Brother and sister, John and Tina Chen, of Evergreen Herbs and Lotus Institute continue to be at the cutting edge of educating this country’s Chinese medicine practitioners. Recently they have introduced us to a couple of the most successful of Taiwan’s traditional doctors—doctors routinely and successfully treating advanced illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, with a few relatively uncommon substances, yes, but more surprisingly, by sticking to the classical basics with astute diagnosis and well known Chinese formulations, not to mention dietary and lifestyle guidance.
This comes at a propitious time, given China’s experience this flu season. Viruses, being the promiscuous entities they are, like to get together, evolve, and change—not as in glacial natural evolution, but as in overnight Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Given appropriate conditions, they can easily transform into something far more contagious and deadly than this year’s current manifestation of the coronavirus. Yes, it’s causing medical, economic, and social pandemonium in China, and it’s slowly spreading worldwide, and some people are dying. But its spread is nothing like the relatively benign, but highly contagious swine flu (H3N2) which covered the globe in two short months of 2009. Nor is its severity anything like the lethal Spanish Flu (H1N1) in 1918, which may have infected as many as 500 million and killed an estimated 40-100 million. That wide discrepancy in estimates is largely the result of national tight lips, especially in wartime.
Still, from the perspective of a doctor of Oriental medicine, the situation deserves our attention because:
- The world is now seriously overpopulated.
- Immunity—in this country, and anyone following in our footsteps—is in an abysmally weakened state, regardless of age, sex, race, education, or even economic status.
- The above two facts host a hotbed of opportunity for genetically opportunistic viruses. A virus’ life mission is self-perpetuation, which it accomplishes through finding hosts in which to proliferate and spread—the more the merrier.
- Global travel, which has become a norm, enhances conditions for pandemics.
- And lastly, but perhaps most important, conventional Western medicine, which—like a virus—has dominated the world’s medical systems, is ill-equipped to treat pandemics.
Whether or not the current coronavirus may yet cause a significant threat in the United States is an unknown, for now. Nonetheless, what any intelligent health care professional practicing a functional form of medicine must know is that it’s only a matter of time before we see something that does represent a life-threatening manifestation on a massive scale. What we’re now seeing could be most appropriately perceived as a warning—a warning that our healthcare in the West is wanting, and that our health in general is much weaker than we recognize.
And that’s why, today, John Chen, Pharm.D., PhD., OMD, LAc, shared with us an overview of what’s happening in China and a most enlightening review of the Chinese classics, in relation to treating colds and flu. Developed from millennia of experience with war, famine, epidemics, and pandemics, those early classics produced medical concepts and herbal formulas to address the challenges of their day, and those same concepts, principles, and herbal decoctions still represent the most effective response available for dealing with a real, live pandemic. That they are still the rock solid foundation of treating these kinds of conditions, reflects the brilliance of the ancient physicians who conceived them, notably beginning with Zhāng Zhòng-Jĭng, 150-219 CE.
The study of the Chinese pharmacopeia begins with Wind invasions—the common cold and flu. So one tends to think, oh, I know that! Of course. And those substances, combined with that knowledge, work beautifully with garden variety colds and flu—especially if we employ a doctor of Oriental medicine to monitor our condition.
But as Sue and I expected, and in keeping with the trends of what’s being taught in Chinese medicine today—at least as provided by the Chen family—John’s overview was immensely rewarding. One senses that the Chens’ mission is to elevate Western practice of Chinese medicine to an entirely new dimension. For decades now, Doctors of Oriental Medicine in the state of New Mexico, have been defined, by statute, as “primary care physicians”. The vast majority practicing under that license, however, have been reluctant to assume that responsibility. I think John and Tina Chen may envision a time when we step up to the plate.
Sorry, I drifted into politics, um, intentionally.
At the end of his online presentation, we were caught by a slide on his Power Point that John had not mentioned: “With Wuhan on Lockdown for More Than 10 days, the Chinese Government Announces a Major Change in Strategy: All Patients with Confirmed Infections to take Chinese medicine.” (2/10/2020, emphasis mine)
China, like any major industrial nation, has bought into the flashy allure of Western medicine and Big Pharma. Many hospitals there have departments of China’s traditional medicine, and some hospitals are entirely devoted to it. But even there, sharp divisions exist between the two, and when something like the coronavirus becomes an issue, Western medicine elbows its way at least into front page news. To see that traditional Chinese medicine is being mandated, at an official level, as part of coronavirus treatment is a breathtaking switch—even in China.
That news alone was worth our time. Amazingly, though, in fifteen or twenty minutes, John also brought my level of comprehension regarding the treatment of cold-induced disorders and warm, epidemic infections to such a smoothness without rough edges, and orderliness previously unknown to Sue or to me, that long unspoken questions no longer remained. Nothing earth-shaking, just presented in such a concise, no-nonsense, no question, and orderly fashion. Heartwarming and rejuvenating.
And, yes, there was some new information.
And even more inspiration.
We’re currently being gifted with this warning. Focusing on the now, what are some choices for us, as individuals, to increase our chances of surviving such an event relatively unscathed—not to mention enjoying a higher level of overall health? After all, it’s not really the responsibility of our ‘health care system’ to ‘save us’, is it? It’s our own.
It all begins with the guy/gal in the mirror, doesn’t it?
And therein lies prevention.
We’re just getting started. In Part II, we’ll take a look at intelligent choices available to us.
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