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Tao of Traditional Chinese Medicine – II

by Yau-Man Chan, Nov 09 2008

Rewind the tape 50 years – I awoke one morning with a bit of extra sleep on my eyes and complained to my mom about canker sore in my mouth. That afternoon when I came home from school, a tall glass of cooling barley water awaits me to offset the extra heat due to too much activity in my liver. In the folklore of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our bodies can be too heaty, or too cool, or damp or dry. Our bodies can also, according to that tradition have a combination of these undesirable conditions such as dry heat or damp heat which must be treated accordingly.  By Western (and modern) standard of behavior, as an eight-year old kid with a ten-year old brother, it would not be considered the least bit unhealthy to engage in some sibling rivalry scuffles and quarrels. But whenever we bickered or had some spat in front of older relatives we could count on them to admonish my mother to brew us some chrysanthemum tea (and make it extra sweet!) Childish verbal or physical jousting between us brothers must be due to overly vinegary or acidic disposition and can be neutralized by sweet chrysanthemum tea. Arthritis is damp wind in the joints so the cure is to take herbs that will remove the wind and dry up the joints. For every condition, physical or mental where external manifestations can be observed, there are corresponding herbs, animal parts/by-products or even toxic minerals to help neutralize and restore harmony to the body. This is TCM in its most rudimentary form and is still practiced today. (continue reading…)

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The Tao of Chinese Medicine – I

by Yau-Man Chan, Nov 02 2008

I am not a medical doctor and I don’t even play one on TV!  So how am I qualified to write about Chinese medicine?  Well because I grew up with it! Is that really good enough?  Yes, and every Chinese who grew up in a Chinese household in a Chinese community are inculcated with knowledge about Chinese medicine and how it works.  Like any other Chinese kid growing up, when I was sick my mother could quickly diagnose my illness and if she couldn’t, she could turn to her mother or aunts or other higher authority figures. In more severe cases, there’s always the guy selling herbs. (continue reading…)

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Skepticism — A Cultural Perspective

by Yau-Man Chan, Oct 24 2008

If you have been around any science and engineering departments of any of the well-regarded universities and research institutions in the U.S., you will find that Chinese as an ethnic group are very well represented among the faculty and research staff. Yet, anyone with even the most superficial interaction with the Chinese community will come away with the observation that despite prominence in the science and engineering fields, theirs is still a community infatuated with superstition, and perhaps even delight in celebrating pseudoscience as part of their cultural identity. (continue reading…)

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