Angry Doctor

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cow Dung

Taken by itself this letter published in Today yesterday would be no different from the usual cow dung-type of argument for alternative medicine.


Let us go natural
TCM can keep toxins at bay
Letter from Chia Hern Keng

LATELY, there has been a lot of talk about the harm of consuming trans fats. Suddenly, the table margarine that we have been using for the last 40 years is looking like poison.

Before there is widespread panic given the continual barrage of reports and letters on this danger, allow me to provide a different perspective based on what I have learnt from general concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM says that all foods we consume contain varying levels of tu or toxins, which can cause health problems like heart disease, diabetes and rheumatism.

It also advocates the use of foods as medicine to keep ourselves healthy rather than to seek treatment when we feel ill.

Various common herbs sold in our neighbourhood medical halls and supermarkets are in fact meant for regularly ridding our bodies of toxins that we accumulate from foods, air and other sources.

Another TCM concept is that of re chi, or heatiness — which is another word for a kind of toxin — that affects one's physical health, performance and emotions.

Thus, Chinese grannies who prepare "cooling" herbal concoctions know their therapeutic value. Alas, due to modernisation and the popularity of Western medicine, not everyone now appreciates this.

However, it must be noted that TCM detox herbs can also be toxic if consumed in large quantities, causing unwanted side-effects. A Chinese traditional physician or sinseh would be better placed to advise on this but I would also like to highlight what I think is an underrated system of healthcare.

It is impossible to avoid taking in toxins even if one sticks only to organic foods. For instance, we breathe in air that contains vehicle exhaust emissions. Electronic waves from mobile phones, TV, radio and other wireless communications are also constantly in contact with our bodies' energy fields. These cannot be altogether harmless.

So even as humans have to contend with more pathogens, let us find natural ways to rid our systems of the toxins that promote these pathogens — as a number of natural therapies like TCM and naturopathy seem to agree upon.


Mr Chia describes the paradigm of TCM, but ultimately he provides no evidence for the veracity of that paradigm, nor does he point us to any evidence that TCM can rid our bodies of such ‘toxins’.

Like I have said, taken in itself this letter would not have merited more attention, except for this article which also appeared in Today the same day.


Cancer cures: Be more wary
Alternatives to conventional therapy should be taken with care, say oncologists
Sheralyn Tay

An alternative option to conventional cancer treatments has its appeal but oncologists at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) are urging their patients to be more cautious when considering such treatments.

According to Dr Donald Poon, associate consultant at NCCS, some 80 per cent of his patients are on some kind of complementary or alternative medicines (CAM), a 20 per cent leap from a study done in 1998 on cancer patients.

Dr Poon, however, is more worried about the estimated 10 per cent of patients who completely forgo conventional cancer treatment for CAM, as he believes this number may be growing.

A 50-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, stopped her breast cancer medication in favour of a herbal paste recommended by a friend who also had cancer.

Said her son, Mike: "(Our friend) claimed that this lump actually became smaller and smaller so we decided to stop (conventional treatment) temporarily."

But more than a year later, his mother had backache, numbness, and difficulty walking. They returned to NCCS to find that the tumour had spread to the spine.

Scenarios like this could be avoided if patients take claims of cancer prevention and cures with a little more scepticism, feels Dr Poon.

Dr Swee Yong Peng, a western-trained doctor who is also vice-principal of the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said that he finds wild claims of cancer cures "appalling".

He stressed that if a patient chooses TCM over orthodox therapies, the same standards of care must apply, such as getting X-rays or scans done.

"(A patient or doctor) cannot just depend on taking a pulse to say you're getting better," said Dr Swee, who sees three or four patients every month who choose to forgo their western treatment, and has managed to convince about half of these patients to go back to conventional therapy.

Noting that early breast cancer is one disease best dealt with using conventional methods, he added: "If Western medicine gives you a good chance, then why forgo it for TCM?"

As for using CAM together with conventional treatment, Dr Poon said it should always be done in consultation with a doctor. An example is taking antioxidants while on cancer treatment, as antioxidation actually counters the effects of radiotherapy. Another is wheatgrass, which prolongs the recovery of low white blood cell count.

With the proliferation of supplements and foods purporting to prevent or treat cancer, consumers must assess those claims carefully, said Dr Poon.

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5 Comments:

  • '...air that contains vehicle exhaust emissions. Electronic waves from mobile phones, TV, radio and other wireless communications are also constantly in contact with our bodies' energy fields.'
    As TCM is based on 'centuries'-old practices, how do TCM proponents know old 'therapies' rid us of these new 'toxins' which didn't exist centuries ago.

    By Blogger huajern, At December 20, 2006 10:57 pm  

  • Because everyone believes that TCM is a panacea for all our ills. And those of your dog too!

    By Anonymous Med Student, At December 20, 2006 11:29 pm  

  • You fools, TCM is centrally concerned with toxins thousands of years before Western medicine - which had believed so much in the "germ theory" - began even to talk about it.

    Words like "Re Tu", "Re Chi" or simply "Re" often used colloquially refer to types of toxins.

    I know of a Western doctor who decades back used to "correct" his patients that there is no such thing as "Re" or heatiness but only germs that were afflicting them.

    Hence the use or even abuse of antibiotics that harm the human immunity system greatly.

    Today the perception in Western medicine is different.

    Today Western medicine talks about toxicity in foods and body responsible for health problems. And you think Western medicine was the discoverer.

    Angry Doctor is a fool and so are his commentators.

    Does he not know that many Western doctors in Singapore are now rushing to learn acupuncture organised by the local TCM fraternity until there is no place left.

    Follow the news please!

    How can a doctor be ANGRY and still be able to properly help his patients?

    You doctor yourself is sick. Heal yourself first. You are probably toxic in body and nervous system.

    I suggest you consult a good TCM, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic or Naturopathic practitioner to detox.

    I doubt Western medicine can help you.

    You will only make your patients worse without a healthy constitution and hence a healing attitude.

    If you still insist, go on and run down TCM while others health practitioners are finding treasures in it, including more and more from the West.

    If you do not know your own Asian culture from which you sprang from but look down on it, shame on you.

    Must you follow your institution like a blind follower and wait till TCM become popular in the West before you pretend that you always thought it was worthy of your consideration.

    I mean this roundabout way was exactly how acupuncture was picked up by the local hospitals some 20 years back.

    Did Western medical school teach to be so closed-minded and bigoted and call a reader's letter to the press Cow Dung without investigating that field of knowledge?

    And as for the snide comment by "med student" that TCM is even suitable for your dog, does he or she not know that even animals can be treated with acupuncture?

    You chaps are ignoramuses who hide your heads in the sands. There are more and more websites promoting TCM and yet you are denying this global trend.

    This issue is not about winning arguments but about the suffering of humanity and how to alleviate it.

    If you do not have the heart for suffering humanity you should not practise medicine at all. This is my honest opinion to you.

    Of course there are quacks and cheats in TCM practices just as there are in Western medicine.

    Do not lump the genuine with the false.

    Start Learning!

    By Blogger Kenneth, At June 10, 2007 12:04 pm  

  • Kenneth,

    I don't know where you get your sources from but any doctor or health practitioner would know that illness can be cause by more than germs and western medicine has known that for long. Western medicine is aware that if u ate poisonous mushrooms it's not germs that make you sick, but it's toxins.

    Antibiotics do not kill your body's cells because they are designed to target bacterial proteins (which also has the potential to kill gut flora).

    As for acupuncture or homeopathy or the like of it, studies show lack of evidence for effectiveness of it. Acupuncture has been said to be harmful in certain cases and homeopathy is simply witchcraft, believing plain water can cure.

    By Blogger Frank, At August 01, 2009 10:02 pm  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 07, 2013 7:08 pm  

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