The increase in the worldwide practice of complementary and alternative medicine has attracted
the attention of important organizations, mainly the World Health Organization (WHO), the
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Institutes of Health of
the United States, who along with more than a dozen collaborating centers around the world
have been tasked since 1991 to validate the efficacy and safety of many of these medicines.
Many countries have included alternative medicines within their health systems. In Costa Rica,
work has been done in this regard, but there are many challenges that still arise for its
integration into the prevailing health system.
How does the World Health Organization (WHO) define traditional alternative and
WHO as a major institution defines both traditional and complementary medicines as: diverse
health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs that incorporate plant, animal and mineral-
based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises applied individually or in
combination to maintain well-being, in addition trying to diagnose and prevent disease.
Traditional medicine is considered, as that which belongs to the healing customs of specific
cultures such as, for example, Chinese medicine or Ayurveda from India. All ancient cultures
had some form of medicine that we now classify as traditional, that developed over the years
and that were influenced by historical factors, now part of beliefs and philosophies, not all of
them resisted the onslaught of time, nor the paradigm shifts.
Complementary medicine specialist Miyen Wu chatted with us …
Miyen Wu, is a specialist in complementary medicine, resides in the United States, where she
offers her knowledge, we at TCRN contacted her to give us her point of view on alternative
For Miyen, the difference between complementary and alternative medicine is that, as its name
implies, the alternative comes from the word -alternating something-, which means that there
are options, that a person either chooses one thing or chooses another, “in this case the patient
decides to use alternative medicine instead of conventional western medicine, but in the case of
complementary medicine, we do not separate the patient from his doctor, nor from conventional
medicine, nor from the treatment that the patient has chosen. in western medicine, we
complement and accompany the patient with a protocol, in our case, we called it the Wu
The well-known Wu Protocol contains five elements or concepts especially for the patient,
which are included: Acupuncture, Breathing within meditation (part of traditional Chinese
medicine), which would be the first element. The second is to help the patient to change their
eating habits through a healthy diet, based on Taoist theory, homeopathy, aromatherapy and
Can everyone use these medicines?
For the specialist, Miyen Wu, all people, of all ages, “can have access to complementary
therapies, it can be used in any living being, in dogs, cats, horses, it is used or implemented for
everyone and also for plants, in case they have any parasite or disease.”
Are there other elements within complementary therapies?
Psychotherapy, Reiki, cognitive therapy, hypnotherapy, homeopathy, flower essences
How to manage mental health in these times, from complementary medicine?
Miyen highlighted that complementary medicine or integral medicine, suppose a type of
intervention much less aggressive and impactful as in traditional medicine and the most
important thing about this is that we are talking about a much closer relationship, a new type of
relationship doctor-patient, “of course, listening for patient recovery generates benefits, which
means the synergy of complementary medicine with conventional medicine”, the expert stated.
She added: “There are many tools to manage mental health and one of the most important is to
verbalize and accept that you have a problem.”
Everyone talks about meditation, but what can Miyen Wu tell us about this option?
Another question would be, how can a person manage to meditate or relax? Wu considers that
there are many ways and many meditation techniques, “although meditation is very popular and
has become one of the most used techniques to relax the mind and body, it is always very
important, she says, to remember and choose a path that is simple for the person.
How to know if we are on the right path if we are meditating or relaxing?
Simply put, meditation is a state of inner peace and in order to achieve it it is recommended that
the first step to be taken in relation to breathing, how we are breathing and try to practice it
when waking up and going to bed, when If you are positive, you will begin to feel the effects,
achieving a little more calm, more awakeness and thus lower your stress more, in this sense, it
is important to note that there are many more techniques to achieve relaxation. Very important,
everyone should know that there are indispensable steps for effective mediation, including
connecting with the breathing, with inhalation and exhalation.
Beyond all the information, medicine is described as an art, full of various skills including
listening and carefully examining. The practice of alternative medicine has been described by
the expert, as an art, as a skill in multiple aspects: listening and examining carefully, all this in a
timely manner and with humane treatment.
Maintaining or recovering our health is a human right, so if a health service does not meet our
expectations, we will be looking for alternatives or supplements, since as patients we want at
least the freedom to choose what seems most appropriate to treat our body, this is the
importance of the subject.