TCM vs. Western Medicine

This entry is not intended to compare Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) vs. Western medicine on a professional basis. A couple of years studying Biology in Secondary School doesn’t make one a doctor!

It is however, a record of a recent incident at the Lee Family that involves both TCM and Western medication.

The Little One and I succumbed to the cold bug recently during the Chinese New Year. The Little One was immediately brought to the Western doctor after she developed a high fever and was coughing incessantly, coupled with difficulty in sleeping as her airway was blocked. She was given no less than FIVE different medication – yup, you heard me right, five.

Med 1 – For Fever

Med 2 – For Cough

Med 3 – For Running / Blocked Nose

Med 4 – For Opening up of Airway

Med 5 – Antibiotic

It pains us as parents to subject our 2.5 year old to so many medications, 3 times a day. Now that the course of medication is complete, the fever is gone but she still has some cough and phlegm.

When it came to my turn to being sick, I was totally unprepared. The throat was BURNING all of a sudden that morning I woke up, and I also developed a fever and running nose. My fever went up to 38.3 degrees celsius when I visited the same clinic the Little One was brought to. I was given the usual meds for cough, running nose, sore throat and lozenges. For my fever, I was told to take Panadol, which I did for days.

But my fever never subsided and seeing that my meds were running out, I was frustrated, as I still suffered from throat pains, cough and running nose.

I remember that one of my BGO friends Yvonne Chua recommended to me before a TCM clinic at Park Mall. On the day that my Western medication ran out (Wed), I paid the TCM clinic a visit. I was initially told that the next available appointment date would be next Monday. I couldn’t hide my disappointment and the nice receptionist re-checked the schedule and managed to give me a slot that very day.

The TCM doctor told me after examination, that I am suffering from Outer Cold, Inner Heat (外寒内热), which explains why I felt cold but my body was feverish.

“Western medication cannot do much to help in your case.”  Oh, how many times have I heard a TCM doctor said that to me. 😉

So I was given 5 day’s worth of medication, to be taken 3 times a day. Ground into powder and packed into sachets (ah… the conveniences of modern TCM), one just needs to dissolve one sachet of powder in lukewarm water and take it, 3 times a day. Needless to say, the taste was horrible.

After my first pack of TCM, I went to sleep but woke up to a yelling baby (the Little One was at it again!). After reprimanding her, I took my temperature and was disappointed to see that my fever had actually went up to 39.2 degrees celsius. The one good thing though, was that I was able to cough out more phlegm than before (thick yellowish gooey thingy!) and my throat actually felt better and I was slowly finding my voice back.

I had to do something about my fever and and so I tried the two methods:

1. Paste a cooling patch on my head for about 10 minutes.

This actually brought my fever down just a little to about 39 degrees celsius.

2. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part rice wine, and sponge myself with the mixture.

This method made me felt better and my temperature was further brought down to about 38.8 degrees celsius. The rationale behind this method is that the alcohol would evaporate and take away heat from the body.

To cut the long story short, I am recovering, slowly but surely. Actually, the recovery is quicker than I expected.

After the 3rd sachet (ie. Day 1), my temperature went back to normal. At the end of Day 2, I felt stronger physically and started doing some work. At the end of the 1st course (5 days), I went for a follow-up examination for a different medication. According to the TCM doctor, the first course of medication is to “bring down the mucus”, while the second course is to “flush them out from the body”. I think we can expect some laxatives in the second course, alright.

Now that I am on the second course of medication, I certainly feel better. The cough does sound much less severe, though I still have some sniffing.

If you have had the patience to read this entry till here, my point is this: This is not the first time that TCM has done wonders for me when Western medication had failed. If you have not tried TCM before, and is suffering from some nagging ailments, ask around for a good TCM doctor recommendation and get yourself treated.

Haven’t you heard, even the animals in the Singapore Zoo are getting treated using TCM, even acupuncture! The acupuncture needles have to be custom made to be used on the elephants.

By the way, how do you know which TCM doctor to go to? Well, you can ask around for recommendations but the truth is, you’ll never know until you try it yourself. The TCM doctor who cured your friend, may not prescribe medication that works well for you. Even the same TCM doctor you always go to might not be able to do wonders all the time. The important thing, is to go to an accredited TCM doctor. Also, avoid TCM medications can come in capsules (most come in powdered or liquid form), as some people might be allergic to the materials that made up the capsules.

Stay healthy, everyone!


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