The Dangers of Eastern Alternative Medicine (I)

Integrative medicine is being embraced in Western academia

Eastern Alternative Medicine enjoys increasing popularity all over the world today. In many countries, it is frequently sought as an alternative therapy to conventional medicine.

The New Age movement has also popularized Eastern alternative healing practices in the West, hence, they can be termed New Age medicine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 40 per cent of adults use complimentary and alternative medicine. The combination of these therapies with conventional medicine is called “integrative medicine.”

This can be classified into ancient healing systems (from China, India etc), naturopathy (acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage and lifestyle counseling) and mind-body medicine.

Many Christians are introduced to Eastern alternative medicine by doctors, counselors and individuals (even church leaders) with scientific credentials. They are told that Holistic medicine works better than mainstream medicine and comparatively has no side effects.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is presented as a set of “natural remedies” for longevity and health preserved by ancient Eastern sages.

For some, their use is interwoven with their culture. I have been reliably informed that many Christians in the East patronize such alternative therapies.

New Age medicine are largely alternative therapy to physiologically, scientifically, medically based analysis, diagnosis and treatment.

They are also called holistic medicine because they claim to deal with the spiritual side of man and utilise it to effect physical healing. Scientists agree that these therapies do sometimes work, but their efficacy cannot be scientifically explained.

Scientific studies have revealed that Eastern medicine can be harmful. They “show very clearly how dangerous the products of TCM can be,” says Frite Sorgel, head of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Nuremberg, Germany. “The public needs to be better informed about these dangers,” he said.

Researchers at Murdoch University, using modern sequencing technology, analysed 15 samples of traditional Chinese medicine by extracting the DNAs from the mixture.

Through this method, they identified the DNA of animals and plants used in preparing the medicine. The scientists found DNAs of some animals present in the mixture which weren’t listed on the pack.

They also found potentially toxic chemicals as part of the herbs which could become carcinogenic, as well as chemicals that could pose danger to health when used in combination with other drugs. [1]

Drs. Stalker and Glymour observe that “holistic medicine is not a scientific tradition. It has no paradigmatic work, no recognized set of problems, and no shared standards for what constitutes a solution to those problems; it also lacks the critical exchange among its practitioners that is characteristic of the sciences.” [2]

This shows the potential of Eastern alternative medicine in weakening the demands of scientific evidence and rational thinking even within the medical community.

Most of what are touted as therapies and “clinical trials” in New Age journals are not science but religion.

Dr. Thomas Chalmers, a distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, after examining the scientific quality of articles in the Journal of Holistic Medicine says that the journal “has a long way to go to achieve the same standards of scientific reporting as the more orthodox journals.”

There are five major differences between scientific medicine and New Age medicine

1. Scientific medicine is based on the starting premise that diseases operate at the physical level and should be treated physically.

But New Age medicine is based on the premise that diseases begin at the energy level and should be treated energetically or psychically.

2. Conventional medicine is rooted in materialism or naturalism which is quite compatible with Christian theism.

On the other hand, alternative therapy is rooted in occultism, pantheism (”all is God and God is all”) and spiritualism.

3. Scientific medicine is based on scientific disciplines such as chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biology and pharmacology but New Age medicine is based on Hinduism, Taoism, American Indian spirituality and Western occultism.

4. In conventional medicine, diagnostic methods are based on physical, observable and consistent methodologies, whereas Holistic medicine is based on psychical, subjective and contradictory techniques.

5. Mainstream medicine is backed by scientific data, clinical trials, confirmed medical testing and peer review. Eastern alternative medicine is based on little or no data, no proven methods, uncritical attitudes and pragmatic measures.

Most scientists agree that such alternative techniques work as a Placebo effect, because their efficacy cannot be empirically tested or repeated. It cannot be scientifically explained why it works for some people but not for others.

But one thing is clear: the principles behind such alternative medicine are neither novel nor scientific. They are old techniques utilised by witchdoctors for centuries before they found their feet in medicine.

Michael Harner, a shaman, wrote:

The word ‘holistic’ is an euphemism for witchcraft … The burgeoning field of holistic medicine shows a tremendous amount of experimentation involving techniques long practiced in Shamanism, such as visualization, altered states of consciousness, aspects of psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, meditation, positive attitude, stress reduction, and mental and emotional expression of personal will for health and healing. In a sense, Shamanism is being reinvented in the West precisely because it’s needed.” [3]

Although Eastern alternative medicine is often camouflaged with scientific, neutral or spiritual terms, it is based on ancient occult principles.

All through history witch doctors, pagan priests/priestesses, spiritualists and occult healers in different cultures have sought the spirit world and followed demonic instructions on how healing can be attained.

Dr. Walter Addison Jayne, in his work, The Healing Gods of Ancient Civilization chronicled the dramatic influence of the gods and spirits in ancient medicine. “The spirit guides supply constant medical advice … and even give treatment in case of illness,” he wrote.

Below are three examples of occult concepts on which New Age medicine is based:

a) Chi/Qi

This means “breath,” gas, energy flow, life force which is believed to permeate everything in the world, link their surroundings together and flow through the human body. It is an underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and martial arts.

In most pagan belief systems, Chi/Qi is said to be an impersonal energy which flows through various “meridians” of the human body. When its flow is blocked, disrupted or unbalanced, diseases result.

Now, this is simply one of the basic tenets of witchcraft, that there is an impersonal life force that can be tapped into and used for various purposes:

“We refer to the substance as psychic energy. The same substance is called ‘Prana’ by yogis, ‘Chis’ by practitioners of the martial arts, and ‘bio-energy’ by therapists.” [4]

From a Biblical perspective, we know there are no “impersonal energies” animating everything on earth – for that is based on the pagan lie of Pantheism. These so called “energies” are actually demon spirits and they are very personal (1 Cor. 8:5-6).

“Perhaps it is this concept of a cosmic, universal, mystical or “divine” life energy (supposedly uniting people, God, and the universe) that is most frequently associated with Spiritistic phenomena.

For example, New Age medicine teaches that in order to really understand health and disease, we must switch our thinking from a model of health based on matter to one based primarily on energy. In the end, this is an open door to spiritism under another name. [5]

b) Wu Xing

This refers to the five elements, five phases or five agents (the types of chi dominating at different times). In Chinese occultism, these five elements are: wood, fire, earth, water and metal.

In Western occultism, the five elements are: air, fire, earth, water and spirit (or ether).

In the East, the elements are also linked with five seasons: wood (spring), fire (summer), earth (late summer), water (winter) and metal (harvest).

Wu Xing dates back to the earliest records of Chinese intellectual history.

“Shang dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.E.), oracle bone inscriptions (used in divination rituals to predict and discern outcomes in nature and human affairs) rely on the number five. Typically, this is the pattern of four around a center, where four represent the cardinal directions expressed in the territories…” [6]

The Wu Xing is widely applied in geomancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), astrology, music and martial arts. It is a basic belief of witchcraft.

The spirits associated with the four elements are linked with the four cardinal points and the four seasons of Western hemisphere. These elemental spirits are often invoked in witchcraft rituals.

When a famous witch, Laurie Cabot was featured on an edition of NBC’s Sunday Today programme, using a pentacle (the 5-pointed star emblem of witchcraft), she conjured spirits, saying: “Earth … air… fire…and water…and the Great Spirit, I invoke the god and goddess within my body.” [7]

This concept is denounced by the Bible (Deut. 32:20-21).

c) Yin-Yang

These are complimentary cosmic forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled part.

Yin is the “female principle” – dark, negative, passive and associated with the moon. Yang is the “male principle” – light, positive, active and associated with the sun.

It is believed that there must be harmony between both forces for there to be “balance” and life.

Zhuang Zhou, an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC wrote:

“The highest Yang is the most restrained. The highest Yin is the most restrained. The highest Yang is the most exuberant. The restrained comes forth from Heaven. The exuberant issues forth from the Earth. The two intertwine and penetrate to form a harmony, and [as a result] things are born”. [8]

What Zhuang is reiterating is the father-mother (sky-earth) binary interwoven into all fertility pagan systems where a sun deity is complimented with a moon goddess.

In Taoism, this is represented by the Tai-Chi symbol which says that there is no distinction between good and bad.

Philosophically, yin-yang implies that good must be balanced with evil. Thus, occult circles have the light “right hand” paths and the dark “left hand” paths. But the Bible teaches the opposite: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5).

This is a compelling reason why Christians should avoid Eastern alternative medicine. They lead Christians astray from Biblical truth because they are founded on a view of reality that is contrary to Scripture.

They are not pointing to the Creator of the universe, but powers, energies, forces or a “mind” out there. They are based on tapping into an occult energy which the Bible unmasks as powers emanating from Satan and his demons.

Barbara Brennan, a New Age healer who was ranked in 2011 as the 94th most spiritually influential person in the world, revealed in her book that demon spirit guides usually healed her patients when she applies her techniques, sometimes taking them out of their bodies while they are unconscious.

She said: “I usually have about three [spirit] teachers that guide me. The person who has come to me for help will usually be accompanied by his guide or guides” [9].

Indeed, people can pick up strange spirits by consulting Eastern healing therapies.

In part two and three, I will be highlighting some examples of these occult healing techniques and what a Christian needs to watch out for before adopting a trending “healing therapy.”


1. Kai Kupferschmidt, The Dangers of Chinese Medicine brought to life by DNA Studies, 2012 (Coghlan et al., PloS Genetics 8)

2. Michael R. Miller and Josephine M. Harper, The Psychic Energy Workbook, Aquarian Pub., 1987, 9

3. Michael Harner, The Way of the Shaman, HarperOne, 1980, 136.

4. Douglas Stalker and Clark Glymour, Examining Holistic Medicine, Prometheus Books, 1989, 26.

5. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House Pub., 1996, 492.

6. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, art. “Wuxing”.

7. David Benoit and Eric Barger, Entertaining Spirits Unaware, Evangel Publication, 2000, 49.

8. Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Zhuangzi, New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

9. Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Fields, Bantam Publishers, 1988, 171.