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Chinese Medicine

Before leaving Xiamen and wrapping up the “8-day Fujian Wonderful Tour,” one of the last things our tour group did together was visit a Chinese Medicine clinic. Two years ago I got to do this with another tour group in Shanghai so I sort of knew what to expect. This experience turned out to be different, however. Well, slightly different.

For example, some people in our tour group were MIA. “Where’s dad?” I asked my mom after sitting down in a conference room with a glass of mushroom-derived tea in my hand that definitely tasted medicinal.

“He saw that another couple was staying in the bus, and then he decided to do so too,” my mom said.

Perhaps he—a Canadian- and American-trained retired physician—was not interested in hearing attending yet another presentation about Chinese Medicine by snake oil salespeople. At least in this sales pitch the Chinese doctors were not insulting western medicine.

“Western medicine is great for quick fixes,” one of them explained. In contrast, “Chinese medicine takes more time to work and is more for maintenance.” This actually sounded pretty reasonable.

So did a diagnosis on me by another white-coat-wearing person who, supposedly, can instantly tell what is wrong with you by looking at the lines on your palms. “There is nothing wrong with you,” the man told me (as translated by my mom). Actually, this was a bit of a surprise considering the plethora of problems the last Chinese doctor who diagnosed me said I had.

But my mom later suggested, “He didn’t want to waste time on you because you couldn’t understand what he was saying. So he said there was nothing wrong. He didn’t even look at your hands!” Darn.

My mom, on the other hand, was more fortunate. Or rather, unfortunate. According to the doctor, she has low blood pressure because she “doesn’t have enough blood.” They had a fix for this, of course: the foul-tasting mushroom tea. My mom could buy a small package to make such tea for US$30 or so. My mom politely declined and we went back into the conference room.

This is when yet another medicine shop employee approached us and tried hawking more of the product. She said that my mom’s complexion could be better.

“That’s because I’m not wearing make-up,” my mom replied.

The doctor also pointed out my mom’s grey hairs.

“That’s because I’m old!” protested my mom. But the same medicinal tea could help with both issues…

Meanwhile, back on the bus, my dad was taking a nap. That actually seemed like a really good idea. Sleep can solve a whole host of issues, and he did not even need a palm reading to figure that out.

A Chinese doctor telking about various Chinese medicines.
A Chinese medicinal tea derived from mushrooms.
Some sort of Chinese herb that the Chinese medicine shopped claimed would help maintain health, smooth skin and reduce grey hairs.