Mmegi Online :: Traditional medicine, China’s modest treasure
Last Updated
Thursday 22 February 2018, 23:12 pm.
Traditional medicine, China’s modest treasure

The stink of traditional herbs and what smelled like marijuana (to those familiar with the smell) greeted African journalists invited by the Chinese Government a good distance before reaching this beehive of a hospital. Staff Writer MPHO MOKWAPE tagged along and now shares her experience of ‘China’s Traditional Medicine Hospital’, the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, the biggest of its kind in China
By Mpho Mokwape Wed 29 Mar 2017, 15:06 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Traditional medicine, China’s modest treasure

Batswana remember vividly the Palapye woman herbalist who was roasted and ridiculed for declaring that she had found a medicinal plant that can cure HIV/AIDS. Many were quick to dismiss her “claim” and the Government’s slow move to respond to her claims was a clear sign of doubt. Are we failing as a nation to recognise our very own treasure? It is a question that will remain unanswered for decades to come.

The Government could be blamed for not doing enough to tap into the country’s rich indigenous herbs and methods used by our forefathers to heal ailments. But while the nation is still being too dismissive and skeptical about people who claim to have found cures using local herbs, China is tapping into its traditional treasure, traditional herbs and healing methods with good effect.

Traditional Chinese medicine and methods have reportedly become the country’s focal point in its medical system and it is a treasure to the nation with thousands of the country’s population opting for it before other available medicines.

China’s traditional medicine hospital, situated in one of the country’s largest provinces, Jiangsu, the Nanjing hospital is one example that China has moved with the times to tap into the indigenous methods of addressing a growing number of ailments amongst its people.

Not only are we told that the hospital is the busiest, but it records millions of patients. In 2016 alone, a total of 4.8 million patients visited the hospital for medical attention.

Walking around the hospital provides a scenic view totally different from that of a normal hospital. Some patients are lying in their beds while pricked with pins and one lady walks about the hospital in what seemed like a wooden cup stuck in her cheek. With our endless questions, we are told these are all healing methods used in the hospital together with the herbs.

Head of department at the hospital, Professor Sun Jian Hua explained that traditional medicine is popular in China because traditions and cultural values are embedded in the medicine and that it has in the last decades contributed to maintaining health and well being of the Chinese people.

“Traditional medicine is popular among the Chinese people because of its embedded values in our culture. This hospital is big and it receives around 15,000 patients daily and the numbers are growing,” said



Sun said the hospital focuses on traditionally treating different ailments and explained that treatment depends according to the diagnosis of the patient.

He explained that acupuncture was the most popular form of treatment among patients in the hospital going as far as treating strokes and neurotic ailments.

He explained further that acupuncture has been widely practised from time immemorial. Being an ancient Chinese practice, it is a complimentary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles to alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions.

“This form of treatment is popular because it has proven to be effective in the treatment of even difficult diseases such as stroke.

Pins are inserted in different areas of the body with the specific focus on the diagnosis. It is also popular as it has provided instant relief in situations like bloating and indigestion”, he said.

Sun further explained that the length of treatment depends on the problem and that it can be done once off or more than once. Sun maintained that being able to do acupuncture takes a lot of skill since needles are used and can affect vital organs, therefore training is very important.

He said it could take one up to eight years to perfect the skill with a lot of internship training after five years of tertiary studying. He is the lead acupuncture physician with more than 30 years experience in the field of traditional medicine and acupuncture.

The country does not only have a traditional medicine hospital, but it also has a University (Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine) dedicated to the study and research of traditional medicine. This is where aspiring doctors are trained on Chinese medicine. The University also doubles as a research centre for traditional medicines, especially the study of herbs and exploration of other methods of healing.

According to one of the University authorities, Dr Sun, the University is one of China’s earliest higher learning institutions, having produced over 30,000 advanced professionals in Chinese medicine.

He explained that currently the University has over 20,000 students with 1,500 international ones in different fields of study including medicine, management and science.

“It is one of the leading Universities in the studying of traditional medicine. This is more of a research centre for traditional herbs and healing methods and students go through vigorous training”, he said.


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