Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Health ministry gets serious about promoting TCM


by MICHAEL WOODHEAD
If you have depression take a herbal infusion of daylily. If you have avian flu, use a few capsules of anti-cold Chinese herbs. These are just as effective and much cheaper than using western pharmaceuticals. That's the official advice from the National Health and Family Planning Commission this week.

At a press briefing organised in Beijing, the ministry's propaganda chief Mao Qun'an said that it was important to look at the public health advantages of using Traditional Chinese Medicine for fighting and reducing the burden of disease, as demonstrated by officials from Gansu province. He said the TCM promotion efforts of Gansu's health department were the "correct direction" and should be a model that other provinces can learn from.

He introduced TCM advocate Liu Weizhong from Gansu, who described how daylily was being sold by the ton in Gansu for the treatment of depression.

"Gansu is a poor province but we have harnessed the power of herbs such as daylily as a low cost way to manage disease in the population," he said.

"When Gannan Tibetan country has landslides many of the local people suffered from insomnia, anxiety and depression. We put two tons of day lily in 12 cauldrons, gave every person a paper cup and treated 7000 people at a cost of 1.4 yuan each. The depression was all gone," he said.

[A quick google search shows that daylily aka Hemerocallis is a traditional herbal remedy that contains active ingredients including clonidine - a drug for hypertension that can cause neurospychiatric effects].

Likewise Liu Weizhong claimed that avian flu, which caused many deaths and serious complications in China, could be easily and successfully treated with just three or four capsules of a Gansu TCM remedy that cost less than 200 yuan. This was much better than the regular medical treatment for avian flu that cost ten times as much, he said.

Another TCM panacea was the health prevention kit issued to households which consisted of a bag of salt, scrapers, plates, cupping utensils and a thermometer.

Liu Wenzhong said farmers were told to boil some fennel and pepper leaf and use this with the equipment as a cure for 13 kinds of disease, including cervical spondylosis, thyroid nodules, cough, pharyngitis, lumbar disc prolapse, frozen shoulder, arthritis, stomach pains, and especially senile prostatic hypertrophy.

These folk remedies might sound like old wives' tales. but they have the official backing of the State Council as well as the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

In February the State Council issued a "strategic plan for development of Chinese medicine," which said that with the ageing population "there is an urgent need to develop and make good use of Chinese medicine".

The NHFPC agreed, saying that Gansu was leading the way in developing TCM and putting it at the centre of healthcare.

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