China Medical Trip 2012 Report – Integrating Chinese and Western Medicine

A seventeen-strong delegation from the Chinese Medical Institute and Register (CMIR, UK) visited the top Chinese medical institutions during a two-week tour of China between 13th and 28th October. The group met Professor Zhang Boli – the President of the Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and his team. A discussion on the latest research in Chinese medicine and its significance to patients in the West was passionately conducted to promote East-West medical exchanges.

Professor Zhang suggested that introducing Chinese medicine into national healthcare of any country will be beneficial not only clinically to the patients but will also help to substantially cut the cost of healthcare. A statistical survey in China has shown a 6.38% in cost cutting compared to the use of Western medications.

Concerning the research and development of artemisinin – the anti-malaria drug that saved millions around the world and which originated from the Chinese herbal tradition when it was researched by the Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, the CMIR delegates asked how the Chinese medical records influenced the discovery by Professor Tou You You and her team. In response, it was pointed out by Professor Zhang Boli that the vast recorded clinical experience of Chinese herbal materia medica was essential in providing leads to the researchers. Pharmaceutical companies should be encouraged to take Chinese medicine seriously in the development of future natural drugs rather than wasting billions on isolating chemical molecules.

The CMIR delegates spent two days on clinical study in Dong Fang hospital attached to the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. The focus was on the treatment of diseases related to metabolic syndromes and acupuncture-related techniques such as cupping and laser and electro-acupuncture. The visit to the herbal dispensaries was enjoyed with enthusiasm by the delegates.

The two museums of the history of Chinese medicine and the special lecture delivered by Professor Mei at the University were part of the highlights of the trip. Professor Mei’s lecture on the implications of modern science for the Chinese syndrome differentiation methodology sparked unexpected interest from the overcrowded lecture hall that normally holds two hundred people.

Besides the medical content of the trip, the group visited the ancient capital of Lou Yang, a place whose significance can be traced back to 5,000 ago and the beginnings of Chinese history. The visit to the White Horse Buddhist temple – the first temple in China which all other temples imitated, was inspirational along with the visits to other sites of great cultural heritage. The delegates were completely immersed into the depths of the Chinese civilisation. The group also enjoyed the variety in taste of the regional foods.

A particularly poignant moment was felt at the birthplace of the great Tang poet Tu Fu where his poems were recited in a multi-media atmosphere that brought the ancient to the present. The Long Men cave temples was a magnificent sight to say the least. On the bank of the Yi river, the group took the opportunity to reminiscence about the greatness of ancient China.

The Buddhist show, a moving epic performed against the natural background of real mountains and lakes with special effects and additional lighting during the night was a memorable moment. It convinced the group that this was a once in a lifetime experience. Many have already signed up for the next trip in 2013.