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Oriental medicine out to prove itself

Jaseng’s Royer says Oriental medicine focuses on balance of inner energy


Many Koreans visit Oriental medical doctors for stamina or chi improvement. Yet, the field is less visited for treatment of ordinary diseases, industry insiders admit.

But Oriental medicine is slowly earning a reputation for seeing the disease and the body condition from a larger perspective. It is the hot spot for foreigners seeking to take care of their health without pharmaceuticals or excessive treatments. 
Raimund Royer, medical director of the international clinic at Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine, checks the pulse of a foreign patient at his office in Seoul.  (Courtesy of Jaseng Hospital)
Raimund Royer, medical director of the international clinic at Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine, checks the pulse of a foreign patient at his office in Seoul.  (Courtesy of Jaseng Hospital)

At the center of the boom is Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine, which attracts thousands of foreigners to 22 of its branches nationwide. Dr. Raimund Royer, medical director of international clinic, argues that oriental medicine is not inferior to conventional medicine but reaches out in more different directions than its Western counterpart.

“While Western medics focus on the specific diagnosis and concentrates on bettering a certain symptom, Oriental doctors are more focused on making the balance of the inner energy,” Royer said.

“If you feel sick on one particular place, the doctors will try to measure your pulse, look into the whole body and try to figure out what has broken the balance to cause the abnormality. In this way, we are able to track down some other disorders apart from the original symptoms. If you have a headache, it’s not always good to take painkillers but look deeper into what has triggered the symptoms,” he added.

One of Jaseng’s specialties is Chuna manual medicine for spine and nerves, which is an orthopedic treatment for spinal and joint diseases.

“You can easily spot doctors recommending surgeries but with manual treatments and appropriate medicines, we can reduce the chances of going under the knife at a dramatic pace,” he said.

Of course, Royer does not deny the scientific and evidence-based logic of Western medicine. The hospital has also adopted MRI, CT and several medical devices used at general hospitals by joining hands with conventional medical doctors to enhance accuracy in examination and diagnosis.

The hospital’s research team has also won the Korea Food and Drug Administration’s approval for Shinbarometine, an extract from various Oriental medical herbs that helps the recovery of joints. “The team has been working with hospitals and medical experts worldwide including those at Harvard University. We will prove that Oriental medicines could be just as effective and ‘healing’ as Western medicines in their evidence-based verification system,” Royer said.

Royer, the first foreigner to become an Oriental doctor two decades ago and currently the goodwill ambassador of the Korea Tourism Organization to promote medical tourism, stressed that Oriental medicine is as effective for foreigners, regardless of their race, as on Koreans. “Humans are the same. There might be some characteristic differences, but overall, what is effective on Koreans is effective on other Asians, Caucasians, Africans and others,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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