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Testimony & Presentation - My experience with Chinese medicine

My experience with Chinese medicine

   A few months ago one morning my mother excitedly called me and told me about talking to a friend who was going to see a Chinese physician whose trip to Arkansas to see patients was being sponsored by a local church. This friend reported that the physician was quite famous and had been known to cure people with serious illnesses. Mother said his name was Dr. Guo and asked if I had ever heard of him. To her disappointment I replied that I had not. She urged me to see him as I have been contending with ovarian cancer for over six years now. Being a dutiful daughter (sometimes!), I told my mother I would call the person who was scheduling appointments for this physician and try to obtain more information. (Need I say that this sounded like one more "miracle cure which isn't" and I was highly skeptical!)

   A woman named Martha Landfair whose young son Patrick's juvenile rheumatoid arthritis had supposedly responded amazingly well to Dr. Guo's therapy was scheduling the appointments. I was impressed with Martha; she seemed to be an intelligent, reasonable woman who did not make extravagant claims for Dr. Guo's therapy but who felt that he was a good physician who had been able to help many people, including her son. The cost of the consultation was quite reasonable so I decided to make an appointment to see him -- motivated mainly by curiosity, I'll admit.

   Dr. Guo turned out to be a most impressive individual. He was formally trained as an M.D.-- an oncologist and a surgeon -- as well as a traditional Chinese physician. A fifth generation practitioner, he was trained in traditional Chinese medicine by his father who had practiced Chinese medicine for sixty years. He spent three years at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston researching Chinese herbs and cancer. He now practices Chinese herbal medicine in Chicago. He is a quiet, gentle man who conveys warmth, wisdom, and compassion.

   As is characteristic of Chinese physicians, Dr. Guo used no instruments to examine me. He, in fact, maintained an "appropriate" (by Chinese medicine standards) distance from me -- about three feet. He asked a number of questions and then looked at my tongue. (Chinese physicians have to memorize over 200 "tongue types.") He then placed his index, middle, and ring fingers on my right wrist, not quite parallel as in the reading of the single pulse in the Western style, but at slightly uneven points on my wrist. He "read" my pulse for several minutes and then did the same on my left wrist. During the entire time, not a word was said by either of us.

   In the Chinese system there are six pulses on each wrist, three "superficial" and three "deep." Thus twelve separate pulses are recorded, each correlating with the activity of a specific sphere of bodily function -- "spleen", "large intestine", "circulation-sex", and so on. "Chinese pulse diagnosis is a highly refined art, difficult to master, requiring years of attentive practice and careful correlation with symptoms."'

   Dr. Guo also inquired about my emotional state. I told him that I recognized the importance of stress control and relaxation in the pursuit of health and tried to maintain a peaceful, positive lifestyle. "Relax, relax, relax," he said. "That is the key to the treatment of cancer." Wise words, I thought, and from an oncologist!

   Dr. Guo then prescribed two different herbal mixtures. When I asked what herbs they contained, I recognized astralagus, an herb which has received perhaps the most attention of the Chinese herbs. Current research has verified its immune stimulating properties.

   I have been taking the herbs for several months now. Do I feel better, you ask? I can't tell. I never felt bad to start with so I have no comparison. My cancer is still in remission. Is this because of the Chinese herbs, vegetarian diet, the large numbers of supplements I ingest daily, the injections I give myself, meditation, the "magic rock" I carry in my purse, etc. -- or the natural course of my disease? I don't know. I just rejoice.

   Andrew Weil, M.D., writes, "Potentially, Chinese medicine complements ours ... an ideal interaction of the two systems is closer in reality in China today than in any other time and place. The present government of the People's Republic encourages the simultaneous practice of the two, and in some hospitals patients can choose the kind of treatment they want, with the advice of doctors trained in both schools." 2

   What have I learned from my experience with Chinese medicine? Be open, approach new situations without prejudice, and you may be the richer (or healthier!) for it.

1. HEALTH AND HEALING by Andrew Weil, M.D. Boston:Houghton Mifflin, 1988
2. Ibid

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