Sunday, June 27, 2010

China: Traditional Chinese Medicine

Blog Assignment - Week 4:

I was excited to visit a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Typically I would not be thrilled to perform an interview for a school project, but I was eager to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine. With my major in the medical sciences and my experience being vegan, I have grown interested in alternative medicines. My enthusiasm for whole and organic food has also made me a believer in the impact of diet on overall health and effectiveness of natural remedies.

The moment we walked into the Traditional Chinese Medicine building, my nose was in bliss. A warm aroma of different herbs was drifting through the halls, reminding me of the small co-op I used to go to with my mom when I was little. It was even more delightful because I believe this was the very first time since coming to China that I have actually thought how good the air smelled.

We walked further down the hall to a small room where the doctor saw his patients. I was surprised to find about 10 people in the room, even though the doctor was currently diagnosing a patient. There was definitely no worry about any doctor-patient confidentially or privacy. The waiting patients surrounded the periphery of the small room while the current patient sat at the desk with the doctor. The doctor would ask the patient questions, take his/her pulse, and observe his/her general appearance. He would then write a prescription before moving on to the next patient.

While waiting for our turn to ask the doctor questions, we had time to talk to the patients. One of the topics we discussed that I found most interesting is the choice between using Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine. For complex diseases such as cancer, Western medicine was used. However, major Western procedures, such as chemotherapy for cancer, damage the body while curing the disease. That is where Chinese medicine can come in - to heal the damage caused by the Western treatment.

We finally got our turn to speak to the doctor, with Wang Kai and Anne as our translators. The whole ordeal was somewhat confusing; we would tell Wang Kai our question, he would ask the doctor, and then Anne would tell us the doctors responds. There were times where there were four people talking at once!

The experience was very educational and interesting. I learned that Chinese medicine is meant to look at the body as a whole while Western medicine typically just looks at the disease. When you really think about it, a lot of aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine make sense. A large percentage of medications are based off medicinal plants, so why not go back to nature when you can? I believe that Western medicine could benefit if used in conjunction with alternative medicines such as Traditional Chinese medicine, especially in aspects such as herbal therapies and diet modification. I have personal experiences of the power of whole and organic food that can be connected to natural remedies such as those found in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and fully support them in the correct context.

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