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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Experiencing True Integrative Medicine in China

My apologies to my handful of readers.  I have not been able to blog with any regularity the past month or so.  At any rate, I would now like to share an experience I went through last week while on my annual sojourn to China.

So last week, I am eating out with friends when one of the children with us fell and hit her head on a ledge.  She sustained a cut just above her eyebrow.  Being the only physician present my first instinct of course was the stop the bleeding and clean the wound.  That being done, I realized that we needed to consult a nearby hospital emergency room.  I would have preferred a surgeon to take a look at the laceration to assess also if stitches were needed.

The nearest hospital from the restaurant was what we would call a western medicine hospital.  There are two kinds of hospitals in China.  There are the predominantly western ones, like all those cancer centers being advertised here in the Philippines, and the predominantly Chinese medicine ones, like the ones where I trained.

Note that I said “predominantly”.

That’s because both modalities are used, but it’s just a question of what is used more.  For example, a western hospital would have a department of tcm and that’s it.  A Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital would have a whole bunch of sub-specialties under herbal medicine.  Conversely, it might have a general surgeon department on staff.

Going back to my experience, the surgeon at the emergency room took a look, re-cleaned the wound, and determined that prophylaxis against tetanus was not needed.  However, the patient being a ten year old girl, we were all concerned about scarring on the face.  Prudently, the surgeon referred the girl to the resident dermatologist.

When the dermatologist took a look at the young lady, he prescribed some creams and ointments both to promote healing and minimize scarring.  I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that a CHINESE HERBAL ointment was prescribed!

Chinese herbal medicine prescribed in a western medicine hospital

Chinese herbal medicine prescribed in a western medicine hospital

I was only able to get a quick shot at the package, and so I apologize for the poor lighting.  The point is that this is the dream for me: where chinese herbal medicines can be used side by side with conventional medicine.

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