Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, October 15, 2004

Got an email from Melissa this morning. She sounded like she had a pretty bad cold:

Well, I got both of your bessages. I am so sorry that I bissed you. This weekend I went up to Eugene to hang out with Michela and Elise. I have been going nonstop it seebs for two weeks now. So I am very exhausted. But I will perservere. I wanted to let you know that I left my wallet in by bag so I have just had by card organizer in by purse. Anyway, so I keep forgetting to put by wallet back hence, there have been some charges on your card as it was the only forb of payment I have in by card organizer that is not libited to one particular store.
Anyway, will you just pray that my schedule clears up along with by sinuses and I will try to be better about keeping appointbents, okay?
Love you

Melissa's email reminded me of the nasty chest cold I had when I was in Kunming last summer. I think it must have been the damp room I stayed in for a few nights after I moved out of Jim's Guest House. Anyway, I had a hacking cough, a burning in my chest, and I was breathing with some difficulty. When I got to the youth hostel, I asked where I could get some herbal medicine. The guy who worked there took me to a drug store, and got me lined up with about a five day supply. One envelope for the "hot" and one for the "cold" (don't ask me what that means). One of each three times a day. Put them in a class of scalding hot water, and drink it as fast as you can. I was going to be on the train for two nights, so I thought perhaps the combination of the herbal medicine and lots of bed rest would heal me. The first night I was on the train, I forced myself to take the last dosage right before I went to bed. When I started drinking the brew, I was wearing a light jacket, because it was a bit chilly. By the time I finished, I was down to my T shirt, and sweating profusely. I went to bed, and slept like a baby. That was the end of my chest cold.

I have never been a fan of Chinese herbal medicine as a substitute for all Western treatments. There are some things for which Western medicine is a better solution. Most Chinese people feel this way too. Fascination with Eastern medicine in the West is matched by fascination with Western medicine in the East. In fact, when penicillin was first introduced in China, many people were giving it to their children like candy.

Having said this, there are some ailments for which Chinese herbal medicine is superior. I especially recommend traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of colds, for which Western medicine has no cure anyway. Since there never has been a vaccine for the cold virus, the best that Western medicine can do is to treat the symptoms.

The point of Western medicine, especially antibiotics, is to kill something that is hurting your body. The centerpiece of Chinese Traditional medicine is the belief that if you are ill, there is something in your body that is out of balance. So the point is to restore that balance, so that your body can heal itself. If I have some kind of infection, I look for something to fight it. But for a cold, I definitely prefer the Chinese solution.

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