Traditional cures alive and well

Aileen McCabe, CanWest News Service

Published: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SHANGHAI – When the Chinese have a medical complaint, only about 30 per cent of them go to their traditional healers for help.

It is usually for a chronic problem like asthma, too, not an emergency.

If they break a leg, the Chinese are more likely than not to visit a western-trained doctor.

Still, calling traditional Chinese medicine — or TCM — “alternative,” as is often done in the West, would be nonsense when you consider that more than 330 million people here rely on it to cure what ails them.

You see hundreds of them in the crowded wards at Yue Yang Hospital in Shanghai. One is stretched out on a bed, his lower back pierced with super-fine needles. Another sits astride a chair as a doctor slowly rubs his neck. Still another is walking around with an array of small bell jars securely stuck to his back by suction.

It is a strange scene for anyone familiar with hospitals in Canada. Strange, too, are the number of foreigners you see making hospital rounds.

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