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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Traditional Chinese Medicine with a Modern Spin

It is certainly not nice to be ill. It would be even worst if this happens when travelling. On the bright side tho, if you happen to be sick in Hong Kong, it may be an opportunity to try alternative medicine: Modern Chinese Medicine.


Chinese medicine has been around for hundreds and thousands of years. While Western medicine focuses on targeting symptoms within a short period of time, Chinese medicine focuses on overall relief using milder measures. Some say that Chinese medicine aims to create harmony within one's body by balancing Yin and Yang. In layman's terms, compared with Western medicine, Chinese medicine will less likely to cause side effects, tho it would take longer to work its magic.

Recently I had my first ever encounter with Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. To be frank, it would take plenty of courage for travellers to attempt Chinese medicine some twenty years ago. Imagine sitting with a medical practitioner in a tiny, dusty and rusty dark room. This mysterious old man placed his fingers on your wrist below your palm. He closed his eyes while measuring your pulse. He then opened his eyes and scribbled on a yellow piece of paper with his Chinese pen brush. This was how I would image my visit to be anyway.

With the help of modern technologies, the industry has revolutionized itself in Hong Kong. During my visit, a medical practitioner sat in an air conditioned modern clinic and took my pulse. He was friendly, talkative and even explained what preventive measures I should take (in addition to the recommended medication). This old gentlemen caught be my pleasant surprise when he began to type my prescription into his computer, which was then prepared by the clinic.
 
Although consultation fee and medication fee are separate items, most people would purchase medication from the clinic as the prescription usually consist of a combination of raw plants and herbs that are not available in every street corner. The prescribed plants and herbs are not the actual medicine that patients would take. Rather, these have to be boiled in water for a prescribed duration into a concentrated juice. The soup is usually served warm. 

In the past, patients would either purchase the raw materials and cook the medication at home; or make frequent visits to the clinic and wait for the clinic to cook on their behalf. This would usually take a while as there are limited number of stoves at the clinic.

Nowadays, modern Chinese clinics are equipped with machines that cook medication with efficiencies. Once prepared, the concentrated juice are packed in vacuum sealed packets that patients are store in the fridge. Patients simply has to warm the juice when it is time to take medication. I was prescribed with one week of medication and was able to store these in the fridge.

At the end, whether Chinese medication worked its magic or whether my body healed itself became a secondary issue. I had an eye opening experience.