18 September 2018
According to Chinese medicine, prunella herbal tea helps remove heat from the liver. Source: Dayre
According to Chinese medicine, prunella herbal tea helps remove heat from the liver. Source: Dayre

Herbal tea in summer, anyone?

One profession I would never fancy taking up in my next life is this: Chinese medicine doctor.

Well, the prescriptions they dole out can be quite perplexing for patients at times, while on some occasions the remedies offered are seen as no big deal as the doctors appear to be merely stating the obvious.

Let me share an experience I had this week with a member of that tribe.

After an UberEATS press conference, I made my way to a Chinese medicine doctor who was present in the room, hoping for a quick diagnosis on my physical appearance and state of health.

I didn’t have any compelling reason for a check-up; it’s just that I followed the others in the room who were all lining up for free consultation.

After taking my pulse, the doctor shook his head and said: “Do you mind if I tell you something?”

“Yes, please,” I responded, almost stopping breathing.

“You seem to have a serious problem. Please find a time for a detailed check-up,” the Chinese doctor said.

Phew, what a relief! It’s just a marketing gimmick, the likes of which I have seen before, I felt.

I had learnt, for instance, that a top private hospital in the city was in the habit of hiring “medical experts” and have them spout the same lines they always use for advising the retirees.

Returning to my encounter with the Chinese medicine doctor, following the initial words of advice, I was told that I was showing a syndrome of “hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency”.

Well, most reporters/writers do have “fire” within their bodies given the nature of their work, and I am no exception, especially given my age.

I was given spice prunella drink (xia ku cao), which, according to the herbal tea bible of UberEATS, will do a lot of good for clearing the liver, while improving vision, dispersing pain and reducing swelling.

I already knew before that herbal tea, not ice-cream, is better for me, although I chose to ignore the advice in favor of Haagen-Dazs.

Ten years ago, I visited a Chinese doctor whom I later found out was considered one of the best in Hong Kong Island.

Every day he had a long queue outside his office. The business was so good that he hired two assistant Chinese medical doctors. I was lucky that day because I was in the master’s own line.

I suspected the doctor might have some hearing problems. He liked to ask questions so loudly that patients had to forget about their personal privacy.

“When was your last menstruation?” was among the questions he usually shouted when dealing with female patients, a line that quickly became folklore within the healthcare community.

When my turn came, the doctor asked me to show my tongue, and immediately asked if I felt itchy all the time.

Feeling offended, I said “no”. But 20 seconds later, I did feel itchy and recalled that it was always like that.

That was the magical part that I always do not understand. But looking at the paper he handed to me, I felt that I could become a Chinese doctor as well.

I figured that I would have to skip almost all of my favorite foods, especially the deep-fried stuff, if I were to follow his recommendations.

After poring through the long list, I learnt that the only thing I could consume without ill side-effects was pork and rice.

Well, I now have one more item on the safe-list — prunella herbal tea.

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EJ Insight writer

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