Chinese vs. Western Medicine

One of the things I find infuriating is the Chinese insistence that Chinese Medicine is best, even when it patently isn’t. I’m going to set aside the whole “period pain issue” (girls here seem to think it’s virtuous to suffer without painkillers) because I’m, well, a guy, and getting into that just feels weird on a bunch of different levels.

Anyhow, returning to the main focus of this entry, I had a pop at a kid who skipped a class because he had a headache. Now I get migraines when I get stressed. They can be blinding, and always involve me “up-chucking” eventually (I earned a degree of astonished admiration from the kids at my first school by vomiting in class, and continuing with the lesson), so I asked if he had one of those.

No, he said, he didn’t. So, I countered, why didn’t you take an aspirin get yourself to school (I’m sorry, but I come from the well you’re not dead yet so get your bum to work school of thinking)? Well, he replied, “I took Chinese Medicine for the headache.” This is where my head started hurting. It always does when I have conversations like this, because I know I’m going to come up against some crazy-ass Chinese logic, which makes no sense. The rest of the conversation went like this:

“So why didn’t you come in to school after taking the Chinese medicine?”

“I was waiting for my headache to clear.”

“How long did that take?”

“12 hours.” (I’m really not kidding, he really did tell me 12 hours)

“Have you heard of aspirin?” (which I found out was pronounced asPEErin here, but that’s a whole other story)

“Yes”

“Have you ever taken it?”

“Yes”

“Did you have some?”

“Yes”

“How long does that take to clear you headaches?”

“2 hours”

“So why didn’t you take that?”

“Chinese Medicine is better.”

“How do you come to that conclusion?”

So we had a discussion about “evidence based medicine”, which was pretty well timed, because I was at that point of the curriculum anyway.

What I don’t understand is this dedication to a crazy idea, in the face of the evidence to the contrary. This kid know how we made aspirin, knew that it was stronger and more effective, and still chose Chinese medicine.

Incidentally, for those who think I was being a hard-arse, maybe I was, but he’s never been absent from my lesson, and he’s got the potential to better in the subject he missed. Equally, he swore up and down he wasn’t just skiving. This is China, he he couldn’t lie well if his life depended on it.

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