CONVERSATIONS WITH… A TCM Expert

Physician Lim Lay Beng doesn’t just use traditional Chinese medicine to heal you, she’ll help you balance your life.

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If you don’t know better, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seems to take an unconventional approach to healing. Besides the use of herbs and roots, some treatment options even involve needles and suction cups ― so, yes, TCM is indeed a far cry from its Western counterpart.

Unlike Western medicine, which addresses a patient’s symptoms, TCM takes a more holistic approach to treatment. Explains Lim Lay Beng, a TCM physician at YS Healthcare, “[TCM] not only helps you to restore and enhance your health, but also teaches you to balance your life, so as so to be in harmony with others and the environment ― to prevent the future diseases.”

A TCM diagnosis is also more complex than just taking one’s pulse. A proper one has four steps ― observation, smelling and listening, asking questions and analysing the pulse rate.

Lim explains, “This will help the physician collect information, correlate, consolidate and analyse the illness of the patient, identify the imbalanced nature of the body and derive proper treatments.”

TCM treatment takes into account a wide variety of factors like the nature of the illness — whether it is caused by “cold” or “heat”, but also affected organs like the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and spleen. In TCM, the functions of these organs are different from Western standards. For instance, the kidney is responsible for functions like controlling human reproduction, growth and development, producing marrow and even the lustre of one’s hair.

In addition, the physician also looks at the relationship between the factors that cause the infection or disease such as “wind”, “cold”, “heat”, “fire” and “dampness”. TCM is also used in the treatment of conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergic sinusitis, eczema and even bedwetting in kids.

"[TCM] not only helps you to restore and enhance your health, but also teaches you to balance your life, so as so to be in harmony with others and the environment ― to prevent the future diseases.”

At which age can parents safely let their kids undergo TCM treatment?
Kids as young as 6 months old can undergo TCM treatment.  The treatment mainly involves TCM infant massage and oral medication. We also customise the TCM dosage according to the ages of the kids.

How do you help ease the fears of your patients? 
Fear happens when there are doubts and uncertainty. So, I will answer any doubts and concerns that the patients may have to ease their fears. During the treatment process, I’ll let them know what we are doing and why. Very often, the patients fear the pain from the acupuncture. I will show them the needles and let them know that acupuncture needles are sterilised and disposable, they are so thin that most people feel nothing more than a slight tingling sensation when they are inserted.

How about young patients?
[Children tend to] fear strangers and injections. Very often, we have to let them know that TCM don’t [involve] injecting them. To help their child feel secure, the parent can carry them or [distract] them [with a] movie on the phone while we perform TCM infant massage. For oral medication, some herbal medicines are sweet and the kids have no problem taking it. If the child finds difficulties taking the herbal drink, honey can be added or it can be taken together with milk, or the child can be given a sweet after the herbal drink.

How can parents help make your job easier?
It will be helpful if the parents can brief their child about TCM treatment, so that they are mentally prepared without fear. 

Is it safe to take TCM and Western meds at the same time? Read on…