‘Digital Chinese Medicine (DCM)’: From Acupuncture to Algorithms and the Digital Transformation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
President of the International Society for Medical Laser Applications (ISLA transcontinental; since 2012), German Vice President of the German-Chinese Research Foundation (DCFG) for TCM (since 2014), Honorary President of the European Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies (2023), Honorary Professor of China Beijing International Acupuncture Training Center, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (2023), Graz/Austria/Europe
Received: November 19, 2023 | Accepted: November 20, 2023 | Published: November 20, 2023
OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2023, Volume 8, Issue 4, doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2304054
Recommended citation: Litscher G. ‘Digital Chinese Medicine (DCM)’: From Acupuncture to Algorithms and the Digital Transformation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2023; 8(4): 054; doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2304054.
© 2023 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is correctly cited.
In the era of technological advancement, traditional practices are undergoing a digital revolution, and Chinese medicine is no exception (Figure 1) [1,2,3,4,5]. The convergence of ancient healing wisdom and innovative technology has given rise to Digital Chinese Medicine (DCM). This phenomenon has the potential to transform the healthcare landscape around the world. This editorial aims to delve into the nuances of this emerging field and examine its potential, challenges, and potential impact on the future of healthcare.
Figure 1 Schematic image for robot-assisted acupuncture within Digital Chinese Medicine (DCM). © G. Litscher (robot hand: Creative Commons CC0).
2. The Fusion of Tradition and Technology
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is deeply rooted in balance, harmony, and the flow of life energy, known as Qi. Integrating digital technologies into these old practices opens new avenues for personalized and data-driven healthcare solutions. From mobile apps that guide medical doctors through acupuncture routines to wearable devices that continuously monitor vital signs based on Chinese medical principles, the fusion of tradition and technology in complementary medicine is changing how we approach health and wellness.
3. Personalized Medicine
One of the vital strengths of DCM is its ability to offer personalized medicine. By using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, digital platforms can analyze individual health data, consider traditional Chinese diagnostic methods, and provide tailored recommendations to address specific imbalances. This increases the effectiveness of treatments and allows individuals to take an active role in their health management.
4. Teleacupuncture, Telemedicine, and Accessibility
The digitalization of Chinese medicine has also paved the way for greater accessibility. Telemedicine platforms connect patients with qualified doctors regardless of geographical restrictions. This is particularly important for those who may not have easy access to traditional Chinese medicine clinics or practitioners. An innovative concept of teleacupuncture technology was implemented at the TCM Research Center Graz in Austria by the author's research group 2010 in cooperation with different institutions in China over several thousands of kilometers [6,7,8,9,10].
Digital consultations allow individuals to seek advice, receive herbal prescriptions, and access therapeutic interventions from the comfort of their own homes.
5. Data Challenges and Ethical Considerations
However, as we embrace the promise of DCM, it is critical to overcome its challenges. Privacy, security, and ethical use of health information are primary concerns. Finding the balance between harnessing the power of data to deliver personalized treatments and protecting individual privacy is a complex task that requires careful consideration.
6. Cultural Sensitivity and Integration
Another challenge is to ensure that DCM respects its cultural and holistic character. The integration of technology should complement traditional practices and not dilute their essence. To achieve widespread adoption and promote collaboration between modern healthcare systems and TCM, finding a balance between innovation and cultural sensitivity is essential.
7. Regulation and Research
Primary research and regulation are essential to gain wider acceptance for DCM. Scientific studies to validate the effectiveness of digital interventions based on traditional Chinese medical principles are crucial. In addition, regulatory frameworks must be created to ensure the security and quality of digital health solutions in this area.
DCM represents a revolutionary healthcare paradigm that combines ancient wisdom with cutting-edge technology. The potential to deliver personalized, accessible, and holistic healthcare experiences is enormous but presents several challenges. As we navigate this evolving landscape, it is essential to encourage collaboration, conduct rigorous research, and establish ethical guidelines to realize the full potential of DCM in shaping the future of healthcare.
The author did all the research work for this study.
The author hereby declares that no conflict of interest exists in connection with the publication of this editorial.
- Zhang W, Zhang C, Cao L, Liang F, Xie W, Tao L, et al. Application of digital-intelligence technology in the processing of Chinese materia medica. Front Pharmacol. 2023; 14: 1208055. [CrossRef]
- Xie J, Jing C, Zhang Z, Xu J, Duan Y, Xu D. Digital tongue image analyses for health assessment. Med Rev. 2022; 1: 172-198. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G. Which way does a generation of acupuncture researchers influenced by computers and robots go? Med Acupunct. 2023; 35: 105-106. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G. The future of laser acupuncture-robot-assisted laser stimulation and evaluation. Life. 2022; 13: 96. [CrossRef]
- Chen YL, Lan KC, Hou MC, Tsai HH, Litscher G. Reflex Auriculo-Cardiac (RAC) induced by auricular laser and needle acupuncture: New case results using a smartphone. Life. 2023; 13: 853. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G, Cheng G, Wang L, Cheng W, Su H, Niu Q, et al. Biomedical teleacupuncture between China and Austria using heart rate variability-part 2: Patients with depression. Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2012; 2012: 145904. [CrossRef]
- Wang L, Valentini J, Sugimoto K, Cheng W, Cheng G, Geng H, et al. Biomedical teleacupuncture between China and Austria using heart rate variability, part 1: Poststroke patients. Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2011; 2011: 782489. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G. Transcontinental and translational high-tech acupuncture research using computer-based heart rate and “Fire of Life” heart rate variability analysis. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2010; 3: 156-164. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G. Transcontinental acupuncture research using teleacupuncture. Promed Komplementär. 2009; 2: 8-11. [CrossRef]
- Litscher G. Teleacupuncture: A new approach for transcontinental long-distance cooperation between Graz, Austria and Beijing, China (7,650 km). Med Acupunct. 2009; 21: 223-224. [CrossRef]