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  Chinese Way>Life

Bring back the real Chinese medicine

2013-10-09 13:26:36

(China Daily) By Matt Hodges


True believer

Fruehauf, a renowned Sinologist, was born in Germany to a family of medical doctors but has called the US home for much of the past 20 years. He spent two years studying at Shanghai's Fudan University before gaining his doctorate from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

He was later diagnosed with cancer, which led him to decline a faculty position at Harvard and return to China for the specific purpose of studying Chinese medicine in Chengdu.

He had surgery to remove a tumor but declined to undergo chemotherapy to eradicate the disease and claimed to have found success through TCM methods instead.

Since then, he has spent about one month each year bringing groups of 20 to 30 people to secluded mountain monasteries and retreats in exotic locations like Sichuan and Yunnan provinces to practice tai chi, qigong and other forms of spiritual cultivation with his Chinese teachers.

TCM has come under fire in recent years for its use of toxic herbs that can harm people's health, prompting calls from overseas for greater regulation of the industry. Chinese government began addressing the issue in July by launching a national crackdown on all counterfeit medicines, including those used by TCM doctors.

But Fruehauf sees the media furor as part of a backlash by Western interest groups aimed at constraining the influence at TCM.

"Of course, it's possible that some people can get liver damage from herbs that are heavy-metal polluted, or herbs that are mis-prescribed. But in comparison to how many tens of thousands of people get liver toxicity from Western medicine, there's just no comparison."

Drawing a key distinction with Western medicine, he says the most important thing about TCM is self-empowerment.

"Our job is really to educate people to empower themselves, so they don't need us," he says.

"Of course, as a Chinese medicine practitioner, I'm biased. I think that Chinese medicine has something that's much older than Western naturopathic medicine, and has a much more sophisticated theory behind it."

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