Some parts have been translated.
Round the corner, the local ‘yaodian’ is far more than any old pharmacy. It provides traditional Chinese medicine as well as modern drugs, consultations and various other treatments. If you ever sick and ‘need a pick me up’ you won’t find a more colourful and vibrant place to go.
My batteries have been seriously low lately with some nasty energy sapping virus and it’s not surprising with all the bugs being passed around at the moment. I’m seen by Dr Bo who comes from the Hubei Province. Amazingly he’s seventy three years old and still going strong. He has an easy going and approachable manner about him.
After taking my pulse and showing him my tongue (poor man) he makes his diagnosis. “Your body is not in a good balance. Your liver and kidneys aren’t working very well together. There is a fire inside of your body which we need to put out.” This is why I love China. I can’t imagine my local GP in England ever saying anything like that.
At that Dr Bo goes off at a tangent. “You know in Chairman Mao’s time every doctor would think about the patient’s needs. These days some young doctors only try to sell the most expensive medicine. I would never do the same as them.
Now engaging me with conviction he continues. “Do you know Dr Sun Simiao? He was famous almost two thousand years ago and was called the King of Medicine. His book ‘Yao Fang’ is the holy bible of all health. Here we use the same medicine. You will need to take it three times a day for one month.”
Dr Bo then spends five minutes writing a list of twenty five ingredients (“plants and minerals”) to take to the apothecary at the rear of the building. Here your prescription will take shape; a huge pile of natural materials that get formulated into a notorious brown drink served in 250ml sachets. I’ve had it before; a super-bitter concoction of foulness that smells like some old drawers at the bottom of a wardrobe in a rented semi-furnished flat you’re just about to move into. Yes yes, an obscure description I know but unfortunately it is what springs to mind. The best way to take it is by heating it up in a bowl of hot water and downing it in one go. Even so, you’ll still be recoiling for a couple of minutes after.
The shop itself is a wonderful place. All the staff are qualified, wearing white doctors or nurses uniforms. There are beautiful displays of medicine including super expensive ginseng and live sea cucumber which is supposed to be good for the kidneys. There is also ‘dong chong xia ciao’, a plant used for bladder infections. Even a tiny piece is worth a couple of thousand RMB. Near the door is something called ‘e-jiao’. This is donkey skin, red dates and sesame. Its pressed wafer thin and then you’re supposed to crush it into powder and put it in a drink. Apparently it’s good for the blood especially after giving birth.