in which all citizens actively engage. The guiding principle of “reverence for life” should serve as the cornerstone that all modern human societies follow.

Part I: Adapting Medicine to the Times

Transitioning from Disease Control to Health Promotion:

The prevailing medical system, which primarily focuses on controlling diseases, tends to overlook spiritual well-being and environmental factors. Consequently, it perpetuates the multiplication of diseases based solely on symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine has, for thousands of years, astutely categorized a myriad of diseases within the profound yet straightforward “yin and yang” dynamic system. It defines life as an orderly and harmonious expression of “essence” (material flow), “qi” (energy flow), and “spirit” (information flow) within a specific time and space. Diseases result from imbalances of yin and yang, influenced by various factors that disturb the dynamic equilibrium of life. Treatment methods are rooted in the simple yet effective approach of “supporting the positive and eliminating the evil.”

The “Constitution of the World Health Organization,” passed on July 22, 1946, offers a clear definition of health, stating that it encompasses not only the absence of disease in the body but also includes mental health, good social adaptation, and moral health. To align with this definition, it is imperative to infuse natural philosophy and humanistic qualities into existing medical systems in both Eastern and Western traditions, breaking free from mechanical, anti-medical thinking and norms. It is vital to comprehend that health and disease are two states of physiology and psychology, coexisting with “yin and yang,” representing the dynamic expression of the “positive” and “evil” in Chinese medicine, where “positive” signifies health, and “evil” represents sickness. Only by grasping this truth can we discern the underlying laws and, consequently, aid all of humanity in averting diseases while prioritizing overall health.

Elevating Physiological and Biochemical Medical Science to Life Medical Science:

Physiological and biochemical medical science addresses “symptoms” at the material level, while life science encompasses information, energy, and matter. The former deals with “symptoms,” while the latter delves into the “root causes.” Treating the root cause represents a distinctive form of regulating the material expression to maintain, adjust, enhance, and restore the dynamic balance of information flow, energy flow, and material flow within the body.

Distinguishing Between Western Medicine (Pharmaceuticals) and Nutrition (Food):

During the Tang Dynasty, physician Sun Simiao (581-682) emphasized the significance of doctors understanding the source of the disease and treating it with food; if food proves ineffective, then medicine is prescribed. The Western medical luminary, Hippocrates (460-377 BC), famously stated, “food is medicine, and medicine is food.” For thousands of years, both Eastern and Western traditions have distilled the essence of Chinese medicine, while Western medicine is often equated with “drug poisoning.”

Transitioning from Antagonistic Medicine to Natural Medicine:

Antagonistic medicine (Allopathy) primarily concentrates on symptom control, often leading patients to take medications for extended periods, incurring substantial costs, and suffering from numerous side effects. The principles of natural medicine, including theories, methods, prescriptions, and foods, adhere to the “adaptogen” principle: non-toxic, non-specific, and with effects not limited to specific organs and tissues. This approach aims to restore overall dynamic harmony to promote well-being. Traditional Chinese medicine categorizes drugs into upper, middle, and lower grades based on their toxicity and the severity of the disease, with most upper-grade drugs meeting the “adaptogen” requirements. These principles guide us in returning medicine to the people.

Guiding Physicians as Mentors and Empowering Patients as Self-Helpers:

Throughout history, both Eastern and Western natural medicine have regarded physicians as guides for life restoration and daily practice, while viewing patients as teachers and friends. With the exception of emergency situations, the treatment of any ailment entails a process of life restoration and physical and mental cultivation under the guidance of a highly conscientious and proficient doctor, with active and cooperative patient participation.

Change medical education to daily medical practice:

Traditional Chinese culture believes in “respecting the Dao and valuing virtue” and “harmony between heaven and humans.” The I Ching, the first of the Ten Classics, is the philosophical source of Chinese natural medicine. The traditional expectation of the scholar class, “not to be a good minister, but to be a good doctor,” and the requirement for ordinary people, “not to understand medicine is not enough to speak of filial piety,” demonstrate the high degree of integration of medical education and daily life practice.

In the modern society where the information society is highly developed, and in the world where many countries and regions are rapidly entering an aging society, in addition to the prevention and control of emergencies and major epidemic diseases, every family needs to shoulder the responsibility of “universal medicine.” Understand that your own kitchen is your own “primary pharmacy,” your own bathroom is your own “primary medical examination room,” and your own bedroom is your own “health room.” This is the right way to deal with the aging, degenerative diseases, and the younger age of chronic diseases in many regions, and the rising medical expenses.

Upgrade medical professionals to a system engineering of good moral character:

Good conscience is the body, and technology is the use. Technology will not always stay in the development stage of “knowing its skills by dividing into disciplines.” Modern quantum physics transcends the dichotomy of subject and object, unifying the observer and the observed in the same field. Life science is greater than medical science. Everyone is born with an inexhaustible source of life energy, which is called “benevolence” in Confucianism, “Tao” in Taoism, “true nature” in Buddhism, “positive qi” in Chinese medicine, “vital energy” in Western saints, and “natural healing ability” in natural medicine. It gives us the meaning of life, and it is the foundation for us to save this world and every living being in the world.

Chinese natural medicine lays the foundation for the development of world natural medicine:

Chinese natural medicine follows nature, responds to heaven and earth, follows the middle way, suits human nature, conforms to the law, understands the principles of the I Ching, and is sensitive to all things. All countries and civilizations that are based on “the middle way” and “benevolence” are all part of the “Chinese” culture and civilization. The long history of mankind has nurtured many natural medicine systems (such as Indian Ayurveda, European naturopathy and anthroposophical medicine, American herbal medicine, etc.), all of which believe in the principle of “harmony between heaven and man” to maintain the dynamic balance and harmony of heaven, earth, and man. Their theories, methods, prescriptions, medicines, and food are highly compatible with Chinese natural medicine, and they complement each other. Therefore, they belong to the natural medicine system of all mankind.

Conclusion

Every citizen of the world village has the responsibility and obligation to maintain their own physical and mental health. Based on benevolence, we will jointly build a sustainable and harmonious human society. Therefore, we call on: to advocate for medical reform, return to the way of nature, revive Chinese culture, and promote world harmony.

Notes:

[1] See Section 8.1 of the Press Release

[2] “Supporting the positive and eliminating the evil”

Supporting the positive means helping the body’s “positive qi” (natural healing ability)

Eliminating the evil means removing any pathogenic factors from the body, both internal and external.

[3] The concept of adaptogens was proposed by Dr. Israel Brekhman, a researcher at the USSR Academy of Sciences, in the 1970s. It has been recognized by the World Medical Association.

The conditions for an adaptogen are:

Non-toxic and non-mutagenic

Broad-spectrum, with effects that are not limited to specific organs or tissues

Have the ability to normalize the body’s functions

[4] “Everyone is a doctor” does not mean that everyone should be a doctor. It means that everyone should learn how to use their innate “positive qi” (natural healing ability) to stay healthy and avoid illness.

[5] Why “Chinese”?

“The middle way” is the great way of heaven and earth (Confucius). “Hua” means the flourishing of all things.

“Chinese” means the natural laws and principles that govern the universe.

“Chinese” means adapting to change without being changed by it.

Chinese culture is the change that does not deviate from its essential principles. The middle way is about rationality, hua is about elegant change, wen is about patterns and designs, and hua is about natural development.

Note:

This declaration was jointly signed and issued by over 300 scholars, experts, and government leaders at the 2012 World Chinese Natural Medicine Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Based on this declaration, in February 2016, Dr. Steve Schettler, a professor of natural medicine at Portland State University, and Dr. Ho Eng-Kwang, the president of the American Academy of Naturopathic Medicine and the publisher of the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, drafted a revised version. Confucian scholar Yu Chang-fa, Professor Fu Hai-na of the American Academy of Naturopathic Medicine, Dr. Zhang Qi, holistic health expert Dr. Li Xin, and Huang Ming-yu, the president of Li Pin Books, also participated in the revision.

On July 27, 2018, Professor Chen Chieh-fu, former director of the Chinese Medicine Institute of China in Taiwan and the National Yang-Ming Medical University, made the eighth revision.

On March 15, 2019, the secretariat of the American Academy of Naturopathic Medicine made the ninth revision.

On August 30, 2023, Professor Chen Chieh-fu and Dr. Ho Eng-Kwang carefully made the tenth revision. They hope that with the joint efforts of all practitioners, this declaration can provide a reference for the medical reform and the development of natural medicine that are urgently needed in the world today. If this is achieved, it will be a blessing for the world and for society.

On August 25, 2016, at the United Nations NGO (United Nations NGO) summit in the United Nations General Assembly Hall 1 in New York City, Dr. Liu Dong, a renowned cardiac surgeon from the Chinese delegation, solemnly read this “Chinese Natural Medicine Declaration” on behalf of the editorial board of the Journal of World Natural Medicine. This was a historic moment for the cause of human health.

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