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Chinese Traditional Medicine

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Laoshur Find out more about Laoshur
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  • Chinese Traditional Medicine

    I had an interesting, but slightly disappointing, cross-cultural experience yesterday. Two of my students from last semester persuaded me to go to a Chinese traditional doctor - a herbalist. I explained my reluctance to take medicine that I could not look up the side effects to and they promised to thoroughly explain to the doctor why I needed to be so careful. They are worried because I have so much trouble walking. I have "severe" (western doctor's term) degenerative disk disease with all sorts of other spinal problems listed along with that. So I fall frequently and walk like a very old woman at times. When that is coupled with sob when walking so that I gasp between each word when I walk and talk at the same time (and I am not one to miss an opportunity to talk ), the students had really gotten worried about me. So, they said she would just treat my back and see if she thought acupuncture would help.

    Well, first of all, I liked her a lot. She has a kind and caring manner and smiles constantly. She was very calm and yet very sure of herself. I don't know whether most Americans know how diagnosis is made in traditional Chinese medicine, but it is made primarily by taking the pulses in each arm and comparing them. So, other than looking briefly at my tongue and running her hand down my spine after she had already made her diagnosis, that is all she did - took my right wrist pulse and my left wrist pulse.

    I guess somehow I thought she would come up with some new suggestion which would give me great hope, even though I really do not put a lot of confidence in this approach. But she did not. She told me that I needed to get a pacemaker as soon as possible - and did not seem any more impressed by my reasons for waiting until July than the docs in the US. She also told me that my back condition was very severe. I was amazed because I had not told her that the doctors in the US had used that word. She said that there was nothing that could be done to cure my back because I had waited too many years to get help and it was past helping. That is also very similar to what the orthopedic surgeon I saw in the US in February said. She said she could give me medicine that might keep it from getting worse and that she could give me a very low dose of a herb that might relieve some of my heart symptoms. Apparently, she also said something to the three students who went with me to translate to the effect that I was very (here the students could not think of a word to translate what she said when they told me later, so I guessed the word "stubborn." Apparently it was along the lines of the idea that I did not give into pain easily, so I said stubborn was good enough.)

    I agreed to try the herbs she recommended when she assured me that neither was a stimulant. The mother of one of the workers in the International Office works at the Beijing Heart Hospital, so he called a doctor there to make sure that the herbs would do no harm. They said they were not stimulants and that they doubted that they would help at this point, but that they should not harm me. So, I am now taking two unknown (to me) Chinese herbs and we'll see what happens.

    Please understand that I am not moping and am generally laughing and smiling and making fun of myself while I stumble around. I have always been a klutz, so this is not really anything new. But it was a bit of a shock to realize that Chinese medicine reached the same conclusions as western medicine.

    Rhoda

  • #2
    Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

    I think your story is really amazing - the crossing of culture and the agreement in an implantable device. I know devices are difficult for some cultures to get comfortable with, I am happy to hear that this woman is open to it.

    I hope the herbs help your back and I know you have check to make sure they will not have adverse reactions with your current meds.


    Be well,
    Lisa
    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

      Rhoda, I just wanted to thank you for sharing that story. I felt like I was sitting there with you in her office.

      Reenie
      Reenie

      ****************
      Husband has HCM.
      3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

        Hi Rhoda,
        I for one am not particularly surprised at your Chinese doctor coming up with the appropriate diagnoses for your conditions. You don’t go 5,000 years without getting something right

        Personally though, I think most of the doctors conclusions were based on intense observations and the checking of the differences in pulse between your two wrists was really only a small part of the exam. I have hopes that the herbs prescribed really will offer some relief of your symptoms. Please keep us posted on your progress.

        About being a klutz, I was very accident prone as a young adult (under thirty that is). Everybody thought I eventually outgrew it, but I think it was just the situation where after repeatedly hitting your finger with a hammer your aim tends to improve a bit.

        Take care of yourself, and come July, you go get yourself an implantable devise. Don’t bother going to Africa for a third opinion.
        Burt

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

          Hi, Burt!

          Well, I wish I had grown out of my klutziness! I guess some of us just never learn.

          It is interesting what you said about the Chinese doctor's observations, because I would have assumed that that was the case as well, that is that she used things other than pulse. But actually, if she did, she was a bad traditional Chinese doctor. In "A Dream of Red Mansions", a classic Chinese novel, there are several mentions of doctors coming to the family's home. Each time it is clear that the patient lay behind curtains and stuck their arms out, and sometimes their ankles, and the doctor only felt their pulses and made a diagnosis. Since that book was written several hundred years ago, I would have assumed that it was outdated by now and that other bases for diagnosis were used. But, I was telling a student on Sunday that I had seen this doctor, and the student was very disparaging of her. The student said that this doctor was a poor quality traditional Chinese doctor because she asked questions and used information other than just pulses for diagnosis. I tend to think it is all a bit of hocus pocus, but try very hard to be respectful of it because I do know that some Chinese medicine works and because some of my students are very sensitive to anything that implies that we think that western things are better than Chinese.

          Hmmm - Africa! Now there's a thought......

          Rhoda

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

            Hi Rhoda,
            About the performance of Chinese doctors, I’m sure they have a professional attitude (read that façade) the same way western doctors do for the psychological effect it has on the patients.

            In regard to just checking the pulse, how about the color, texture and moistness of the skin? Can’t help but be an aid in the diagnoses process. If they see the patient (and those old accounts I’m sure have taken on added color in the telling) they can learn a lot from the color of the eyes, the general demeanor of the patient, and a hundred other clues they have learned to identify.

            In regard to the medications, I’m sure a great many of the herbal remedies work since they were uncovered by trial and error over the decades. And of course there is also the psychological aspect of the situation. I’d hate to have to guess at how many patients were cured by western doctors using placebos.

            I recall an old treatment (in the west) for bleeding wounds. You went down in the basement or root cellar and got a spider web and placed it over the wound. Actually the web acted as a clotting agent and helped quell the bleeding, lessening the effects of the blood loss. Crude but effective. - Another one has to do with burns. You simply urinated on it. Actually it is a basically sterile liquid containing ureic acid and other ingredients also found in burn treatment medications. Effective, and talk about readily available.

            There are thousands of these “Home Remedies” many of which are at least as effective as the newer methodologies in vogue today, and of course there are some that are down right dangerous. For example, who knows what other kinds of contaminants were sitting on those spider webs used to clot open wounds.

            In any case the hocus pocus of Chinese doctors is probably just as effective as the hocus pocus of western doctors, and the funny part is that most of it works on both continents. As that nameless doctor once said, “The common cold if untreated will last two weeks, while a treated cold is usually cured in just fourteen days.” – or was that Mark Twain?
            And then there are those serious conditions which require serious interventions.

            If you stop in the West Indies on your way home, remember – “Do Do that Voodoo that you do so well.” Take care and let us know how those herbs are working.
            Burt

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

              Wanna know why I am skeptical? Read this:

              http://www.comcast.net/News/HEALTHWE...081f03f28.html

              We hear about this sort of stuff all the time. Does this mean that everything is bad here? No. People are people everywhere and there are wonderful people here as well as some that don't mind killing babies if it will enable them to make money selling fake baby formula or fake medicines or whatever. I bring all my meds from the US as a result.

              As far as the meds are concerned, I can't say they are clearly helping but they do not seem to be hurting. The past couple of days my fluid retention has been better for the first time in months. Is that the meds? Who knows? But I'll keep trying.

              Rhoda

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                Hi Rhoda,
                The baby formula and drug scams mentioned in the article are terrible, but this sort of thing is not in any way limited to China. With the high cost of drugs in the US many people, including seniors on limited incomes, have resorted to buying drugs outside the US. Canada with their good drug laws was a prime source, but since Mr. Bush and his Republican cronies outlawed that, people have gone elsewhere. It is now reported that sixty percent of the drugs shipped from India are either diluted substantially or entirely bogus, and purchasing drugs from other sources is also relatively chancy.

                In regard to your / our water problems, you said that it seems to be getting better. Well, it just may be the herbs. If it works – fine, don’t mess with it. I saw my cardio Thursday and he gave me a prescription for Metolazone. He said it was a mild diuretic by itself, but with the Lasix I’m already on it makes a potent pairing. I’m to take it only one day in three. I’ll race you to see who dries out first.
                Burt

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                  Burt, What do you think the gov. will do to me and my elderly parents if they figure we are getting our meds from canada inspite of their attempts to stop it. I notice the box says scanned everytime but I figured that was just for safety. Since the cost to us with fixed incomes is so prohibitive to buying in country I cannot see us stopping until they haul us off to the big house. The other option is to just go there . we can enter canada in a days trip. I know they are still getting bus loads up there every three months. Thankfully this is not the one thing that is keeping me up at night.I recently did a check on the cost of atenolol and it is still cheaper in the states but via the internet in US it was 1/2 the price on line as compared to cvs store and walgreens store ( $10 cheaper then cvs also.) Who would figure. Well if I go to jail you can bake me a cake with a file in it . Pam
                  Dx @ 47 with HOCM & HF:11/00
                  Guidant ICD:Mar.01, Recalled/replaced:6/05 w/ Medtronic device
                  Lead failure,replaced 12/06.
                  SF lead recall:07,extracted leads and new device 2012
                  [email protected] Tufts, Boston:10/5/03; age 50. ( [email protected] 240 mmHg ++)
                  Paroxysmal A-Fib: 06-07,2010 controlled w/sotalol dosing
                  Genetic mutation 4/09, mother(d), brother, son, gene+
                  Mother of 3, grandma of 3:Tim,27,Sarah,33w/6 y/o old Sophia, 5 y/o Jack, Laura 34, w/ 5 y/o old Benjamin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                    Hi Pam,
                    If the newspaper got the story straight the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts both stated they were going to ignore the ban and continue to import drugs from Canada for their covered employees, as they could not afford to pay US prices. I believe other municipalities are also doing that, but did not announce their intentions. I would think that any attempted prosecutions under this outrageous law would start with them rather then with individuals.

                    Mr. Bush and the Republican majority were bought by the drug lobby who made massive contributions to their reelection campaigns, and so this terrible law – which I believe is not only discriminatory but unconstitutional. I believe the Democrats are trying to get a law passed now which would make it legal again – but who know what will happen.

                    I ordered very expensive drugs from Canada at dramatic savings (Canada sets the price for drugs sold in their country) and since I had to sign for the packages I went to the Post Office to pick them up. On the import sticker it clearly stated that the package contained drugs, yet I had no problem in signing for them and picking them up.

                    I had determined that if I was prosecuted I would fight it as unconstitutional, and if I lost I would hand the judge a list of my medications, special diet, and medical conditions, and take jail rather then paying a fine – let them pick up the tab. Also, my wife would have to go on assistance since she doesn’t drive and still would need food and clothing, etc.

                    Fortunately for me however, the governments plan to push everybody on Medicare into an HMO has worked in my favor, as I am already in a plan. Effective March first my co-pay’s have been reduced and their drug plan picks up more of the drug costs, and the $1,000 per year cap has been completely removed. It is now cheaper to get my drugs from the HMO drug plan then it is to buy from Canada. Since the premiums for the plan are paid by Medicare it really means that the burden has fallen on the already troubled Social Security system. It’s a strange world we live in sometimes.

                    My plan is Secure Horizons, the senior’s group under PacificCare. I doubt that your folks live in the coverage area, but I think similar things have changed in HMO plans across the country. It might pay for them to check things out again.

                    Nice talking with you again. Stay well.
                    Burt

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                      Thanks for the info Burt. Yeah Secure Horizons pulled out of this location a long time ago for elders that is . My parents and I take medicare A&B and we supplement with BC&BS. We picked medex bronze that does not include RX coverage because it is actually cheaper to have the plan with no RX coverage because the meds are so cheap from Canada.The BC plan with RX was astronomical in cost comparison. I had to do a lot of homework to figure this all out. When I asked the shine worker who assists elders with getting the best deal for their minimal buck she told me she could not assist them or council them towards this because being a senior advisor working for the state she was prohibited from encouraging this behavior . What a sad thing for those elders and disabled who don't know how or are too timid to navigate through the bull sh**. The medex Bronze costs $415.98/ quarter/ individual and then the additional $58/ month for medicare part B . But thanks Burt I'll stop looking over my shoulder for the day. Pam
                      Dx @ 47 with HOCM & HF:11/00
                      Guidant ICD:Mar.01, Recalled/replaced:6/05 w/ Medtronic device
                      Lead failure,replaced 12/06.
                      SF lead recall:07,extracted leads and new device 2012
                      [email protected] Tufts, Boston:10/5/03; age 50. ( [email protected] 240 mmHg ++)
                      Paroxysmal A-Fib: 06-07,2010 controlled w/sotalol dosing
                      Genetic mutation 4/09, mother(d), brother, son, gene+
                      Mother of 3, grandma of 3:Tim,27,Sarah,33w/6 y/o old Sophia, 5 y/o Jack, Laura 34, w/ 5 y/o old Benjamin

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                        what would happen if you purchased meds from Canada?? What exactly does Bush think he's going to accomplish?? Yea! Massachusetts makes another smart decision!!
                        \"It is not length of life, but depth of life.\"

                        Ralph Waldo Emerson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                          Nothing happens to me and I've done it for over a year. They come to the house and I don't have to sign , once the mail lady left them on top of a snow bank near the mail box. She asked my mom once if it was medication. Like Burt says let them try and impinge on our right of freedom and choice!
                          Dx @ 47 with HOCM & HF:11/00
                          Guidant ICD:Mar.01, Recalled/replaced:6/05 w/ Medtronic device
                          Lead failure,replaced 12/06.
                          SF lead recall:07,extracted leads and new device 2012
                          [email protected] Tufts, Boston:10/5/03; age 50. ( [email protected] 240 mmHg ++)
                          Paroxysmal A-Fib: 06-07,2010 controlled w/sotalol dosing
                          Genetic mutation 4/09, mother(d), brother, son, gene+
                          Mother of 3, grandma of 3:Tim,27,Sarah,33w/6 y/o old Sophia, 5 y/o Jack, Laura 34, w/ 5 y/o old Benjamin

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                            Hey Guys,
                            I’m basically a very law abiding citizen, but I think Martin Luther King had the right idea with civil disobedience. If the law is bad you don’t have to follow it, but you must be ready to pay the consequences of your actions.

                            How long do you think that law would stay on the books if every US citizen who bought drugs from Canada was incarcerated - especially the senior citizens and disabled? It boggles the mind. Imagine trying to arrest the sovereign state of Massachusetts. Where would you put everybody, or get the money to cloth and feed them. Government only works with the consent of the governed. I hope Mr. Bush finds that out come Election Day.
                            Burt

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                              The thread has drifted away from traditional Chinese medicine, but it has been a while since I have been on the site and I want to add a comment. Longer ago than I care to admit, I studied Chinese history and learned to read classical literary Chinese fairly well, but I was a terrible student who wasted time dabbling here and there. I read a few old books on traditional medicine, including a classic work on the pulse. It was fascinating. Traditional doctors had dozens, if not hundreds of different types and gradations of pulse. After taking pulses from both arms, I would not be surprised to find that the traditional doctor knows more about a patient's heart than a western cardiologist after a doppler echo. It would be fascinating to see what a traditional doctor and an HCM specialist could come up with, if they could just take the time to understand each other. Marv

                              Comment

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