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  • #16
    Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

    Hi Marv,
    From your name it appears that you are possibly not oriental – or at least were born in the US. To then learn how to read classical literary Chinese just blows me away. I am so linguistically handicapped I count myself lucky to have learned English – and I WAS born here. I spent over a year in Korea and Japan and was only able to garner a lexicon of maybe a dozen words while there.

    About your comments on the pulse, frankly I find it a bit hard to swallow, and think there is a lot of color added to the stories. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot to be learned from the pulse, but there is a lot of other things to also observe in the process, such as; skin – warm, cold, damp, dry, clear, blotched – Fingernails – color, shape, condition, mal-formations, etc. I could go on and on – that’s why I just can’t see these doctors, with such highly developed powers of observation, ignoring all these other possible markers.

    Using just the pulse, - how would that effect the diagnoses by a doctor on the ground floor as compared to a doctor in a three story walk-up, as compared to a house call to a bed ridden patient, to a frightened patient, to a calm patient, to a hungry patient, to a stuffed full patient, etc, etc?

    I’m sorry, when there are so many extraneous factors which can effect the pulse (we haven’t touched such activities as hammering where only one arm is involved), and with so many other indicators available for review, I just can’t buy such trained observers ignoring everything but the pulse. Hey, I could be wrong. It HAS happened before. But after over five thousand years of learning, I just can’t see such a smart people acting so dumb.

    I’d better close before I step on even more toes. Real nice chatting with you, - and Rhoda too.
    Burt

    Comment


    • #17
      Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

      Burt-- You are right. German and Dutch descent, raised on the farm, and I agree with you-- the traditional doctor must have noticed more than just the pulse.

      In fact, I was taken aback by the statement that a really good traditional doctor only checks the pulse. The books I read said that the best doctors look at every aspect of the patient, everything they eat, everything they expell, the appearance of the skin... The lists in the old books get very long.

      Nevertheless, the old books devoted a tremendous amount of time describing various pulses and what they meant. The pulses were to be taken at various times of the day, at rest, after exertion, after intercourse... The old doctors were very thorough. Training took many years to develop the sensitivity to distinguish between all the variations.

      It is all described in terms of yin and yang, ch'i, the 5 elements, the hexagrams of the I Ching. Very hard to understand. I never decided for myself how much was just talk and how much was real.

      However, the doctors must have had some success, because they have been around for so long. I was intrigued by the way doctors were paid: aparently, doctors were on retainer. You paid your doctor so much a month. If you got sick, you withheld pay until he restored you to good health. Then you started paying again. I'd like to pay all my doctors that way. I bet it would solve a lot of healthcare problems. Marv

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

        Hi Marv,
        Thanks for the additional information about traditional Chinese medical care. I’ve heard of the payment concept they used. It’s not too unlike our long term disability insurance. You pay the premiums when you are well, and they pay you (to take care of yourself) when you’re sick or injured and can’t work. The HMO’s follow the same concept where the healthier you are the more profit they make from covering you – supposedly driving them toward preventive medicine. (Somehow ‘cheap’ medicine seems to sneak into the picture also.)

        Imagine the training required plus the time and effort spent with each patient in the classical Chinese treatment methodology. Is it any wonder that Western medicine took a different path? – and therein lies a key difference today. In the old days doctors around the world were quite limited with the tools available to fight disease, and there were many diseases around which have since been cured. (Didn’t Lincoln’s mother die of Milk Weed Sickness?) In those days I’m willing to concede that Eastern doctors probably were superior to Western doctors – as they had much more training and experience.

        As time progressed Eastern doctors tended to stick with their tried and true methods, while Western doctors cast around for additional tools to help them in their cause. They were then more open to new medicines and equipment. Necessity (being the mother of invention) and the profit motive subsequently stepped in and brought Western medicine to where it is today. There is still a lot to be learned from the Chinese treatments, but I’m still happy I have Western medicine available to me.

        Anyhow, that’s the way I see it. Real nice talking with you.
        Burt

        Comment


        • #19
          Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

          This is a difficult debate. Both systems have had tremendous success. I know it may be hard for a westerner to comprehend, but until the 19th century, China had the west beaten hands down. In China, the population was better educated, lived longer and better than anyone in the west. China fell behind in the 19th century for a combination of reasons. I only bring this up because it points to the success of Chinese traditional health system. The taking the pulse was only a part of that system.

          For those of us with a disease like HCM, this is very significant. Why is our disease so little recognised? It is not new. I venture to guess that the percentage of the population with HCM has not varied much for the last 2 or 3 thousand years, probably longer than that. Over the centuries, that adds up to many, many thousands of folks with HCM. You would think that someone would have noticed.

          In the west, health was so poor, I guess it is not surprising. There were so many ways to die, someone with chest pains, shortness of breath, palpitations, but still kicking, was in perfect health.

          I am not sure, but I suspect that health was better in China most of the time. China was more civilised from about 200 BC on. The chances that you would be killed in the latest local war was far less than in Europe. The probability that an HCM sufferer would live well and long enough to notice HCM was much higher. And there was a group of people who lived to keep people alive and well.

          So what is the sum of all this rambling? Simply, that traditional Chinese doctors may know a disease like HCM better than western doctors. Can they cure it? Unlikely. Can they do more than western drugs, pacemakers, and myectomies? Probably not. But can they tell us about living with HCM ? How to live to minimize the symptoms, how to exercise, what to eat, how to regulate our lives to be as comfortable as possible with this disease? Maybe. Just maybe.

          Rhoda-- Do you have any thoughts on this? How about your students? I would love to hear.
          Marv

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

            Hi, Marv,

            I have been planning to write here every day, but there is so much to tell, that it was easier to just place a few short messages in reply to others. I will try to get time tomorrow (it's 11:15 pm here and I just got finished putting the food away after feeding 15 hungry profs). My feet are badly swollen and it is just too late to write, but if you want a hint of what's to come, try eating elephant ear fungus at every meal. If you don't know what that is, take a trip to an Asian food store. More tomorrow or soon, if not then.

            Rhoda

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

              Marv,
              I don’t know why you call this a difficult debate. I agree with almost everything you posted. I do have some reservations about HCM in particular though. Oh, they probably had medications to try to deal with the symptoms, but not all that well, as the problem lies with a mal-formed heart, not a bug or an infection.

              In this particular situation I believe the West is currently much ahead of the East in medications, diagnostic tools, and procedures, such as myectomy, ablation, ICD’s, pacemakers and the like. That is not to say that we’re Cock of the Walk, as there is still a heck of a lot to be learned about this condition. (I tend to think ‘set of conditions’ since there are so many variations on the theme.)

              Rhoda, I’m really looking forward to your post. I was wondering where you had gone off to. Hope you’re feeling as well as we wish for you.
              Burt

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                I am not sure if we differ or not. Western diagnostics and treatments have been very effective within limits. Traditional Chinese medicine has nothing that approaches the efficacy of an appendectomy or a hip replacement.

                But I don't think western doctors have done very well with HCM. This is understandable. We are few and we are not sick enough. Most of us, including me, go from day to day with our heart working well enough to stay alive, but not well enough to convince a life insurance company to bet on us staying alive, and not well enough to make us feel OK. I don't know what I would give to be able to run upstairs.

                Still, if I were passing out the money to invest in medical research, I would invest to help the most and the sickest. I would give coronary disease tons of research money. People drop dead of heart attacks all the time. I would give breast cancer lots of money. I thank God that the list of diseases that are more deserving than HCM is very long. If we get the occasional side effect of other more important research, I am satisfied and count myself fortunate.

                But am I willing to give up there? No! I don't want to take research money from more deserving projects, but if there is another way that will help make it easier to carry my grandsons around, to keep me working for a few more years, I want to find it and use it.

                If I seem to be on a soapbox here, I apologize. Is's been a bad week for me, and I am ready for more help than beta and calcium channel blockers. I saw my cardio on Tuesday and he says I am doing well compared to his other HCM patients, and compared to most of the participants here I am doing great, but d--n, this week I can't seem to do anything without SOB and palpitations. I am normally quite active, riding my bike 20 miles to and from work and taking care of a large garden with my wife, so a bad week for me is nothing compared to most of the good folk here-- I rode my bike without much trouble, only had to take it a easier than normal. But I just could not bend over and hoe.

                There are no traditional Chinese doctors close to me in the US, but there are in Canada, and one of these days I am going to find one and see what he can do.

                I'll report back.
                Marv

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                  Hi Marv,
                  You sound like an intelligent, compassionate, understanding man, and I have enjoyed our little repartee very much. You sound like you’re in better shape then I am – I can no longer ride a bike, work or hoe, and I sometimes get SOB just yawning, but we all do what we can. We all have bad days, but then again we also have good days – it’s just the way the cookie crumbles. (Of course I can’t have cookies either.)

                  Let me know if you ever hook up with a Chinese doctor in Canada, and what develops. I guess now the stage is set for Rhoda to add her input. I can hardly wait.
                  Burt

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                    I am soooo sorry! I just wrote a LONG and detailed report of my trip to the Henan University of Traditional Chinese medicine. But when I pressed "preview" it said "Invalid Session"! So, I lost it all. I need to go to bed, so I will have to try this again in a day or two when I can get the time.

                    Rhoda

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                      Dear Rhoda,
                      I always type out my postings in Word first, then ‘copy’ it across to the entry. In the event something goes wrong I still have my work. (It also does wonders for my spelling and typing mistakes.) Try it – I think you’ll like it.

                      Hope you’re well, and we hear from you soon. I’m quite interested.
                      Burt

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                        Burt is right ---long posts need to be written in a text editor and then pasted into a post here. the web can't handle a post window being open for too long --i've been a moderator here and elsewhere and been parts of other boards and i've always found this to be true.

                        s

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                          Hi Sarah,
                          935 and counting. . . Looks like second across the line is beckoning.

                          You always post with comments for others, but tell me, how are you making out? Doing well I hope.
                          Burt

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                            Well, here goes again! I’ll try writing in Word, as Bert suggests. At the beginning of May all of China has a week’s vacation. One of my students invited me to go to the area where her parents live in Henan Province, which is the oldest part of China. We had a wonderful time and lots of royal treatment. There were some things I could not do, such as climbing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. My student’s boyfriend’s mother teaches at the Henan Province University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. So, the last day we were there, Saturday nearly two weeks ago, I spent the entire day being examined by Chinese doctors. There were many surprises. The most important one was that they only spent a little time holding my wrist and taking my pulse. Instead they did a chest x-ray, an ekg, and a Doppler echo! They made many comments, which I will try to summarize here:
                            1) They said they could not tell whether the problem was hereditary or not, but that I should take Chinese medicine, but not stop my western meds!
                            2) They do not like pacemakers, let alone ICD’s. They said that pacemakers do “a lot of harm”, but when I tried to find out what harm they thought they would do, they did not reply, but that may have been due to translation problems.
                            3) They think that Chinese medicine will help. In fact they think that by July I should not need a pacemaker! (I am VERY skeptical, but willing to give it a try. This coming Tuesday I am to get some herbs that I must boil daily two times every day and drink the liquid. In addition I am supposed to eat elephant ear fungus at every meal. I have not been eating it at every meal, but I have greatly increased my consumption. It is a pretty bland fungus, so as long as I cook it with something, it’s not bad.
                            4) Their echo showed the same degree of thickening as those in the US – 1.4 cm. It is low, but according to the technician in Dr. Gilligan’s office, that is deceptive because I have an abnormally small heart overall, so she said that the thickening was significantly large compared with my overall heart size. From looking at the numbers on the Chinese echo, it would seem to me that some areas are larger (parts of the ventricular wall), but some smaller.
                            5) Their reading of the ekg showed long QT syndrome. I recall that a few years ago a doctor in the US mentioned my QT length, but I had never received that diagnosis as far as I knew. Can HCM cause long QT?
                            6) They did not approve of the medicines that the Chinese doctor in Beijing had prescribed. Then, when I was telling another student here about my experience, he said that Chinese Traditional doctors never agree with each other.
                            7) They did not seem to pay a lot of attention to the test results.
                            8) The main heart doctor seemed aware of what not to do. I had told the student that I had to make sure that any meds I received would not stimulate my heart to beat. I specifically mentioned ephedra or mah huang. When the student mentioned this to the doctor, he looked startled and quickly responded that that would be the opposite of what I needed.

                            There were lots more things, but these are the ones that stick in my mind.

                            So, what did I think of all this? I was impressed with the price! The doctors donated their time because of the connections and maybe because they are hopeful that I will spread the good word about Chinese meds in the US. The ekg, color Doppler echo, and chest x-ray cost 250 yuen or about $30! So, I think that if anyone needs tests done, they should jump on a plane and come to China and take their results back with them to the US!

                            Do I “trust” Chinese medicine? No, but then, I don’t “trust” American medicine either. I use medicine in hopes that it will help. In this case, it seems foolish not to give Chinese medicine a try. So, here goes!

                            I have not done very well since I came back from the trip, so helping would be good. I had a lot of problem with fluid retention. Then about four days ago, it all came off and I lost about six pounds. But, now I am having more problems with chest pain. So, I’ll give it a try for Chinese meds in addition to the ones I already take.

                            Rhoda

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                              Rhoda-- Very interesting! I have been talking to my Chinese friends and they have offered to put me in contact with a good traditional Chinese doctor in Vancouver, Canada. I am in Seattle. There is a Chinese community here, but it is relatively small. My chinese friends are all very new immigrants (computer programmers) and they do not have a good opinion of the Seattle traditional doctors. There was an incorrectly diagnosed pregnancy recently that let down some future grandparents and great grandparents in China, and left my friends shaking their heads.!

                              I am surprised when I ask Chinese about Chinese and western medicine. Everyone I ask is willing to accept both traditions equally and use both. That seems to be your experience also. You Chinese have so much common sense!

                              Is elephant ear fungus the same as cloud ear?

                              Wishing you a good week, Marv

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: Chinese Traditional Medicine

                                Dear Rhoda,
                                What fascinating stuff. Oh how I wish I could experience some of the things you are seeing and doing. Some things struck me more then others. I knew that Chinese medicine would take full advantage of the latest ‘Western’ diagnostic equipment, but to find it in a University of Traditional Chinese Medicine seemed odd somehow. Then to say they did not like pacemakers and ICD’s flipped the coin back to more of what I would expect to hear, yet let’s face it, they do save lives. I have a friend I have lunch with once or twice a week who has a pacemaker, and would be a long time gone without it.

                                As far as your question about Long QT Syndrome and HCM, I believe LQTS could be a manifestation of HCM, but not necessarily its only cause. You can read about it at
                                http://www.qtsyndrome.ch/faq.html

                                I’m an old man now, and think I can be excused for saying things like, “Take care of yourself young lady. Come back safely and have your procedures performed.” (I like that aspect of Chinese culture too.)

                                Marv,
                                Cloud ear - it's a rather exotic sounding name for a type of fungus. Also known as black fungus, tree ears, and jelly mushroom, this dried black fungus has been featured in Chinese cooking since the sixth century A.D. The Chinese name for cloud ear is mo-er, or "little ear" - it does vaguely resemble a human ear when fresh.

                                Elephant Ear, also known as Taro, is a tuberous bulb plant with large showy variegated leaves that resemble an elephant’s ears. The Hawaiians and others use it to make poi.

                                By the way, I now think I know why your reasoning struck a familiar chord with me. You must be a computer programmer and/or analyst. That’s what I did as a profession. My next to last contract was for thirteen months, just north of Seattle. When I retired it was a toss-up between the Las Vegas area and the Seattle area. (Not exactly the same – climactically speaking.)

                                Thanks a lot. I’ve enjoyed ‘talking’ with both of you. ‘See’ you on the boards.
                                Burt

                                Comment

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