Many of us are familiar with western medication. But when we hear the words Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), most of us think of ancient China, our ah mas and the bitter smell of medicinal herbs.
However, TCM is more than just its stereotype of painful needles, cupping and seemingly dodgy medicine. For those who are contemplating TCM but aren’t too sure of what it is like, here are some young Singaporeans that have tried out its various procedures for themselves:
A badminton, soccer and canoe polo player, Marissa has been through uncountable sports strains and injuries. She is no stranger to TCM, having sought TCM treatment since she was 12.
When asked what her most memorable experience was, she immediately replied Meridian Point Acupressure, a treatment that uses massage techniques to unblock pathways through which qi (life energy) flows through.
To release the tension in her shoulders, the TCM practitioner started by massaging the areas around her neck. To Marissa’s surprise, she proceeded to work on pressure points on her leg.
“She pressed this part of my leg,” says Marissa, pointing to a spot behind her knee, “and I felt my whole body loosen up. It really was like magic.” According to TCM, the qi throughout the body is connected through meridian channels – by working on specific points on one part of the body, you can actually relieve tension in another.
One year ago, Jillian sprained her leg after a fall down the stairs. Feeling barely any pain at first, she thought nothing of it and continued with her usual 2.4km run during P.E class. After, she felt a piercing pain through her leg. “I was hopping around everywhere,” she recounts.
An initial blood test showed that she was perfectly fine aside from her sprain. However, when the pain got worse, her dad brought her to a TCM practitioner.
From the way she walked into the clinic, the doctor figured out that the problem didn’t lie in her legs – her hip joints were actually misaligned. In one swift motion, he pushed her hips back into place.
“It was really painful in that moment,” says Jillian. However, within 4 days, she felt almost completely healed.
Since young, Andrea has had sweaty palms and feet. “My feet would just slide off my slippers,” she laughs.
For 3 years, she visited TCM clinics and consumed the prescribed medicine, which contained ingredients like sour jujube seeds, shriveled wheat and ephedra root that aim to fix the “disharmony” of energy in her body.
During the medication, her palms and feet felt a lot less sweaty. But due to it being a genetic issue, the problem resurfaced once she stopped taking her medication.
Sweaty palms are hard to cure, and sometimes require surgery to cut off nerve endings as a permanent solution. For people seeking non-invasive methods, TCM is a viable alternative.
Despite her treatment being only a temporary relief, Andrea still highly recommends traditional medication because of its usage of natural ingredients, especially for problems that require long-term treatments.
Image adapted from: Xavier Chia
“It’s always the neck,” says tutor Xavier, who’s been experiencing neck aches for the last 6 years. “I think it’s because of stress and a lack of sleep. I needed a quick fix, so I decided to try TCM out.”
He went to a local clinic recommended by his dad and underwent acupuncture and cupping – techniques used in TCM to regulate the flow of qi in the body.
Despite the lack of air-conditioning and lingering smell of ointment, he found himself going back whenever the tension in his neck started to build up again.
He added that while TCM does provide immediate relief, it would not magically solve all problems. After seeking treatment, Xavier has also started doing exercises to strengthen the muscles around his neck. “I haven’t had problems with my neck since then,” he says.
Vanessa visited a TCM clinic for the first time 4 years ago when she realised she’d missed her period for 2 whole months.
Worried, she went with her mum to seek TCM treatment and the TCM practitioner recommended doing acupuncture. “The physician poked my lower tummy and the next day, I got my period,” she recounts.
According to the physician, the delayed menstrual cycle was caused by the liang (“coldness”) in her body – essentially a yin-yang (energy) imbalance that affected her internal organ systems. The understanding of the organ systems in TCM varies from conventional medicine.
Contrary to what most think about acupuncture, the procedure was painless for Vanessa. “You don’t feel anything because the needle is so fine,” she says.
Image credit: Jessalyn Ong
Working in the events industry, Jessalyn started experiencing aches in her shoulders a year ago. “I assumed it was minor so I just used a regular medicated patch and thought nothing of it,” she says.
However after the pain persisted for a week, she decided to make a visit to a TCM clinic. After a consultation session, the physician gave her a medicated rub and pasted on a large medicated patch to leave on for a day.
“The pain was gone around 2 days later,” she says.
The prescribed medicated rubs and patches vary depending on the kind of muscle ache you have. Most are oil based and leave either a warm or cooling sensation on the skin.
For people considering TCM, she recommends doing some basic research beforehand or asking lots of questions during the consultation to get a clearer understanding of what the treatment will be like.
Having gone to TCM clinics more than 10 times over the past 3 years, Denise is more than familiar with the traditional Chinese method of healing.
Being a shotput and discus player, she often undergoes rigorous training for her upper body. Once, she accidentally pulled her shoulder muscle while lifting a 40kg weight.
To cure that injury, she got both acupuncture and tui na (therapeutic massage). Both treatments are usually used to complement each other. “Acupuncture cures you a lot faster,” she says “and tui na is comfortable, like a massage.”
In fact Denise enjoys tui na so much that she pops by the clinic even when she isn’t injured just to relax any tired out muscles.
After hearing their stories, I decided to pop by Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic, a well-known TCM clinic chain in Singapore, to check it out for myself.
Upon entering, I was greeted by the clinic’s friendly staff, who took my temperature and blood pressure.
Next, I was brought into the consultation room where I met Physician Yu Jiexin who took my pulse and examined my tongue coating and complexion. Many physicians at Eu Yan Sang TCM clinics are bilingual so even if your fluency in Mandarin is downright terrible or non-existent, there’s no need to worry about any communication barriers.
After asking a few questions about my eating habits and lifestyle, Physician Yu scored a bullseye on the discomforts I have been experiencing. She diagnosed my body constitution to have a deficiency in qi, blood stasis (slowing of blood flow), and a mild case of stomach flu; and therefore suggested acupuncture and cupping treatments.
Acupuncture was indeed painless, and uncomfortable at most. They even provided a bell for me to ring for attention during the typically 15-30 min session!
Despite how it looks, cupping is neither hot nor painful.
Prior to this, I’d never stepped foot into a TCM clinic. The closest I got to the practice was liang cha (cooling tea).
Thankfully my worries were quickly quelled by the friendly staff, as well as Physician Yu’s extensive knowledge and professionalism – plus, my stomach flu really did go away the next day! It was an enlightening and surprisingly pleasant experience overall, and I’ll be returning for more treatments in the future for sure.
When it comes to body discomforts, many of us think “meh it’ll go away”, especially us youngsters. However when it comes to imbalances in your body, the little things matter and sometimes waiting too long might end up aggravating the problem.
For both quick fixes and long term intensive solutions, check out the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic. This long-standing form of treatment is certainly not just for all the grandmas and grandpas out there!
TCM targets the source of your aches, pains and discomforts, instead of just the symptoms. The external symptoms that show up on the surface – like coughing or bad complexion – is a manifestation of internal imbalances.
With over 20 clinics all around Singapore, Eu Yan Sang is one of the largest TCM Group around, offering TCM treatments such as:
You can rest assured that your body is in good hands here because the clinics all follow a customised Clinic Management System that provides two levels of stringent checks to ensure patient safety and accurate dispensing of medicine.
If you are interested in visiting for a treatment, there are 3 different types of clinics that you can visit:
You don’t have to be visibly sick to visit a TCM clinic. TCM can actually be incorporated into part of your daily life to fix any minor imbalances within you and make sure that you are always in the pink of health.
Psst! Here is a lobang from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic specially for TSL readers:
1. First TCM Experience – Consultation + 3-day Medication @ $40 (Nett)
2. First Facial Acupuncture Experience – Consultation + Facial or Body Acupuncture @ $48 (Nett)
This post was brought to you by Eu Yan Sang Integrative Health.
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