sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ Spotlight

Faith in TCM
By Li Qian Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-06-11 10:43


Despite skepticism of Western doctors and general public about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), NBA star Yao Ming has chosen the ancient remedy to help heal the stress fracture in his left foot after surgery in early March. He is hoping to get better in time for the Beijing Olympic Games in August this year.

In the center of the intense debate is whether TCM would help or harm Yao’s recovery. Some people claim there is no scientific evidence to support TCM.

But Professor Niu Xin, an expert in the area of integrating traditional and western medicines, said he believed TCM will help Yao.

“Western medicine may work more rapidly in reducing pain and treating many ailments, while TCM is specially effective in treating bone injuries,” said Niu, director of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine International School.

Moxibustion, like accupuncture, is one of the main treatments in TCM. [file photo/Asianewsphoto]

Niu said Yao’s cultural background made him more receptive to using TCM. He says when it comes to deciding which medicine is best for a patient, it is good to respect his or her own choices.

There are abundant examples of Chinese athletes employing TCM in curing injuries and enhancing physical performances. More than 90 percent of Chinese athletes who get injured are treated in China, many of whom get TCM treatment. For example, the Chinese women’s volleyball team members often use herbal vapors to reduce swollen ankles, and national gymnasts receive accupuncture and massage regularly.

And latest media reports said Yao is set to join his national team mates for full Olympic training in June as the basketball center continues his recovery from foot surgery with the help of TCM.

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 Modern Western medicine is based on technical data and testing, while TCM largely works on practical experiences, which Prof. Niu admitted hindered the promotion and popularization of TCM outside China.

TCM was formed and developed through China’s thousands of years of history, and was the only form of medicine before Italian missionary Matteo Ricci‎ introduced Western medicine into China in 1580. According to Prof Niu, although the modern medicine has taken over 80 percent of China’s medical field, traditional medicine is still an important part.

The relatively low cost and effectiveness of TCM provides an ideal solution to mass medical treatment in a populous country like China, which aims to realize universal medical insurance by 2020.

As a medicine that derives its ingredients from nature, “TCM does well in strengthening people’s health and preventing potential illnesses”, Prof. Niu said.

And one sport enthusiast also sings the praises of TCM.

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