On June 11th I got to participate in the 1st Annual Chinese Medicine Debate 2011 sponsored by the Pine Street Foundation.

I attended the training and became part of one of eight teams to debate seven topics in three rounds of debates.  Each team, through a lottery, was assigned a topic and a side to the argument.

These were the topics my team prepared for:

Round 1:

Chinese Medicine is a fad in the US and its viability, as an independent medical intervention does not have a dynamic future.  Arguing in the negative.

Round 2:

Resolved: The sustainability of important cultural habits (cultural relativism) should allow Chinese herbal medicine, including endangered species.  Arguing in the negative

Round 3:

Resolved: Chinese medicine should be embraced as an essential part of the US national health care reform. Arguing in the negative.

I will post the link to the video as soon as it is ready.

Our team members were Efrem Korngold L.Ac (Captain), assisted by myself, Jumbe Allen L.Ac, Bina Jangda L.Ac, Tracy Zollinger, L.Ac and Jennifer Paltro L.Ac.  Despite busy schedules we managed to find time to meet and work on the arguments and learn new things from each other.

We had two months to research and write arguments that would persuade the audience to vote for us so we could move to the next round of debate.  Fortunately, we had a great team and managed to write convincing arguments.

In the first round, defending that Chinese Medicine is not a fad was fun as I learned about the history of Chinese Medicine in the United States.  Given the popularity of Chinese Medicine, the increase in the number of graduates and practitioners around the country and use of Chinese Medicine in conventional medicine, it was not difficult to defend our position and move to round 2.

The second round was the most difficult question of the debate, for me,  and we we up against a team who were very well prepared and were arguing the affirmative of the argument.  Their position was a difficult to defend in this age of global devastation, and they spoke with passion and with good points or defending the use of endangered species responsibly.  However the audience votes ended up to give us the winning position.  We argued that the use of endangered species was not necessary in Chinese Medicine, especially given that it is easy to substitute non-endangered herbs if need be.  Once a species is gone, there is no going back.  We successfully moved to round 3, the grand finale of the debate.

In the final round, as much as I had originally thought it would be difficult to argue against having Chinese Medicine be a part of health care reform, it was not.  Once all the information was gathered and it became clear that if we, as doctors of Chinese Medicine, are to become part of health care reform, we should be sitting at the table as equal partners, and not reduced to just acupuncture technicians, which unfortunately is happening. Chinese Medicine works best when it is used in the context it was created in, not adapted to fit a conventional medical model.

In the end, the audience voted and we edged out our competitors by a few votes and were honored with the title.

This was such a great way to get to know and work with a team of Chinese Medicine practitioners to get a dialogue started about some very important questions facing our practice.

Thank you Pine Street Clinic for creating this opportunity to discuss current topics in Chinese Medicine.  It gets my vote for best CEU class of 2011.

Dr. Anahita