Herbal medicine aiding DC
Updated: 2015-01-22 14:32
By LIU CHANG in Washington(China Daily USA)
Healing Washington sounds like an idea whose time has come.
In the hopes of making medical rarities available to locals in Washington, a family has run a Chinese herbal medicine store, Da Hsin, for almost 35 years in Chinatown, attracting a cross-section of patrons curious about an exotic legacy unfamiliar to most Westerners.
Store owner Qirong Jiang, originally from eastern China's Anhui province, came to the US in 1981. A regular at the biannual Canton Fair in Guangzhou, Jiang has imported furniture, ceramics, souvenirs, gifts, food and alcohol from China. Of all he offers, what stands out most is the Chinese herbal medicine.
"Herbal medicine is part of our traditional cultural heritage," said Jiang.
His store, which stands on 7th St NW, near the giant Friendship Arch of Chinatown, cooperates with a licensed traditional Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, Dr Zhao Lin Yang, who prescribes herbal concoctions patients can buy at the store.
Jiang said he imports some special herb medicines from the Bozhou Medicinal Herb Market in Anhui province, one of the largest traditional Chinese medicine markets in the world, and some from agencies in New York.
"Nowadays we worry about pollution. So I went to the Bozhou market myself and talked to providers to make sure of the quality of the herbs I wanted," said Jiang.
"I want to build the reputation of Chinese herbal medicine here," said Jiang. "It is different from Western chemical medicine because it is naturally organic."
Jiang's father was a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, he said. As a child, he watched his father listen to patients' complaints about their ailments, check their demeanor, movement, voice, bodily sounds, and complexions, examine their tongues, take pulses and temperatures, feel skin and muscle tone, and then prescribe herbal remedies.
"Those childhood memories are still vivid in my mind today," said the octogenarian with a smile. "Although I am a business man, I know the basics of herbal Chinese medicine."
Jiang's son, who has a degree in computer science, and his daughter, who has a medical degree, both recently came to join him and help run the business.
"I wish that my store will continue to pass on the traditional cultural legacy as long as I live," Jiang said.
Da Hsin sells more than 300 herbs. According to store clerks, more Western than Chinese customers are starting to buy the herbs.
Chinese herbal medicine developed as part of an ancient culture from tribal roots. By 200 BC, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) was well established. The classic Chinese book on medicinal herbs was written by Li Shi Zhen in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which listed nearly 2,000 herbs and extracts.
In China, more than 3,200 herbs and 300 mineral and animal extracts are used in more than 400 different formulas. Herbal formulas may contain four to 12 different ingredients, to be taken in the form of teas, powders, pills, tinctures or syrups.
Since 1949, the Chinese government has supported the use of both traditional and Western medicine. Chinese herbal medicine first accessed the US market in the 1970s. Now at least 40 US states license practitioners of TCM.