Traditional Medicine

One of the stores that we passed when we walk around the Chinatown area in Singapore was a traditional Chinese medicine store. The store is like a traditional version of a pharmacy. They have pre-packaged medicines as well as made-to-prescription mix of medicine for various kinds of ailments. The difference is that they have ingredients that might be unusual or even off-putting to westerners — things like some dried plants, herbs, insects, and other things sourced from the nature that one may not think have medicinal value.

I didn’t have much experience with traditional Chinese medicine until a few years ago when my dad had a stroke. Fortunately it was not fatal, though he loss ability to control parts of his body. Since then, my dad went through various kinds of treatment and physical therapy methods. As part of those, we had a mix of both western/modern type treatments as well as some more traditional supplements that were recommended by others we knew.

During the initial few weeks of the treatments, we took my dad to a Chinese medical clinic in Jakarta that was a branch of an institution in China. He went through several acupuncture sessions performed by a Chinese doctor. The doctor also prescribed some medicine for him. We took the prescription to the in-house pharmacy where we could see the pharmacists prepared a mix of various natural ingredients that once they were mixed together, they were packaged into portions that were meant to take home and consume three times a day. Typically this means taking the mix and brew it in hot water, and the patient was supposed to drink it. My dad said it tasted quite nasty, but I guess that’s what medicine is like.

In today’s world, especially in a place as modern as Singapore, it is interesting to see that people are still using the traditional medicine, sometimes in place of using modern medicine. With the advance in medical field, sometimes we question anything that may not necessarily backed by scientific research. We tend to believe in modern drugs and may think the effectiveness of traditional medicine. But I think one should consider the fact that while the traditional medicine may not be the product of scientific research, sometimes these are prescribed methods of treatment that has been used in centuries and passed on through generations. I know in my family’s case, we kept an open mind on anything that potentially could help improve my dad’s conditions, and evaluated any methods with our own research and advice from those we know who are from the medical field. It’s important to ensure that you don’t experience unintended side effects when you mix modern and traditional medicine.

Chinese medicine store

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