Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Bee Larvae

If I was not before, I now am a firm believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

For the past 20-odd years, I have been nagged with episodes of heat rash after short spells in the sun. Any parts of my body exposed to the sun would inevitably reddened, turned coarse with goosebump-like patches and my, do they itch! Sun block helps but does not work if I’m out and about in the sun for extended periods. So you would find me all covered in long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hat and armoured (with sun block!) in the heat of the tropics or during a sunny summer’s day. “Weirdo”, some people would probably think. But do I care about what others think? No way. Because I’m obsessed with preventing heat rash attacks, for hell hath no fury like a heat rash attack – once the unwelcomed guest finds footing on me as the reluctant host, it would stay for at least a week, sometimes up to 10 days.

Western medicine doctors have prescribed calamine lotion, anti-histamine and anti-itch medication. All merely reduces the symptoms and even then, only for a couple of hours at most.

One of the stops of my tour in Beijing in May this year, was a Traditional Tibetan Medicine establishment, housed in the Olympic Games Village. After a short foot massage, a TCM practitioner asked if I wished to have him diagnose any health problems that I may have. I obliged without any hesitation. After feeling my pulse for about 3 seconds, he said, through a translator, that my hormones are imbalanced which resulted in skin problems. He prescribed bee larvae (of course at that time I had no clue that it was bee larvae), which I should take 2 capsules twice a day for 3 months.

It cost me a bomb – RMB3600 or roughly RM1800. When I got back to the bus, Papa was shocked that I had purchased the medicine and told me in no uncertain terms that I should have disappeared right after the foot massage. I said “Never mind, if it cures me from the heat rash attacks then it is worth paying for”. Despite my nonchalance, I never believed for a second, that a 3-month prescription after a 3-second diagnosis would cure me of a 20-year ailment!

When I returned home, I put away the bottles as (a) I could not be sure if the capsules really contained bee larvae; (b) I have failed to get any conclusive information on the net about the Traditional Tibetan Medicine establishment; and (c) upon Mama’s encouragement that it is only bee larvae and that the doctor would surely not wish to harm me. So in July, I started taking the bee larvae as a “stock clearance” exercise.

The effect of the bee larvae was apparent 3 months later. On 4th Oct 2009, after a one and a half hour trek downhill from Kampung Terian to Kampung Timpangoh in the late morning (but very hot) sunshine, I discovered a red band on the back of my neck – the only area exposed to direct sunlight. But lo and behold! No itch!!! I couldn't believe it!!! But very pleased nonetheless.

So all non-believers of TCM, this is your proof that TCM does work. And it worked where Western medicine had (and still has) no answer. This episode gave me a first-hand experience of what others has been saying all along – that TCM goes to the root of the problem, in my case, hormonal imbalance, while Western medicine merely treats the symptoms.

[1] An-hour long boat-ride to a longhouse during a trip to Sarawak in Dec 2001, resulted in a particularly bad spell of heat rash. A TCM practitioner at Tung Shin Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, prescribed 3 doses of herbs and dried insects (which looked like bumble bees without the stripes). I boiled the herbs/insects for over 3 hours, reducing 3 bowls of water into 1 bowl, drank it and the rashes subsided within an hour from the time I drank the first dose.

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