Monday, July 23, 2007
Investigating Chinese medicine at the source
I am on the road working on an upcoming documentary called Planet in Peril. A few weeks ago I was in Central Africa looking at the causes for the disappearance of Lake Chad. Now I am in Beijing, China.

My first stop was something that I had been looking forward to for some time: a Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic. Immediately upon entering, I saw two young gentlemen in short white coats carrying around what appeared to be dried snakes on small white pieces of paper. They quickly showed the "prescription" to the doctor and after getting her approval, they wrapped it up and handed it to the patient. "Was that dried snake?" I asked the doctor. She nodded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Her attitude was not surprising given that 95 percent of people in China use what is called TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are huge textbooks with descriptions of medications that vary from rhinoceros horn to turtle shells and yes, snakes. In the book are not only doses, usually around 15 - 30 grams, but also specific uses such as "thins the blood, acts as a tonic" or my favorite, "restores the yang."

Now, if you are imagining a rustic, rural place in a small Chinese village, think again. The TCM clinic we visited was right in the middle of Beijing, one of the largest cities in the world. Right outside the office doors were fancy electronics and boutique stores selling high-end goods, and there was a long waiting line of well-dressed people with ailments ranging from arthritis to nausea to the common cold. One woman who came in for persistent vomiting was given a seven-day prescription of herbs and dried animal parts, including four different kinds of roots, orange peel, a huge spool of bamboo, shaved bull horn and a touch of turtle shell. The final prescription took up nearly the entire counter with each daily dose the size of a small salad. She was told to pour the entire quantity into a pot of hot water and drink the liquid as a tea. Judging by her happy reaction, she was quite confident this would fix what ailed her.

I even decided to put it to the test myself. I described a raging headache that I was having, probably due to my long travel and numerous days with hardly any sleep. The doctor asked me a series of questions about the headache and my general medical condition and checked my pulse. She had a look at my tongue as well. While I was fully expecting some deer antler shaving or a dollop of dried plants and herbs, she simply smiled and said "go get some sleep."

It was a good diagnosis, but there was still something nagging at me. Many of the animals that provide the ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine are threatened, and some of the techniques used to get some of the animal substances are alarmingly brutal. For example, bear bile is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. To obtain this rare substance involves sedating a bear and then sticking a long needle straight into the bear's gallbladder and slowly filling up a glass jar with the green substance. It is not only dangerous and barbaric, but also life threatening for the bear. When I asked the doctor about this, she told me that TCM has recently evolved and no endangered species are used in making the medicine and brutal techniques have been stopped as well. She said the punishments are very severe if someone is caught doing it. When I pushed her on this particular issue, she conceded that there are probably places still offering some of these substances, but they were not available in her clinic.

One of the reasons I wanted to pursue this story is in part my own curiosity as a doctor, but also because medicine seems to transcend borders unlike anything else. In fact, many of the same "prescriptions" previously relegated only to China and the Far East, are now available at stores focusing on health and wellness in the United States. Ironically, one young woman told me the newest generation of Chinese citizens has started to shy away from TCM, opting instead for Western medicine such as aspirin for headaches and prepackaged cold medicine. There in fact may come a day when Traditional Chinese Medicine may be more popular outside China than inside the country where it has been popular for thousands of years.

So, would you try TCM to treat yourself or a loved one? Do you think in the United States that we have been too close minded to what Far Eastern medicine has to offer? Do you have any particular stories of your own experience with TCM?

For more behind-the scenes reports from our work on Planet in Peril, visit the "Anderson Cooper 360" blog
I have spent my working life in the clinical laboratory with side trips into surgical technology and direct patient care.

My grounding and belief in Western Medicine is strong and is based upon scientific application of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures by well educated physicians.

While I know the herbal origin of many medicines now in use in Western Medicine, I am also aware that many herbal preparations are ineffective at best and harmful in many cases. There is a lack of standardization in the commercial herbal medication market. The TCM market by its nature must suffer the same lack of standardization and purity of active ingredients in the herbals. As for animal parts, we can only conjecture what various bacteria, fungi, and parasites are contained in these materials.

TCM may have its successes in treating local pains by use of counter-irritants - pleasingly painful potions and poultices 101- and it may effect cures for some conditions that are situationa, stress related, etc, just as does faith healing and chiropractic. If one believes strongly enough in the treatment non-medical concerns may be alleviated.

But despite the anecdotal successes and cultural bias toward TCM that drive millions to trust it and its practioners, I have no desire to subject myself or my family to it.

Western medicine is based upon documented and proven science, repeatable results in diagnostic procedures, and continual review of procedures by peers. Traditional procedures are changed or even eliminated from practice as new and better procedures are developed and proven safe and effective.

TCM works best if you have faith in it. For me, it falls into the same general category of treatment as laying on of hands, subluxations, and witchcraft.
Hi Dr. Gupta!

I don't think that I'd try TCM. I think it's a nice big dose of a Placebo. You think it'll make you feel better and so it does! The power of the mind is greater than the body sometimes. I believe there may be valuable information that some of these things might impart to our scientists (maybe dried snake really does have something in it that would help to... restore my YIN as opposed to my YANG).

I once tried something that was "all natural" and it was basically a strange herb from some place. I had the great joy of experiencing hot flashes and night sweats at age 28. But, aren't many drugs derived from natural sources? The antipyretic agents contained in white willow bark led to the development of aspirin; maybe there is something in that dried snake- you never know.
What is true about Chinese medicine and other ancient medicines like Ayurveda is that they are all based on natural resources. But unfortunately these natural resources work very well if they are used on a daily basis or regular basis.

To give an example, in India Ladies apply Turmeric (they call it Haldi) all over the body, it prevents ladies from skin cancer and also helps them stop the hair growth. But they do this once a week or so, and it is effective. But if you think that you can use this in high concentration and use it once a while, it will not work.

Similarly people apply Sandalwood paste so that their body is cool and prevents you from skin diseases.

Unfortunately nowadays, people do not have time to live a regular life, they try to take shortcuts and then wonder as to why they have problems like headache, nausea etc. Like in your case, you had headache but that is due to unnatural event of long travel.

It is people though who want exotic medicines and therefore believe that cord liver oil, bear bile etc are more powerful than their equivalents which can be obtained easily.
Your column or blog stated that 95% of Chinese use TCM. That is most likely an error. First off Mao was not a big fan of TCM and banned most practices. The Communist Party in China also does not condone it's use. Please double check that figure as I believe it is closer to 30%. Oh and trust me Census taking in China is not a science so stating any statistics are dubious.
I had never tried TCM until back in 2001 when I moved from my home in the States to Amsterdam. I suffer from Behcet's Syndrome and have taken Thalidomide for my condition for some time. The one thing I learned when I was diagnosed is that Behcet's is much more common in along the Silk Road than in the States. So once I was in Europe for awhile, instead of trying to acquire another prescription of Thalidomide I decided to visit the TCM clinic in Amsterdam. I had three people helping me. One that spoke English and Dutch. Another that spoke Dutch and Mandarin. And finally the doctor that only spoke Mandarin. By then end of the appt. I went home with a combination of roots to make a tea. I specifically stated that I did not want anything that came from animals because I didn ot agree with the trade. They said there was no animal parts in my prescription even though I know there is no real way for me to tell.
Although the TCM tea tasted terrible, and I mean terrible, it did seem to work once I had taken it for some time. A syndrome is hard to treat in any case, but the TCM did seem help.
I must say though, on taste alone I switched back to Thalidomide once I returned to the States.

Thanks for this report.
Unfortunately some of these medicines that come from endangered animals do work. I'm Chinese born here in America so I have not tried any of the traditional Eastern medication but my mother did back in China. She had a horrendous cough at night that wouldn't go away so a neighbor bought some stuff (too gross to elaborate) and made soup out of it. After my mom drank it, her coughing subsided. Keep in mind it wasn't just a simple was the kind where you cough so much that it makes your stomach cramp. She's taken other things for other ailments growing up and they've all worked for her without any side effects. Would I try those methods myself? The answer is no...there are Chinese Herbal shops here that have some pretty disgusting stuff that works but I just can't get past the smell or the images. Maybe there's a way we can breed some of these animals for their parts like we do cows. Just a thought!
In regard to those comments, I can see that the TCM doesn't favor to many people. People said the western medication is based upon document & proven science, repeatble results in diagnostic procedures...etc. To me, western medication does cure the specific problem, but also bring along some side effects. All food/medication stated they were approved by FDA, but wait a minute, many medication/food were recalled after they had been selling in the market. Western medication is better? but which country has the highest obesity in the world? People over in Asia are living in much rougher enviornment, but their life expectacy are still higher than the western country, especially USA. A very high percentage of them are still using TCM. Also, higher smoking rate in China than the U.S. but how can these people still live longer than the people in the U.S. I guess that have explained and proven clearly to many open-minded people.
I've used aspects of TCM mixed with western and found it helpful. I miss my accupuncture treatments, they really helped my migraines in a way pills never could. Seeing how many western medicines are drawn from other sources (asprin = willow tree bark, digitalis = fox gloves, etc) something good can come out of it. Though I think the plants have more effect on a problem then powdered horn. Unless someone can locate a real unicorn.
Hi, Dr Gupta,
I am a Japanese woman. TCM has been prescribed even in a big general hospital of Japan if a patient hopes. I have never tried, but some of my friends told me that TCM improved their poor condition. I have heard that TCM being used in Japan is made up of mostly plants, but I don’t believe it. Last year I saw a dried (coiled) pit viper in a TCM shop of Tokyo just like a trendy boutique. I may take TCM if the ingredient is proved to be only from plants. After all, I don’t want to take animal parts as medicine however effective it is, so I think it is no surprise that western people feel uncomfortable to have TCM.
50 years ago, I developed itchy blisters on my fingers, finger tips and palms, so extreme I had bandages on all fingers and wore socks on my hands at night. My parent took me to an expensive dermatologist over months for long weekly shots, dry ice and ultr-violet treatments that had no effect. Finally in desperation, they took me to an old underground Chinese herbal doctor who had no medical licece to practice. His small one room office had one dest piled with Chinese books. He took my pulse, looked at my tongue and and asked a few questions. Then he said to come back tomorrow at which time he apllied a fragrant cool soothing yellow ointment that immediately felt so good on my inflamed hands. I took the small jar home and continued the applications and my hands immediatedly improved so that in a few days the itching stopped and the blisters disappeared.

As an adult, this condition has periodically returned and now I know it is Dysidrotic eczema and a few days of ingesting prednisone takes care of it.

But waht was that soothing topical yellow herbal ointment that was just a effective, less expensive and external? I'm certain pharmaceutical companies would like to knw also. There is some truth to Chinese herbal medicine.
I would definitely try TCM or alternative and complementary medicine. I do believe that certain naturally occurring substances can aid in the medical field. For instance instead of taking a western med for cholesterol you can take flax seed oil and red yeast rice and it lowers it significantly! I don't think we should be shut off to natural ideas because before there were pharmaceutical companies there were plants and herbs, which people have used for centuries!
This was really interesting.

I'm not opposed to TCM, except for the endangered animals put more at risk by the quest for ingredients. Many people are comfortable with other exotic medicines, such as acupuncture. Is it really that different?
I would not use TCM for the same reason I wouldn't use homeopathy, acupuncture, magnet therapy, chiropractic, naturopathic cures, or outright faith healers. The reason is of course that there isn't enough actual supporting evidence to warrant the use of any of these methods - merely unreliable anecdotes and the dreaded placebo effect. Promoting such "cures" is flagrantly irresponsible and may well lead people to avoid proven treatments for life-threatening ailments.

As to the assertion of 95% of Chinese using TCM, it should be noted that the 5% who use evidence-based medicine are the ones who can actually afford it.
I would use TCM. I think that all cultures have natural cures for a wide-range of ailments. I think that Western society is too much about profit-making. I did see a show about how Dr.s didn't even tell a family of a method that they know of to stop their 3-4 y.o. daughter's pain because it didn't involve any type of medication, but a high-fat diet.
I also think that there are not statistics because the patients just know that it works.
If a person takes enough antibiotic then the bacteria will be resistent to such medications and the patient can end up with a more serious disease.
My family is Chinese and Traditional Chinese medicine is what I was treated with when I had a cold. My father is a firm believer in Eastern medicine. I am about to finish up my last year of medical school in the US so I have been exposed to both. Yes, there maybe some efficacy in TCM but I need proof before I can believe it. What bothers me the most is that for serious illnesses these people who practice TCM will sell thousands of dollars in medication saying that it will help. My father has spent thousands of dollars because he was told by someone who practice TCM that certain herbs would kill cancer cells and help with my dad's colon cancer. These herbs have no proof that it is efficacious and now my father is in end stage colon cancer. When someone is ill and dying it is easy to believe in something whether it be religion or TCM. I think it should be illegal to actually tell my father that these medications can help kill cancer cells. I met a supposed well respected TCM doctor. This man kept on preaching to my father about how these herbs will help. He did have a degree from a traditional chinese medicine but I never saw a college degree. He gave me a card and it said "Dr". I personally think he is a fraud. Some will wonder why didn't I stop him. My father has nothing to lose at this point. If he believes this medication will work, then I'm gonna let him believe it. The mind is a powerful entity and I want to do anything to help my dad keep a positive attitude.
I've only used TCM a few times in my life (mostly flu and colds), but they've been very effective. With my parents and grandmother, having been born and raised in China, they would rather turn to TCM than Western medicine.

Yes, TCM is bitter, but it heals whatever that's ailing you pretty quick. Comparing TCM to Western medication, I've noticed the latter is more revolved around the "spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" idea, to ease the ickiness of taking the medication itself rather than having the medicine go straight to the illness/ailment itself.

Anecdotally speaking, I've never had much luck with "fruit-" or "bubblegum"-flavored cough syrup as a kid with a cold/flu, but TCM, no matter how nasty and bitter it semlled and tasted, was far more effective.
People might be interested in learning about the National Institutes of Health's "National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine"

It funds and reports on scientific, peer-reviewed research on complementary and alternative medicine, such as the things Dr. Gupta mentions, using the same standards as all NIH research.

This may be something CNN can report on, because I do not think many people are familiar with the Center even though it has been around since 1999.
I'm sorry, perhaps I am not understanding this, but some of you say that there has been no scientific evidence/history/repeatable results with TCM? How long has it been around in China? Oh, I would have to say a couple of thousand years at the very least! And I agree with the commenter who said that Asian people have MUCH higher life expectancy rates and better health overall, compared to this western/civilized world. How can that be if we have documented and proven science but they do not?

Getting off the sarcasm, I've taken TCM before and done acupuncture as well, and it does bring relief to my body when I had a rash that would not go away. I don't think it has much to do with placebo, as you can say the same with western medicine when they conduct trials with new medications (one group gets med A, one group gets med B which is a placebo). TCM treats the entire BODY, figures out what is causing the symptoms and treats that, while most western medicine treats on the symptoms (you have back pain? Take some tylenol/aspirin. You have a headache? Take some tylenol/aspirin. You have a cough/fever? Take some antibiotics). Of course with the case of antibiotics, many doctors prescribe that to patients, and that has resulted in a quite a few drug resistant strains of common bacteria=/.

Please just be more open minded to TCM, as well as any other type of natural/herbal remedy that has been around for MUCH longer than traditional western medicine. There is a reason why it has an effect for all those years.
Hi Dr.Gupta,
It was an interesting article.I am ready to try any medicine that cures me.I am an Indian
and i didnot practice yoga till i was diagnosed with diabetes.Now it help s me in managing it effectively.And i believe in all ancient medicine unless and until proven otherwise.
Good for you for checking it out for yourself. Many medical professionals in our country think that they have all the answers, but it is important that medical professionals begin to embrace "compimentary medicine" ane educate their patients. I have used TCM and a host of other comlimentary therapies, and have studied natural health and energy medicine. I know from my experience that it has enhanced my health. Now to speak of the sources of TCM medicines,let's remember that we still prescribe Primarin which comes from pregnant mares. Plant and animal sources were the first sources of "drugs" ever. This is not new information, but I believe somehow that there is a faction of the medical community that is afraid to talk with their patients about these things. I wonder why? By the way, although trained in complimentary medicine,I am studying to become an RN, because what is most important in health care is that the patient knows every alternative (whether allopathic or complimentary) for their own health care, so they can make an informed decision on their treatment.
Dear Dr. Gupta,

Your concerns about the use of animals in TCM are well founded. The use of bear bile in TCM is responsible for the worst form of long-term and acute cruelty inflicted on animals by humans – bear farming. In the case of bears, the practitioner you spoke with was simply wrong when she said that endangered species are not used, that brutal treatment has been stopped and that punishments are severe if people are caught doing it.

In China, bears are farmed in order to obtain their bile and turn it into products, ointments and medicines. The majority of bears on bear farms are Moon Bears, which are an endangered species. Conditions on bear farms are appalling and the bears live a life of suffering. In order to extract bile, bears undergo a painful procedure – often without sedation and by untrained workers – to insert a tube into their abdomens to drain bile from their gall bladders. This wound in the abdomen is permanent and bile is drained twice daily, without sedation. This happens for as long as the bears live – which can be for up to ten years. Bear farming and the use of bear bile is legal in China, and bear farms produce such large quantities that the Chinese market is awash with bear bile and bear bile products. This aggressive production and marketing has created demand that is affecting wild bear populations internationally. The bile from wild bears is viewed to be more potent than that of farmed bears, so wild bears are poached. In British Columbia two weeks ago three wild bears were found with their paws removed and gall bladders missing.

As TCM begins to gain popularity in the West (which it is), people must make themselves aware of the treatment options available to them. There are effective alternatives to bear bile – synthetic, herbal and therapeutic. TCM practitioners in the West have begun to shy away from using endangered species and animals in general.

While I can’t comment on the effectiveness of thousands of years of TCM practice, I can argue that using endangered species and causing suffering to animals is not necessary.
While the information in the blog is interesting, I was far more intrigued by the responses from the readers. Having been in some form of medical treatment for the past twenty years, I can say Western medicine does NOT have all the answers. My own experience, with acute injuries such as broken bones, concussions, and torn skin requiring stitches, found Western-style medication quite effective to treat injuries and prevent infections. However, for some of the side effects and crippling issues that go with chronic, long term illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and arthritis, Western medicine takes a back seat to some more "traditional" approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and homeopathic treatments. For example, when I broke my back, the initial treatments, including ex-rays, immobilization and ice (plus high-tech monitoring) are probably what kept me from becoming paralyzed. However, the arthritis in the bones and internal scar tissue on ripped muscles from the accident have not been helped by Western medicine, which typically take the "give-you-more-drugs" philosophy. Long-term comfort, reduced swelling and minimal damage I KNOW is helped by regular yoga practice, accupuncture and massage therapies (including Reikki). Even when I broke and tore my hand open in another accident (requiring a couple of dozen stiches), using a chickweed infusion wash, aloe salves, and arnica pills to promote healing allowed me to heal the three breaks and ripped skin in my hand, without a cast, in less than eight weeks (with no loss of mobility or further treatment).
Just a suggestion: use caution with any treatment-not every treatment works every time, but don't knock something just because it "sounds strange." Yesterday's folk medicine, in more occasions then you might think, can become tomorrow's cures.

PS BTW: Accupuncture has been proven effective in Western-style experiments, and is now covered by most major insurance carriers with appropriate referrals.
Although I was raised using Western Medicine, I have sometimes questioned it and have used alternative therapies (I developed a severe allergic reaction to penicillin after being given too many shots as a child). Recently I was introduced to Traditional Chinese Medicine through a product that is available in the US. I suffered for about two years with restless leg syndrome before discovering TCM. Now, I no longer use Western-style restless leg meds. I am always amazed by the statements made at the end of drug commercials about all of the problems a person can develop when taking them. Recently I read that some drugs prescribed for diabetes can cause heart problems as a side effect. It seems strange to me that Western people can be so dogmatic when there are other things out there that will also work or will work much better and without side effects. Isn't the goal to find a cure? Or is it enough to continue to treat an illness and put up with side effects?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or more inclusively Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM), including the ancient wisdom of Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and much of the Asian continent, has been in existence for more than 5,000 years. The general philosophy of TAM’s approach to health can be summed up in one word = Balance. More specifically, TAM seeks to balance “yin/yang” or “cold/hot” by combining complementary foods and herbs – thus the remedies that look like “a small salad” in Dr. Gupta’s description.

By keeping the body in balance, health is maintained and the body functions optimally – resulting in noticeable differences in mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. Some examples of “Yin” foods are Apple, Cantaloupe, Date, Lemons, Lychee/Litchee, Pear, Watermelon, and Yam. Some examples of Yang foods (Cinnamon, Meat, Garlic, Durian, Tangerine Peel, Mushrooms – Shiitake/Coriolus, Hawthorn berry, Longan, and Ginger.

Some of these foods/herbs can be combined to “restore heat” or “remove cold” in Eastern/Asian terminology. In Western “modern” terminology, we might call these same benefits a “mood boosting” or “anti-fatigue” effect and attribute the mechanism of their effects to changes in biochemistry and physiology (e.g. a change in levels of serotonin or cortisol, etc).

How can you practice TAM at home? You can take some simple steps to keep you body in balance – little things such as always eating a source of protein with any carbohydrate – trying to get 8 hours of sleep nightly – being sure you are fully hydrated by drinking enough water – getting some physical activity everyday, etc. Little things that keep your metabolism going – and what TAM specialists might call “maintaining the flow of the Qi – or life force.” Unfortunately, we can’t always do all these “right things” that we know we should, and we become “unbalanced” (yin/yang) by our daily stressors (deadlines, traffic, bills, sleep loss, relationships, etc) – so the next step may be to try a pre-blended “balance formula.”

My company, SupplementWatch ( studies numerous natural remedies, including a recent study on a particular TAM formula called Goyin (20 herbs/fruits). We fed 3 ounces of the juice blend to stressed out subjects for 2-4 weeks and found significant improvements in mood, energy, depression, and mental/physical performance (what we call “vigor” and what TAM specialists would call “Qi” – the body’s life force). This research was presented at an international nutrition conference just last month in Las Vegas – and it is an important finding that people can use ancient all-natural approaches to fight back against the stress and depression and fatigue that many of us live with everyday because of our “unbalanced” modern lifestyles.

Shawn Talbott, PhD
Research Director, SupplementWatch
I've had acupuncture done by a Chinese doc trained in China here in the US. One problem was something that no doctor could find a cause to and said I was fine but it was painful. After a few appointments it lessoned and never came back. He said it had to do with a nerve. Also, it helped my asthma and my daughter is having acupuncture to help her inflamed tonsils go down and its been gradual, but is working. I've only received one Chinese herbal product and I was told it was plant based. It did help.
I have had tremendous success using some common TCM herbs/roots like astragalus (immune system boosting) and ginseng (general tonic, mood enhancer) and recommend that people try them before disparaging them.

Here's an interesting article on how the freedom to practice the art of medicine without pharmaceuticals is also under attack in China.
I did an article on TCM once. The problem is that there are a few different texts that TCM practioners might be working from. At one time there was a craze for alchemy-- immortality-- and the alchemists would create compounds with cinnabar (which is mercury) and other toxic substances. They quickly killed them off but the nondecaying corpses were supposed to mean they were on the right track. They killed off an Emperor with their immortality potions.

A later TCM practioner wrote a comprehensive text and lambasted such practices, rightfully so. His text is rather good.

However to this day there are TCM medicines produced with cinnabar and other "alchemical" rather than medical purposes.

So you might have lucked out in not being prescribed anything but sleep.

Some TCM remedies are now under study, and many herbs do hold promise.

I think there is considerable wealth in TCM, but the problem is there is also bad in with the good and unless you can double-blind and use evidence, proceed with caution when buying any TCM remedies or what your practioner prescribes.

Errors in translation have caused deaths outside China, and it does make it harder for Western countries to test TCM remedies according to the preparation and usage dictated.

I'm interested in the fact that autoimmune diseases were recognized in TCM and considered to be particularly difficult to treat.

Generally, I'd probably stick only with the remedies that are known for sure to have no cinnabar, no potentially lethal herbs, etc. First do no harm to yourself.
Skeptics of Chinese medicine imply that a zillion Chinese people have been frivolously wasting their money on placebos for 4,000 years.

How many skeptics would be so dismissive of this medicine had it evolved in Germany?
How many skeptics would be so dismissive of this medicine had it evolved in Germany?

--That is already verifiably the case. Most German (and other European) traditional medicine was replaced by modern medicine.

Pratices such as bloodletting were abandoned completely. There are other European practices such as homeopathy that still remain on the finges.

If some people want to cling to Asian medicine, fine. However, they should not cause the extinction of species to fulfill their superstitions.
i have just returned from chengdu, sichuan province in china. been plagued by this 'guilt' feeling conned by the chinese/tibetian medicine men. i would like to share this worrisome experience of having our blood extracted by some hexa-combustion method and using some electro-static methods to instil some 'sparks' into our bodies. Of course at our age, mentioning blood pressure, cholesterol, weak knees and back aches etc are common ailments. And yet we got carried away and part with our money. Now we have cartons of the medicine at home, staring at us...but we just cannot bring ourselves to consume them. Dr Gupta, PLEASE give us some of your comments...thank you....Mrs Stupid.
I am practicing Traditional Chinese medicine for more than 30 years and I can tell you it is very useful.
TCM is very balanced system unlikely to cause side effects because of complexity of plant materials each of those undergo a mutual synergy for higher effictiveness.
TCM treats not only the symptoms but corrects the whole body imbalances. There have been many clinical studies showing TCM can successfully treat asthma and coughs, arthritis and rheumatism, hypertension and hemorroids; it can be effective for different cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases.
All you need is to find an experienced TCM doctor who is able to give qualified advices and prescriptions.
Thank you
Doctor Liem Boen Boe
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