Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been healing people for thousands of years. Although quite different from Western practices, there are at least five lessons that we can glean from its method and philosophy.
1. Listen – TCM practitioners pay attention to the whole body. Using their senses – sight, smell, hearing, feeling and even taste — to pick up on messages from the body. For the Eastern practitioner, a reddish complexion indicates heat. A sweet smell often points to spleen deficiency and/or dampness problems.
2. Treat the problem not just the symptoms – In most Western medicine, painkillers are prescribed for the pain. In TCM, pain is due to the non-free flow of qi (energy) and/or blood. When the qi and blood flow freely, there is no pain. Therefore, it is essential to keep our qi and blood full and moving freely for optimal health and well-being and especially for being pain free.
3. Treat the whole person – Western medicine focuses on the organs. Eastern medicine treats people as the whole – mind, body and spirit. A TCM practitioner inquires about family, diet, and life stressors, among other areas. S/he takes into consideration what’s going on in the patient’s life.
4. Health is not just about disease, it’s also about wellness – We often see the yin-yang symbol associated with Chinese Medicine. That’s because TCM believes m keeping the body in balance. It addresses wellness as well as prevention.
5. Evidence is in the eyes of the beholder – Many who’ve been treated by Eastern remedies have said that they were able to get relief for ailments that Western treatments failed them. Could it be a placebo effect? Possibly. But even scientific research acknowledges that empirical evidence is not the only method of confirmation. For the rational mind, it’s difficult to accept that we may not be able to explain why – yet positive results have been supported.
More research in TCM practices will continue. In the meantime, it’s valuable to be open to the lessons it can provide.
National Fortune Cookie Day
September 13th is National Fortune Cookie day. Do you know their American history? Fortune cookies became common in Chinese restaurants after World War II. Since desserts were not traditionally part of Chinese cuisine, the cookies provided Americans an after meal treat with an unusual flair.
Early fortunes included Biblical sayings, or quotes from Confucius, Aesop and even Ben Franklin. Later, fortunes included lottery numbers, smiley faces, jokes, and sage, if trivial advice.
Fortune cookies were originally made by hand using a chopstick. In 1964, Edward Louie of San Francisco’s Lotus Fortune Cookie Company, automated the process by creatinv a machine that folds the dough and slips in a fortune. Today, the world’s largest fortune cookie manufacturer, Wonton Food, Inc. of Long Island City, Queens ships out 60 million cookies a month.
What’s your favorite fortune cookie saying? Have you ever had a fortune come true?
During World War II, Shanghai became one of the very few places in the world that would accept European Jews fleeing from the Nazis without documentation. From Germany and Austria alone, 20,000 Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai beginning in 1938. “The main thing was to get out of Germany, and really at this point, people did not care where we went, anywhere just to get away from Germany” was what Ernest Heppner recalled about fleeing his homeland and escaping to Shanghai with his mother in 1939.
Although the well-established Sephardic community prepared a social service system to aid the refugees, Shanghai was still a huge culture shock. Refugees who came to Shanghai on a European liner and served breakfast, now found themselves waiting on a line in a soup kitchen. They were very poor and jobs were hard to find. As time went on, many started to adapt. Some launched small cafes, shops, or small factories; others worked as doctors or architects. The Heppners opened up a place called Café Louis, which became a popular spot for the refugees to gather. The refugees developed their own little area called “Little Vienna” due to the cluster of European restaurants and shops.
They dealt with rumors of being deported without warning. They combated diseases by soaking fruits in chemicals before eating. Bathing was an extravagance as hot water could only be bought in stores. Dormitories were filled over capacity and everyone shared a single washroom. Living situations weren’t the only thing; disease was an enormous problem. By the end of 1939, scarlet fever killed well over 100 people in shelters; and by the end of 1944, hunger and infection killed about 1,000 of the Jewish population.
Even though they managed, it still wasn’t a glamorous lifestyle for the German and Austrian Jews. “The conditions in Shanghai were terrible, but it wasn’t Auschwitz,” said Ingrid Wilmot, a survivor of the hard times.
Most survivors left China in the late 1940s; and they refrained from talking much about the experience. China recently opened the Shanghai Jewish Museum to honor their history.