Altern Ther Health Med. 1995 Sep; 1(4): 41-7.
Can Western science provide a foundation for acupuncture?
Center for Frontier Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., USA.
Acupuncture and other complementary medical modalities that involve holistic principles challenge the dominant biomedical paradigm of mechanical reductionism and therefore are considered unconventional or alternative. This keynote presentation will review three different hypotheses of acupuncture, two of which lie within the dominant scientific paradigm, and a third that is built upon frontier ideas at the edge of the new science of bioelectromagnetics. The Zhang-Popp hypothesis, based on endogenous electromagnetic fields of the body, is capable of accommodating many puzzling features of acupuncture. In order to embody the latter, it appears that a new paradigm for the life sciences is needed to address the wholeness and integrity of the organism. Nonetheless, I believe that there are serious limitations in attempting to embrace the indigenous knowledge system of the East, one of the oldest systems of empirical knowledge, by a 300-year-old science of the West, because of their vast differences in biophilosophies and cultural orientations. All knowledge systems, East or West, are context-dependent; none can represent true objectivity. Despite this pluralistic view, working toward a unity of Eastern and Western thought may lead to a more universal understanding of acupuncture in the future.