Well Org

A New Functional Medicine: The Integration of TCM, Yoga, Reiki and More in Western Medical Care

The notion that there is some unbridgeable chasm between modern, Western medicine and older and alternative health modalities rests is built on a false pretense. Medicine is not religion, built on a fixed, dogmatic set of principles: it is a science, dynamically responding to evolving bodies of knowledge. Instead of being opposed, the different modalities inform and enrich each other and evolve year by year, study by study, patient by patient. Around the world, more and more doctors and institutions agree: The ultimate medicine is the one that works.

This philosophy of functional medicine has taken hold in the formerly rigid American hospital system in the past decade. Nowadays, you will find reiki healers in the ICU, acupuncturists in the cancer ward, and yoga instructors working alongside the physical therapists, all in the name of delivering optimal outcomes.


When researchers first described so called placebo effect in the 1930s, it was written off as a measurement more of a patient’s suggestibility than a hint to the secret of how healing actually happens. Classically, it is what happens to those who in both long and short term illness, recovery happens when one’s mind aligns with the possibility of it.

Reiki is a system of energetic medicine derived from a combination of Daoist, Zen, and Shinto influences in Japan in the middle of the 20th century. In it, practitioners develop the ability to channel bio-electric energy through their hands, voices, and bodies. They hone a sense for misalignments and hidden situations in their clients, and use a language of symbols, gestures, and thought forms to correct imbalance and promote healthy flow.

In short, it is about as far from the pharmacopeia interventionary allopathy that dominates most Western clinics as a treatment can get. And yet there is a funny thing about Reiki: it works. The body and the consciousness of those receiving Reiki consistently demonstrate improved wellness, both self-reported and experimentally verified.

Because of its effectiveness, Reiki has been adopted by leading chemotherapy centers around the nation for its ameliorative and pain-reducing potential. Stanford, Mercy, Cleveland, Mount Sinai, and countless other hospitals now have Reiki healers on rotation throughout their long-term wards, and many more will be adopting the modality in years to come.


TCM and acupuncture, in contrast, rely very little on suggestibility or placebo: they are inventionary modes that include the what is likely the widest array of therapies of any medical system in the world — which makes a lot of sense when you remember that it is also among the world’s longest-standing traditions, with an unbroken history that stretches back at least 5000 years.

The difference between TCM and allopathy is that TCM starts with a very different theory of optimal bodily function. Instead of considering each bodily system or acute ailment in a vacuum and working to eliminate the symptoms of a particular disease, Chinese medicine operates under the notion that the wellness is inexorably holistic, and all ailments must be considered relative to the whole body.

There are several interlocking theories that grow out of this foundation: the five-elements theory; the vital fluids theory; and the polarity theory. In essence, they combine to describe and treat illness on the basis of enhancing deficiency or relieving excess, and thereby bringing balance and wellness to the body as a whole.

That Chinese herbalists and acupuncturists are now regularly working side by side with allopathic MDs shows just how far we have come in our commitment to health above dogma. Despite working from a wholly different set of precepts about the body, therapies have been devised that integrate both systems, often using TCM as a complement to restore vitality to a patient undergoing intensive and draining hospital treatments. Now, instead of being called alternative medicine, TCM is more and more being referred to as ‘complementary’ medicine, for its proven benefits when applied alongside allopathy.


The Vedic wellness system of yoga has travelled around the world and back, going from a mysterious cult a century ago to one of the most well-researched and incredibly popular modalities in the world today. It has been estimated that there are over 400 million regular yoga practitioners worldwide, and that over 2 billion of us have tried it. Like Reiki and TCM, its overwhelming popularity is due to one factor above all others: its remarkable effectiveness.

A recent study has shown that patients recovering from injuries that require extended hospital stays regained full function and mobility up to 40% when practicing yoga alongside PT than the control group practicing PT alone.

Yoga’s benefits for hospital patients extend beyond the physical. Patients undergoing long-term treatments consistently report that regular yoga practice improves their mood, makes them more optimistic, and leads to bette long term outcomes to their treatment.

At Well, we believe in a future where true wellness is prized above any rigid philosophy or dictate — a vision of Prosperity for all. This integration is just the beginning: the coming decades will see the revolution towards optimal health continue to change medicine of all kinds for the better.