Wholism in Medicine – My Meetings with Dr. Wei-Kung Wang

Wholism (holism) is the idea that different parts are interconnected and cannot be understood without understanding the whole. 

In 1998 a Taiwanese friend from ITRI (the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu) introduced me to Professor Wei-Kung Wang, a research fellow with the Biophysics Laboratory, Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica in Taipei, who had received a Ph.D. in biophysics from John Hopkins University, Baltimore. Dr. Wang was a pioneer in the harmonic analysis of arterial pressure pulse waves. He demonstrated me his method to apply pressure sensors to the arteria radialis next to both arm wrists, transform the pulse by Fourier transformation into 500 resonance frequencies which he could exactly attribute to locations in the body, and from the amplitudes of each resonance frequency locate deficiencies in blood microcirculation.

In my case Dr. Wang detected a deficiency of microcirculation in my feet, below the ankle joints. Then he explained to me that I am very healthy, but that the deficiency he had detected lies on the kidney meridian and that unless I do something to improve the microcirculation at this point I will most likely suffer from kidney disease 20 years later. Suddenly I got extremely excited: kidney disease is an inherited problem of the male members of my family, and I knew that Dr. Wang is probably right. But how could he know? 

During an excursion into the mountains Dr. Wang introduced me into the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and that this science had achieved maturity 2000+ years ago and had passed its zenith about 500 years ago. He told me about the difficulty to distinguish the origins of a disease (he called it grandmother) from the subsequent signs and symptoms (which he called mother and child). In ancient China it was not unusual for doctors to assist an experienced doctor for 16 years before being qualified to practice themselves. Moreover, doctors did not earn money from disease, but were paid for keeping people healthy and able to work. Dr. Wang recommended me to read the book ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine’, the oldest written source on Traditional Chinese Medicine. He also gave me recommendations on how to improve my malfunctional localized microcirculation. I followed his advice, and when I met Dr. Wang again half a year later, my microcirculation had already improved. 20 years later my kidney is still healthy. Dr. Wei-Kung Wang passed away on 25 October 2017, but left us a plethora of publications. Worthwhile reading is his article ‘Past, Present, and Future of the Pulse Examination (脈診 mài zhěn)’ (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942893/?report=printable).

Dr. Wang has drawn my interest to holistic medicine. This is not to be mistaken as ‘alternative medicine’ and is not in contradiction to classic western medicine. But it requires a deeper look into the etiology of disease, and keeping in mind that the therapy of symptoms without knowing the etiology of disease may trigger uncontrolled reactions of the body (including undesired side effects). My chapter on the homeostasis of the ocular surface is an attempt to initiate a holistic view of at least a little piece of our body.

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