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Postcard from China

JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Saddened by Terri's passing, I just cannot get myself to giggle this Friday.

Instead of the usual Friday Giggles, I want to tell you about my recent trip to China, specifically, my meetings with many cancer survivors there, and the supplemental treatments they take. I say supplemental because everyone I have talked to have had conventional treatments which included surgery, and/or radiation, chemo.

What I am about to share is purely what I have seen and heard in the last two weeks in China, and what I have learned over the years. I am not presenting any of this to anyone as an alternative to your current treatment. Talk to your doctors and your family about your treatment plans. Consider this a postcard from China only.

As I started to write the first part, I realized that there is quite a big of material to convey. So I will have to break it up and post a little every week.

Bored yet?

Part I: Medicine - Chinese Style

No matter what you see and hear in the news about the trade surplus that China has against the US, China remains a poor country, and one with a very large population. Many parts of China do not have adequate medical care. Therefore, many Chinese still die of simple illnesses that are fundamentally curable by modern medicine. In this sense, China is years behind US in terms of general level of medical care available to most of its citizens. This situation in the rural area is especially true. In the big cities like Beijing, people have access to very good and very affordable medical care. The big hospitals in major cities, both private and public, offer international-standard cure. My entire Chinese experience has to do with big-city, high-end medicine.

In big cities and rural area, what is common, is a deep rooted believe in TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine. Practitioners can vary from graduates from major medical schools to country doctors who provide tonics and ointments. Some rely on CT scans for diagnosis, others can only read your pulse, check your nails and check your tongue. Remedies can come in modern-looking capsules, vacuum sealed pouches or a brown paper wrapped bag of nuts, leaves, berries and the dried bits of some unfortunate creatures. For centuries, before the advent of western medicine, the Chinese people relied on TCM remedies handed down from fathers to sons, from masters to students.

For an interesting read on TCM, check out this wikipedia entry on Li ShiZhen (1518-1593), the man who compiled "Ben Cao Gang Mu" (Compendium of Materia Medica), an encyclopedia of all known Chinese medicinal herbs. The wikipedia link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qichun.

Amongst the professionals who practice "western medicine" and "Chinese medicine", there is often an equally deep rooted distrust of each other. Some scientists and western medicine practitioners condemn Chinese medicine practices as "unscientific", Chinese medicine practitioners accuse the other side of being ineffective and the cures being as harsh as the disease. This is not hard to imagine as the same arguments happen over here to between the MDs and others.

One thing that is different in China - call it steeped in tradition or call it ingrained in the life style, people do generally believe that overall well being is essential in preventing and curing of diseases. Consequently people spend a lot of time, effort and money to "boo" themselves, even when they are healthy. "Boo" is the sound of the Chinese word for fortifying. The Chinese also believe that after an illness, surgery, or chemo, you especially need to boo yourself, to get your strength and wellbeing back. Traditionally, the most boo-ing things have been renshen, lingzhi, huangqi and a few others. Never heard of them? They are also known as ginseng, ganoderma lucida (or rishi) and astragalus. When modern methods finally caught up with ancient beliefs, all three odd-looking things have been shown to have strong immune-stimulation properties. Pretty boo, uh?

While the discussion of western medicine vs. Chinese medicine still rages on, many practicing physicians, MDs, have a much more pragmatic take on things. They dispense chemo, radiation for cancer treatments, and at the same time, they also tell their patients to eat pigs feet to protect their WBC. Why pigs feet? Collagen. Pigs feet is one of those boo things also given to women just after giving birth. It is a common practice in China for cancer patients (who can afford it) to take ganoderma extracts while on chemo to support their immune system. Some even report that it keeps their hair from falling out. After chemo, even the biggest cancer hospital in Beijing (dominated by western medicine) routinely prescribe their patient with a TCM brew made of astragalus and another herb.

I visited several MDs who are my parents' friends. Nearly all of them said, almost casually, now that chemo was over for me, it was time to find some Chinese medicine man to give me something to "tiao" and "boo" myself, meaning to "adjust" and to "fortify".

I did not hear a single person advocating a TCM-only treatment for cancer. However, all the people I talked to believed that there is a time and place for everything, and that it is the combination of conventional medicine and TCM that gives them the edge.

What is the general magic boo-ing formula for everyone? The consensus is that there is no such thing. To get one's personalized brew, one would have to consult with a TCM doctor. There are several big hospitals in Beijing specializing in TCM treatments. Because I had so little time, I did not have time to visit one. Maybe on the next trip.

Coming up next:
- Guo Lin - A Survivor's Story
- Guo Lin Qigong
- The Green Oasis of Life in Beijing

Monicaemilia's picture
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you Ying for taking the time to put this together for us. I know that personally it confirms my own belief to first go through the conventional channels and then, God willing, move on to alternative/hollistic medicine as a supplement. Every little bit helps. Monica

Posts: 126
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Ying,
Your report is awesome. Thank you so much! I'm looking forward to reading more.

chynabear's picture
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Ying,

Very well read and interesting!

Thank you for taking the time to compose this information and for sharing.

How is the diet in China these days? Is it mainly vegetables and stuff, or is it more "Americanized"; i.e. McDonalds, Burger King and stuff?

What are the cancer rates in China? I mean, is cancer as common in China as it is here?

I guess what I am getting at, and maybe nobody can answer, is that in "The Maker's Diet" he lists studies that show the relation between what we eat and disease/cancer. For example, in other countries where they don't have fast food chains and easy access to food and are forced to "work" for their food which consists of mainly fruits, vegetables, seeds, and berries they don't see disease and cancer as strongly as some places like America where there is a strong diet of fast food.

Just wondering and interested,


JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Tricia:

Very good question!

The short answer to your question is - in big cities like Beijing, the Chinese diet is getting worse, not better. With the huge increase in wealth, people are eating much more and eating a diet with more protein, fat and diary. As a result, people are getting fat, kids are getting taller and fat. My mother told me, and I don't know where she got the data from, that breast cancer rate in China is increasing.

The older generation of Chinese, I think, still eat a lot of veggies, just as a habit and as a result of a life time of taste preference. The younger generation now are being raised on other things. The health implications will show up in no time at all, I am sure. I watched some university students eat this meal at the next table which consists of fried fish, friend shrimp, some soup, and all washed down with a bottle of coke. There is American fast food in China, but there's also plenty of greasy Chinese originals. One of the currently "in" dishes that horrified me is called "Fish boiled in water", only the water is oil. I was told that it's very tasty, but I am sure one could do without all that fat.

Another interesting anecdote is how the Chinese is transforming American fast food. out of shear desperation, I grabbed a breakfast burrito with eggs at a Kentucky Fried Chicken one morning. On their menu I found Chinese rice porridge, veggies and other items that Col. Sanders would not recognize in a million years. Things were obviously added to their menu to cater to the Chinese taste. So thank goodness that old China still has a firm grip on foods.

For a sweeping grand study of the relationship between diet and health, please read T. Colin Campbell's book titled "The China Study".


lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006

This is Awesome Ying! Very interesting for those of us that do both sides of the coin. Now I'm off to boo myself with some good lemon/ginsing tea.

Lisa F(who believes in doing everything to beat this disease)

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Very interesting Ying!!!!!

I can totally believe that the 2 sides are distrustful of each other. Heck we show that here on this site too.

I did ganoderma (reishi) and astragalus as part of my regime and really enjoyed reading how it's boos you.

Like the others I look forward to your additional write ups and am interested in your response to Tricia.

Lisa P.

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JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Beverly!

It's good to hear from you! Sounds like your parents brought the good eating habits in from the old country. The paradox is that often healthy foods are associated with poor bad ol' times, and as soon as situation improves, people would opt for fancier foods. Little did they know that all that ethnic foods from the old countries are often the best things. In China in the poor old times we used to live on cabbage and yams all winter. Now cabbage has anti cancer properties and yams is full of anti oxidants. So, in retrospect, we had the healthiest of all foods, although we didn't know it then. I am back on a yams and cabbage diet now!

Polution, chemicals have definitely been shown to cause diseases and cancer. So I wouldn't be surprised if the toxin you were exposed to had something to do with the unusually high incidence of health problems in your siblings.

Hope you're doing well Beverly. Maybe I'll make it out to Boston again to see you and Judith!


Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005


Thank you for this thoughtful, balanced perspective. I look forward to the others.


Posts: 166
Joined: Jul 2005

Very interesting! I will look forward to reading more.


nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

Ying: thank you for taking the time to share; I look forward to the next installment. Bud

Posts: 57
Joined: Nov 2005

Hi Ying,

Very interesting to read your post. I post here only occasionally. My dad lives in Hong kong and is going through "tiao boo" now with two Chinese doctors, one from Beijing in fact. I just went back to Hong Kong to visit dad in March (I live in NJ) and I smiled when you mentioned the food thing. Those "fried dough" for breakfast cannot be good for you.

My dad was diagnosed stage 4 in Noverber 05, went through colon and liver resection. Now he is clean and on chemo-break. He is using mainly Chinese medicine now, juicing, Ling tzi, Yuan Tzi, Maitake. It is just hard to get him change his diet.

Anyway, have fun in China. I have only been to Beijing once.

JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Carm:

Haha! You're too funny!

Yeah, but those friend dough, aren't they good or what? I refrained from having any this time. I did have my share of roasted chestnuts though, and a smallish serving of Peking duck.

Best of luck to your dad. Has he looking into Guolin QiGong yet?


Posts: 553
Joined: Mar 2006

Hi Ying,

Thank you for taking the time to share all of the info. with us. I found myself nodding frequently while reading your post. It seems as though the battle between contemporary and alternative medicine goes on in other countries besides the U.S. I am looking forward to reading more about your trip.

God bless,


2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001


WOW! thank you so much for your insightful and interesting post. I, too, look forward to your future installments.

TCM was an integral part of my cancer healing protocol because it covered a more holistic approach to healing that Western Medicine falls so very short on. I would be lost without Western diagnostics and superior surgical techniques and pain meds post op. Personally I wish the two sides would embrace each other more willingly to complete the whole picture rather than dismiss one side or the other. But I do not imply embracing every thing each side has to offer because I do not believe that either side is without fault and failure.

My surgeon is from the Far East so he is always quite interested to hear about my TCM experiences since, as he said, his grandmother used to practice it with him as a child. :-) This is the same surgeon who told me chemo would kill me. I kid you not!

I definitely believe in the boo! funny, that is the nickname of my littlest and "fortifying" truly fits her!!! She's the one in the photo with me on my webpage.

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to share this with us.

peace, emily whose TCM practitioner had to kick my hinder when I was "slipping away" and she imparted on me the importance of choosing to live. For that, I thank her.

JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Emily:

Thanks for your post.

Too cute to name your little girl boo, like the little girl in Mosters Inc.

I am curious, did your TCM practioner give you a recipe to brew your own stuff? What does your TCM regimen look like?


2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hi ying,

at the time I was seeing her she had me taking Red Clover Stillingia (drops), Bupleurum Liver Cleanse, Chinese - Regeneration, Chinese - Source QI, Maitake Beta-factor, flax seeds, Essiac Tea, some little black herbal pellets that i have no idea what they were, coffee enemas, bentonite clay (drank it to move the toxins out), Vit D drops, and I am sure a host of other things that I am forgetting at the moment.

I went to her weekly for acupuncture and massage and lymphatic drainage. We started the sessions with her counseling me and finding out where I was at so she would know what meridians to work on and what organs...where I had stagnation and blockage. I had some pretty wild reactions to the acupuncture and the body work. It was nothing short of awesome! I highly recommend acupuncture to anyone no matter what protocol they are on. It's amazing powerful stuff!

When you ask about the "brew" are you refering to the Essiac Tea? She did give me the powder from Canada and I had to cook it up myself.

Anyway, I did this for 6 months and went weekly just like if I was having chemo.

does this answer your question?

Boo is just one of many nicknames for my little one. She is continually creeping up on me while I work at the computer and saying BOO! I jump. she laughs. Then I have to grab her and smother her in kisses until she laughs and runs off. It's our game.

peace, emily

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