Dr Shi was born in China to a family that has practiced Chinese medicine for four generations. Through this interview, she enlightens us on important notions of Traditional Chinese Medicine and shares how you can benefit from it during the pandemic. You can find Dr Shi at BioMed MTC along with other Chinese medicine therapists.
- Why do you ask your patients to show their tongue?
The observation of the tongue is part of one of the four diagnostic methods of Chinese medicine (observation, questioning, palpation, hearing, and smell). The tongue reflects the patient’s condition over a fairly long period of time and is not subject to situational changes (such as a pulse that accelerates after walking, changes according to the seasons, etc.). You can find all the main organs represented on the tongue. On the morning of the first visit, the patient is asked not to brush his tongue, not to drink coffee, orange juice or coloring drinks. The goal of this maneuver is to define the exact color of the coating that covers the tongue. Yellow indicates the presence of internal heat or stagnation, on the other hand, cold and humidity can be seen when there is a lack of coating. Besides the color, I observe the thickness, its texture, the shape of the tongue, its cracks and marks, etc…Many things come into consideration when observing the tongue.
- During a global pandemic, what are the benefits of Chinese medicine & acupuncture in our healthcare routine?
During this period of a global pandemic, traditional Chinese medicine has shown its effectiveness. It has contributed greatly to the management of the crisis in China – a country which has virtually been without any cases for several months. Herbal intake, acupuncture, massage and gentle exercise are all geared towards the same goal of preventing rather than curing. Optimization of the immune system, but also the respiratory system is a topic of constant study in Chinese medicine. Herbs help reduce inflammation, keep energy and blood flowing, as well as alleviate symptoms. A Chinese medicine prescription is tailor-made, so for the same pathology, patients are treated differently. Remember that these treatments are often part of a complex medical landscape where patients are already on allopathic medication and that the practitioner deals with this situation on a case by case basis. According to Chinese medicine, the Covid virus creates a damp ground in the patient, the humidity inhibits the patient’s ability to activate his immune response. Plants help in the expulsion of pathogenic moisture through stools, sweat, and strengthens organs such as the spleen and stomach which have the ability to dispel moisture. Healthy energy then takes precedence over pathogenic energy.
- Your family has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine for 4 generations, was it an obvious choice to continue your family’s legacy?
Yes, you could say that, but in reality, I grew up in a family where everyone practiced Chinese medicine. As a child, I played in the pharmacy with dried plants, wildflowers and I would even make necklaces with Goji berries! As a family, we were always talking about medicine. We discussed patients, success stories, and failures as well as new techniques to apply. My grandfather, my uncles, my cousins, everyone was mainly concerned with Chinese medicine. It doesn’t matter whether they eat, walk or sleep, medical practice is the only topic of conversation. It might sound a bit intense, but when you grow up in this environment, you don’t really ask yourself what to do next. Today I practice Chinese medicine, my brothers, my cousins, all are in this field- apparently, my nephew, the son of my older brother, will be entering medical school next September… The family tradition continues.
- Do you think Chinese medicine will replace Western medicine one day?
I hope not – Western medicine is a treasure for health, it shows adaptation and constant progress. Western medicine is fully integrated into the medical landscape in China and coexists perfectly with Chinese medicine. A good practitioner knows how to guide his patient for his well-being and not for any other reason. In some cases, at certain stages of the pathology, Chinese medicine does a fantastic job for the health of the patient but another benefit of Chinese medicine is prevention. A person’s energy balance can always be optimized. Many patients complain of discomfort in life or in health which goes under the radar of Western medicine diagnostics. The Chinese medicine practitioner works to resolve all these discomforts and puts the patient on the path of a virtuous circle of health. To answer your question, I hope from the bottom of my heart that these two health approaches can work side by side, my basic training actually being a generalist in allopathic medicine in China.
- When can patients expect when coming to you for a Traditional Chinese medicine appointment?
More than what you came for! Usually, patients come with a complaint of pain, transit, or insomnia, but Chinese medicine is meant to be holistic. It does not separate the body from the mind. As the treatment progresses, the therapist will not only help to solve the original problem but will be able to pinpoint aspects that block this body/mind osmosis. Often, the patient has not identified these dysfunctions. By resolving these disorders, the patient will significantly increase his quality of life. Some of the annoyances that he considered ‘’character traits’’, ‘’natural’’ or ‘’anyway, that’s the life’’ will go away, and at any age. There you have it, the greatest happiness for a Chinese medicine therapist – taking the patient to a level of well-being he was unaware of.