Friday, May 12, 2006

SARS 2003 in China

In 2003 SARS spread widely; there were 5,200 cases of SARS in China, whereas the death toll was only 7%, the lowest in the world. Principal of China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Beijing, Prof. Cao Hong-Xin (HongXin) said during an interview that: “The low death toll of 7% is related to application of traditional Chinese medicine in China in treatment of SARS. The later patients at Beijing Xiao Tang Shan SARS hospital all got well mostly because of the use of Chinese medicine.”

He said everyone realized that antibiotics were not effective at that time. The so-called “supportive treatment” of Chinese medicine played an important role in enhancing body immune system, ability to fight virus, stabilizing situations and in preventing cases from deteriorating. According to Prof. Cao, China has a long history of conquering acute viral epidemics, contagious epidemics for 5 thousand years. SARS definitely was not the first.

In the history of human beings there have been thousands cases of contagious epidemics. Death tolls of Europe Black Plaque went up to tens of millions. But in China, none of those epidemics caused more than 5 million lives. One of the reasons was due to the fact that Chinese medicine was able to come in with “supportive treatment” even before the cause of the disease was known.

The major symptoms of SARS are fever, cough and muscle pains. By taking pulse and reading the tongue TCM doctors are able to write down the prescriptions and stop the virus from spreading. This unique characteristic of Chinese medicine is most suitable for eruption of acute diseases. Western medicine has to locate the pathogen first before prescribing medicine; without known pathogens, no drugs can be used. This happened when SARS first broke out where western medicine doctors didn’t know the cause and therefore was clueless to help.

During the treatment of SARS with western medicine, there were side effects of osteonecrosis,osteoarthropathy,steroid-related diseases, DM and etc. With application of Chinese medicine in SARS, it’s recognized by WHO (Who Health Organization) as a safe way.

Prof. Cao has been attracted to “miraculous” TCM since young and decided to pursue the studies when he grew up. Since the age of 14 years old, he’s taken the initiative to read TCM books. After graduation from high school at 18, he went to Heilongjiang College of TCM. He was a gifted child as he got his Ph. D. as a relatively young age. At the age of 37, in 1995, he became the vice principal of Heilongjiang College of TCM, the youngest ever. In 1999, at the age of 41, he became the headmaster of Heilongjiang University of TCM, the youngest ever. When he was transferred to Beijing to be the principal of China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Beijing, he was the youngest principal in 50 years. He specialized in liver diseases in his Master program and kidney diseases in his Ph. D. program. After Ph. D., he worked on stomach diseases.

According to Prof. Cao, there are 4 major categories of diseases affecting human beings, and TCM is effective in all these diseases. They are: 1) Cardiac diseases (Stroke, heart diseases), 2) Tumors (Various cancers), 3) Viral diseases (SARS, AIDS, and Hepatitis), 4) Metabolistic Immune diseases (DM) and etc. These diseases are related closely to stress, diet, working environment and so on. Besides these diseases that can cause pain, there are other diseases such as insomnia, depression, aggregation which can also be treated effectively with Chinese medicine.

Prof. Cao said: “70% of the people are not healthy these days. They’re just sub-healthy. In order for people to be really healthy, in TCM, we call it “treating diseases before they happen”. Prevention is better than cure. There are many methods such as Qigong, TaiJi, dietary plan, Tuina, Emotional therapy and many others (like yoga).

Glossary: SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Beijing Xiao Tang Shan SARS hospital, China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Beijing, Prof. Cao Hong-Xin (HongXin).


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John Lew