Thursday, May 29, 2014

Traditional Chinese Medicine

While at China Medical University, it was only natural that we learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Our first exposure to this was during our tour of the Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine on the campus. This past year, I have been trying to simplify certain aspects in my life by switching to more natural beauty products. I have been trying to make a more conscious effort to use less chemicals and also be more friendly to the environment. Therefore, learning more about alternative approaches interested me. However, I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of some of the philosophies presented. (More on that in a bit.)

Our Friday (of last week) was full of new learning experiences. Our day began bright and early with orientation for clinical nutrition at CMU Hospital. There, we were greeted with a number of registered dietitians and some doctors and nurses who were employed at the CMU Hospital. Our students and professors exchanged questions with one another about the differences between the professions and health care system in each country. I think I may have mentioned this in another post, but I was surprised with how much more of a dietitian's services are covered by insurance in Taiwan. I certainly wouldn't mind that part of their healthcare system.

Group picture after our orientation
After meeting with the healthcare professionals, we were led on a tour of the hospital by one of the physicians. We walked through both Traditional Chinese Medicine specialties and Western medicine areas. Outside the rooms of practice, a number was listed on a screen, which indicated how many people had already been seen by that physician today. We talked to a physician who performed acupuncture later in the day and she told us that she usually saw about 10 patients an hour!! She must be sticking those needles in pretty quick!

 I didn't take many pictures within the hospital, because I thought it would look unprofessional and I am sure the many people sitting and waiting to be treated would not appreciate my camera out. However, once we were in the more secluded pharmacy area, I did snap a few photos. Since my brother is a pharmacist, I thought the process of filling Traditional Chinese Medicine prescriptions would be something that interested him. Just like with Western medicine, the traditional approach also involves the ordering and filling of prescriptions. The ingredients of each prescription lit up on the screen above the work counter of the pharmacists and they quickly went to work filling each.

A Pharmacist is working on filling one of her prescriptions
The Pharmacist is showing us some of the more popular and expensive prescriptions given

Much of the prescriptions are given in a liquid, soup form
that the Pharmacists prepare with the induction method of heating
Showing us the large variety of herbs, roots, etc. offered
This Pharmacist is preparing a prescription for a client. Each section is a day's worth of medication.
Can you imagine taking all of that each day? Most of it looked like the bark of a tree. Yum??
After touring the hospital, we also took part in a Tai Chi session with a professor originally from Germany. When I first saw Tai Chi boxing listed on the agenda, I was pretty excited. After little to no exercise for two weeks, my body was ready for some movement. However, I soon discovered that I had anticipated something much different than what we participated in. The lesson was more about finding your "chi" aka energy and less about throwing kicks. His practice promoted slow and controlled movements. While I enjoy exercises including yoga and pilates, I had a difficult time staying patient with such slow movements. I suppose that is part of why the instructor mentioned that it takes 10 years to become more advanced at the practice of Tai Chi. Perhaps it takes longer for a person to quiet their mind and fully immerse themselves in the practice. While it was an interesting cultural experience, I think I will stick to the exercises I currently know and love.

Here is a video that will give you an idea of what Tai Chi is like if you are a visual learner like myself.

Next on the agenda: A lecture entitled "Introduction of Chinese Medicine." The physician leading the lecture performs acupuncture at CMU Hospital. I was a little nervous about attending this lecture because: 1.) needles and myself do not mix 2.) needles have a history of making me pass evidenced by two separate blood drives where I wasn't even giving blood. (I guess it's a good thing I didn't go into the nursing field!) However, the physician began her lecture by giving an overview of the traditional philosophies. I will admit, I had a hard time fully appreciating much of what she was teaching us because it seemed like an awful lot of quackery and little scientific research. The philosophy of Chinese Medicine is comprised of: the Yin-Yang Theory, Eight Principles, Three Treasures, and Five Elements.

Even though the beginning of her presentation did not really catch my attention, it got much better as she began to demonstrate some of the methods she uses in practice, including: acupuncture, cupping, and scraping.
Jessica tried acupuncture on a pressure point on her hand
Morgan had the sliding cupping method performed
I tried the standard cupping method.
I had to sit like this for 10 minutes

It looks more painful than it was.
It only felt a little uncomfortable if I moved and it tugged on my skin a bit.
To put it bluntly, it basically forms a giant hickey on the point the cup was attached.
My back felt really good after I had this done, though I imagine it is quite painful
when performed all over the back at once.

While touring the hospital and learning about some of the Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques was quite interesting, I think there are certain aspects  that I wouldn't mind taking, but there is plenty that I would certainly leave. I don't think you will see me volunteering for acupuncture any time soon!

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