Every day, millions of people are taking medications that will not help them. That is not just a waste of drugs; it has caused a lot of complicated problems beyond the health of the individual patient.
Every human is unique. We are different in sex, ages, races and colors, nationalities, and more. We live in different environment, with different lifestyles. We have different habits in diet. We often differ in how we develop diseases and respond to treatments.
Our health is determined or influenced by our inherent differences combined with our life choices and changes of living environment.
Scientific research proves that every person has a unique variation of the human genes, because we have different family histories. Although most of the variation between individuals may have no effect on health, an individual’s health stems from genetic variation with behaviors and influences from the environment.
Personalized medicine aims to tailor treatments to achieve the best outcome for individual patients, rather than treating patients with a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
During a medical procedure, the decisions we make, the practices we apply, the interventions we carry out, and the formulas we prescribe, all shall be tailored to the individual patient based on their predicted response or risk of disease. Even our clinical trials shall focus on individual, not average, responses to therapy.
Personalized medicine is precision medicine.
Precision Medicine allows us to better understand the individual characteristics of each patient. It sets a higher standard for qualified practitioners. As we analyze the cause of an individual patient’s disease at a deeper level, the patient’s response is then tracked as closely as possible, and then we can utilize unique and targeted treatments to address that individual patient’s disease process.
Having the ability to look at a patient on an individual basis will allow for a more accurate diagnosis and specific treatment plan.
Precision medicine may provide better diagnoses with earlier intervention, and more efficient drug development and therapies. Former US President Obama called precision medicine “one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs that we have ever seen,” saying that it promised to deliver “the right treatments at the right time, every time, to the right person.”
The concept of personalized medicine is not new. For thousands of years, TCM has been a great example of personalized medicine. TCM formulas composed of different herbs are targeted treatments for individual patients.
Especially in the cure of cancer or tumor, TCM has developed very efficient methods for treatment, and in prevention.
Although in practice, the treatments involve a lot of “trial and error” strategy that seems not that “scientific”, they are based on firm traditional therapeutic theories. As diseases like cancer can never be a quick cure, this “trial and error” strategy is necessary for the most effective results. Compared to saving lives, making minor mistakes (maybe just minor adjustments) is a merit to be worth.
A patient with a warmer body nature or one with a cooler body nature has different abilities to confront the intervention of drugs. Even for the same patient, his dosage of a drug at different stages of his disease should not be the same. Speaking of side effects, the physician shall closely monitor the progress of treatment and recovery by applying the right amount of the same medicine (or a formula) and at the right intervals.
In the western world today, Personalized medicine is already a part of our healthcare. When a doctor uses family history or past medical events and results to make treatment decisions, it is a type of personalized medicine.
TCM is individualized medicine as well as precision medicine.
Some people worry that as personalized medicine is practiced more widely, a number of challenges arise, like approaches to intellectual property rights, reimbursement policies, patient privacy, etc. The purpose of medical science is to save lives and improve human health qualities. Anything that serves this purpose shall have more good reasons than bad to thrive.
Western medicine shall work with TCM to bring about more good news to the general public. Pride and prejudice will never give the patients the best results.
Talk to you next time.