Twenty years ago when I lived in London, England I had my first experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine. I stumbled upon a Chinese mdicine doctor who was from Peking but practicing in London. I think I saw an ad in Time Out, a London magazine that keeps residents informed of the weekly events and happenings, but I honestly can’t remember how I found this particular doctor. I just remember taking the tube to Leicester Square and following my A to Z map to the clinic address. There were no smart phones with map apps in 1993. I certainly didn’t do a Google search beforehand. I was just intrigued and curious and somehow found my way to a Chinese medicine doctor.
He was the best doctor I ever had!
I don’t remember his name. He didn’t speak much English either, there was always an interpreter available for us to communicate, but he was so skilled at assessing my pulse and looking at my tongue (two primary ways Chinese medicine doctors make their diagnosis) that we really didn’t need to talk to each other.
The first floor of his office was a large pharmacy with all types of herbs in glass jars. I would sit in a chair in the pharmacy and when the interpreter called my name she escorted me upstairs to his office. One cold winter afternoon I stumbled into his office with a fever and probably bronchitis – if it wasn’t bronchitis it was headed that way fast. I felt awful. He looked at my tongue, assessed my pulses and dictated a prescription in Chinese that the interpreter handed to me and sent me back down to his pharmacy to fill. The pharmacist measured out various roots, bark, mushrooms and herbs per my doctor’s prescription and rolled them up in butcher paper for me to take home to my Earl’s Court flat.
I boiled this concoction and strained it and then re-boiled it per his directions before drinking. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever ingested in my life. It looked like sludgy cement and it took me 30 minutes to get down. I realize most people would a.) not take the time to prep this authentic herbal concoction called “tea” and b.) they would not drink something so gross. But for some reason I completely and totally trusted him and never questioned him or this remedy.
12 hours later I was back to normal. It was like I was never sick. My fever was gone. My raspy, phlegmy bronchial cough was eliminated.
My Irish flatmate shook her head in disbelief as I boiled the herbs for two hours and then she couldn’t believe the transformation I literally made over night from sick back to healthy again.
Since I’ve returned to the U.S. I’ve sought out authentic Chinese medicine doctors when I can find them.
I’m pretty sure I had the Enterovirus D68 that is currently overtaking Colorado and other states. The media focus has been on kids with asthma and while I don’t fall into either one of those categories I think I still had the nasty virus. I did all my go-to things: Olive leaf, elderberry, high dose Vitamin D, steam room, etc. but after five days it was still hanging on. In almost deja vu fashion to London 20 years ago I stumbled into my current Chinese medicine doctor’s office on Tuesday morning. I already had this appointment scheduled as she’s been helping rebalance my hormones the past couple months.
She said, “How are you?”
I said, “I’m sick!”
She said, “For how long?”
I said, “Five days.”
And then she just looked at me.
She had no more words for me, but her look and silence said it all, which was, “You mean to tell me you’ve been sick for five days and you didn’t come in to see me?”
That’s a really good point. It honestly didn’t cross my mind. In my defense, I had a fever and I felt delirious, but still. It’s weird that I didn’t think to bump up my appointment because I know how well I respond to Chinese medicine. Plus, as mentioned above, I still have great memories and miss my Chinese doctor from 20 years ago. She asked me to stick out my tongue so she could assess it while taking my pulses. She declared, “Oooh, you are sick! Let’s get to work.”
My doctor promptly placed acupuncture needles in me from head to toe. After 40 minutes, she returned to check on me and my wet cough and congested sinuses had cleared by almost 60%. She sent me home with herbs – much easier to prepare than the herbs I got in London 20 years ago. Today I just boil water and add the pre-assembled powdered mix. Plus it tastes much better.
Within two hours of my appointment, I felt better than I had all week. As I write this I’m 18 hours outside of that appointment. I have had 5 cups of her medicinal herbal tea. I feel 95% back to normal and my symptoms are gone. Needles and herbs are not for everyone, but I have found over and over again that they are a powerful medicine and a remedy that work well for me.
If you haven’t tried Chinese medicine (from a true Chinese medicine doctor) you might want to consider seeking one out during this year’s cold and flu season. Just do a quick Google search in your area and begin researching your traditional Chinese medicine options. If I found a Chinese medicine doctor 20 years ago in another country with no Internet, you can definitely find one today!