Eighth International Congress on Traditional Asian Medicine (ICTAM)

Sancheong, Korea

9-13 September 2013

I chose to go to ICTAM to learn more about Korean and Tibetan medicine, and to experience a gathering concentrating on the context, not the content, of Asian medicine. I found an astonishing array of panels. This meant participants could choose to concentrate on Korean medicine, Indian medicine, anthropologists’ studies, the Shan Han Lun from a historian’s viewpoint, or to mix it all up, as I did.

All talks left me thinking; Volker Sheid began with his keynote address on ‘Beyond Integration – reflections on Asian Medicine in the C21st’’, while Vivienne Lo closed the conference with her personal experience on filling in her own gaps (and mine) – wondering, as a student thirty-plus years ago, what preceded the various proscriptions she learnt from Dr van Buren, and decades later uncovering the classical roots to his astrological and alchemical components.

Afterwards, whilst climbing the forest walk to the temple, an anthropologist asked me what a practitioner got from attending such a meeting. I told her that in co-writing an undergraduate course 30 years ago, we (Judy James and I) concentrated on sending out safe and effective practitioners who could solve problems for those who fell through the considerable gaps in biomedical care.

We had no time to look at Asian medicine’s extensive history or context. Back then, as within this conference, there was no question that Asian medicine worked; we were interested in how to use it.

At the conference, I felt awe at the depth of commitment, and the historical ruminations from experts living and breathing different aspects of Asian medicine on how it has, and still affects lives of countless people. I was also inspired by the diligence, humility and eagerness the Korean medicine students displayed when assisting us all, even with the language barriers.

We were all given copies of the boxed set of the Donguibogam (400 years of the penning of this – a UNESCO project to get it into English home to study.

This was an unexpected amazing gift. I thankfully investigated it the first night as there was a two hour session on its history on the Tuesday morning, and I also found a session lending me a brief understanding of the three different types of Korean diagnostic methods which underpin the Korean traditional medical models.

Being exposed to the Avuryedic model, and listening to many shamanistic (Mongolian and Tibetan) practitioners, I was left really wondering why we only talk of Chinese medicine in the west.

Finding many women my age, who have been working as teachers and clinicians for as long as I have – and many who trained under Dr van Buren – and the rounding out of our human experience, as older women was another gift.

For me attending the ICTAM was remarkable. All participants formed a part of a giant human puzzle.

Amongst gracious hosts, stunning scenery, at times exquisite banquets, thought provoking plenary and panel sessions, plus added trips to the Haein-sa Temple, a visit to the Korean Institute of Oriental Medicine, the World Traditional Medicine expo.

Nine of us also received a free spa session, where I also experienced mother roasting and received a continual stream of practical gifts.

At the end when in Seoul, some of us attended the Acupotomy hospital to watch Dr Lee

Acupotomy Clinic Visit

ACTAM VIII was a brief holiday with lasting effect upon my clinical practice.

(I also gave a 2 hour clinical workshop and a 20 minute Bells Palsy talk)

 Heather’s Presentations: