Thursday, May 31, 2007

Inside the chinese medicine minefield

Chinese medicine clinics are popping up on every High Street. Many are reputable - but others are totally unlicensed, give bizarre diagnoses for potentially serious illnesses and charge a fortune for dubious cocktails of herbs.
The doctor checks my pulse and inspects my tongue. Then, the clinic's receptionist, who is squeezed into one corner of the windowless room of the Health Oriental Medicine Centre and acting as translator, gives Dr Jaing’s diagnosis.
The increasingly severe, agonising headaches, nausea, and dizziness I have been suffering from for the past three weeks have, she says, been caused by "wind" that has entered my brain.
"How did wind get into my brain?" I ask.
"Natural wind from outside blows in and gets trapped, causing problems," translates the receptionist, waving her fingers mystically in front of her face.
The doctor nods. Perhaps sensing my confusion, she adds that I shouldn't worry, it is "not serious problem".
I can be cured with six sessions of acupuncture, one a week, costing £150, a week’s supply of herbal tablets, costing £20, and a specially concocted tea to be drunk twice a day, for £35.
"If you have all together, is most powerful effect.
"Just one alone, less powerful. If you start treatment immediately we can cure you for ever," promises the receptionist.
Explaining that I need to think carefully, I leave the West London clinic. In reality, I'm in need of no treatment, medical or otherwise.
Clinics such as this one, offering traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) - a combination of herbal remedies and acupuncture - have mushroomed on High Streets across the UK since their emergence in the late Eighties.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, more than one in ten of us have used Chinese medicine at some point.
The number of individual practitioners has increased from around 200 in 1988 to more than 3,000 today — a figure based on membership of the three main TCM self-governing bodies: the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the British Acupuncture Council.
All three demand their practitioners are trained to degree level in TCM.

Source - Daily Mail

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