The Mediterranean Regional Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine held their first conference entitled ‘East Meets West’ to demonstrate the effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in a forum intended to engage the public and facilitate the techniques to the Maltese medical system.
Mr Zhou Shijie, Counsellor of the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office, from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malta, opened the conference, greeting those present and outlining the role of TCM.
Prof. Li Zhengya opened the floor with a detailed introduction on what the forum was expected to deliver, mainly a broad understanding of the practices, the techniques used and the benefits TCM can have on a human’s health.
Prof. Victor Grech was the first speaker on the board. After he delivered his interesting and thought provoking lecture entitled ‘Evidence-Based Medicine’, there was a discussion regarding the importance of guidelines in Western prescription of treatment.
Use different types of techniques to treat a variety of illnesses
Western doctors are not exposed to the vast Chinese medical literature and this may explain their reluctance to engage in Chinese methods of treatment. In fact, traditional Chinese medicine is also part of evidence-based medicine, with scientific trials and guidelines, apart from thousand years of positive results. As Prof. Grech said, “If it works, it’s good enough for me.”
Leader of the 14th China Medical Team, Shi Jiangfeng followed the debate with a clear explanation of the practices in TCM. Dr Shi’s main focus was directed towards the clinical application of ischemic stroke by integrated traditional Chinese and western medicine, giving detailed accounts of basic treatment, showcasing the drugs used in western medicine and giving key case studies as proof to his arguments.
“We can use acupuncture and cupping to treat patients with acute stroke in our Acupuncture Unit within Mater Dei Hospital. Treating strokes with moxibustion and acupuncture can be a solution to the life-threatening attack.”
With a series of pressure points found all over the body, conditions such as slurred speech, problems with swallowing and other stroke-related dysfunctions can be treated through acupuncture treatment.
During the forum, a number of issues related to acupuncture were brought up. The professionals on the board pointed out that there are two kinds of acupuncture therapists: some who simply learn the basic techniques and others who devote their life to its proper practice. Results from the latter are generally celebrated and returned to for other ailments in the body.
An Jing discusses moxibustion methods for the benefit of the Maltese public. Given her experience and research in the country, Dr An said she believed moxibustion can help cure or relieve many local symptoms. Moxibustion is a purifying form of heat therapy where a dried plant known as ‘moxa’ is burned and sometimes combined with ginger to increase the flow of Qi in the body. The ‘moxa’ is burned very near to the skin with a layer of salt used as a buffer, this technique is supposed to be warm, invigorating and helps dispel a numerous amount of pathogenic influences.
Professionals like Dr An use different types of techniques to treat a variety of illnesses. Burning tubes, moxibustion boxes and other techniques are combined to help cure problems such as infertility, knee pain and can also be used on children and pregnant women. At times, depending on the treatment needs, acupuncture can be combined with moxibustion to create heated needles to help cure a number of diseases.
The fourth speaker followed the moxibustion introduction with a lengthy debate on acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of headaches. Qi Guanghui, a practising doctor in the MRCTCM opened the floor with a question to the public: “Have you ever experienced headaches or chronic headaches?” a question that urged viewers to nod in agreement. Dr Qi continued to explain the phenomenon of headaches, explaining there are primary and secondary headaches and used TCM theories to explain the treatment of each.
There are about 361 acu-points on the body – choosing the right points to treat a chronic headache requires a certain amount of investigation based on the patient’s system. For instance, a ‘yangming meridian headache’ is a forehead headache that can be treated in a different way to a ‘taiyang meridian headache’ that is experienced in the back of the head.
“Finding the right acu-points on the body is how a good acupuncture doctor treats patients. There are so many points that it takes years of training, research and experience to deliver the right treatment.”
The penultimate speaker discussed the treatment strategies of TCM that may be required for local ailments on the island. TCM doctors question the resistance to disease, the ability to defend, regulate and repair bodily functions. Wang Fei discussed that hereditary factors as well as environmental factors affect such problems. The holistic approach to TCM believes that wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness and fire are the main factors that can increase functional decline in the body.
“We can use acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping and massage to relax muscles and help treat health issues in a traditional, proven and recognised technique,” Dr Wang said. Diet is also a great natural form of pain relief and other forms of discomfort. Fish and olive oil for example are a great treatment for pain relief.
The final speaker discussed paediatric massage therapy, more specifically the treatment of children with fever and diarrhoea. With Dr Shi detailed research on the topic, Bernadette Spiteri, presents the techniques that can be used for paediatric physiology and pathology.
Children with fever and diarrhoea can be treated by hand massage, which is simple and practical. In fact, young parents can learn to take care of their children. Dr Shi’s closing note gave the forum a strong standpoint for success.
“In summary, TCM is simple, effective, experienced and affordable. It is worthwhile to further promote such practices in clinical applications”
Ultimately, traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine each have their own advantages. Taking the benefits of both practices and using them in a well-rounded practice can help invigorate our society and support the well-being of current and future generations.
Question and answer
The second part of the conference involved public participation in the form of a question and answer session. The doctors on the board answered questions that the public deemed important. Dr Shelia Jin acted as the host of the second part of the forum. Some of the questions were directed to particular techniques used, the training the doctors undergo to qualify as TCM professionals and the best choices for every individual patient.
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