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Chapter 12: Eastern medicine versus Western medicine

It’s known as alternative medicine in the U.S., but for many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it’s their primary or only source of healthcare. We’re talking about Eastern medicine or Traditional Chinese medicine, or as some still call it, “Oriental medicine.” 

In this episode of our award-winning podcast, Exit Spring Mountain, we’re examining the history and modern interpretations of this 3,000-year-old practice. 

Long considered in America as an exotic curiosity, the ancient medicine has become more mainstream. In Nevada's newest medical practice by the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC), they plan to offer both Eastern and Western medicine examining the body as a whole. The Healthy Asians and Pacific Islanders medical center, or HAPI, opened in August west of Chinatown. The center's medical director, Dr. Michelle Lin said it's a "one stop shop" for anyone who wants to reap the benefits of both medical philosophies.

"Just the thought of prescribing medications or doing surgery didn't seem like fun for me and didn't seem... it would be very effective. And partially because I grew up exposed to Chinese medicine," she said. 

Besides speaking English, all medical professionals in the building must also speak at least one Asian language. The center will also accept any patient regardless of insurance or citizenship status.

"We want people that are not documented to be able to feel comfortable with their health care. [We will] provide scholarships for them. They don't have to have... certain paperwork. We just need to know that they're in need," said Dr. Lin.

Miss an episode? Catch up on the last season here!


The Exit Spring Mountain team includes  senior producer Nessa Concepcion, academic research consultant Mark Padoongpatt and assistant producer and social media manager Isabelle Chen Rice. Our sound editing, mixing and mastering is by Christopher Alvarez.

Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host and executive producer. 

Like and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and leave us a review. Also, follow us on Instagram  @ExitSpringMountain.

Tamara Venit Shelton, professor of history, Claremont McKenna College; Vince Link, O.M.D., doctor, Link Oriental Medicine;  Michelle Lin, M.D., director, HAPI medical center  

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a former producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports.