I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a little skeptical about Chinese medicine. In Hong Kong I saw a lot of locals regularly drinking those terrible smelling herbal drinks and queuing outside the door to see a doctor who could tell you what was wrong by simply touching your wrist. I remember my boss used to tell me that it was bad for a woman to drink cold drinks and eat too much pineapple and a bunch of other things that to me seemed relatively farfetched, but there I was today visiting the Chinese doctor for the first time, finally deciding to see why people in this part of the world dedicate so much time to it.
I love living in Asia, but for whatever reason I seem to get sick a lot more often here. Whether it’s the climate, the fact that I spend 90% of my time with kids or it’s just not as easy for me to consistently eat healthy (we’ll blame the kids, shall we?), I seem to end up getting pretty badly ill once a month or so. Doing anything when you’re feeling rundown is hard, but trying to control a class of 20 kids with no voice poses a challenge like no other.
I really dislike going to the doctor, and I hate the fact that here in Asia going to the doctor means getting four or five different pills for something as simple as the common cold. I should be grateful that Taiwan has such an amazing healthcare system since so many countries in the world don’t have the privilege of paying £3 for a consultation and some medicine – and I am – but given that I am getting sick so often, the thought of putting so much medicine inside me on a regular basis makes me worry that in the long term, that won’t be so good for me either.
Chinese medicine combines modern medicine with practices that are thousands of years old. I’m not too sure about the complexities of it, and it is very complex, but it basically comes down to what the Chinese call your ‘qi’ – and if this is off balance then you will fall ill. Chinese medicine takes into account your whole experiences, so not just your outward symptoms but your inner ones as well. It combines herbal medicine with practices like tai chi, massage, acupuncture and exercise in order to restore balance and thus make you feel better.
So there I was today, having my pulse read by a very clever lady, who then stuck needles into my wrists and legs to make me feel better, who then gave me a really horrible tasting herbal powder to take for the next five days – so we will see how it turns out I guess. Maybe I’ll be joining the long queues in the morning to get my daily dose of horrible tasting powder.