Some in the teeming city of seven million are turning away from the traditional flu jab in favour of Chinese herbal treatments. Bian Zhao Xiang, director of the Chinese medicine clinic at Hong Kong’s Baptist University, said the number of flu patients at the clinic increased by 37 percent in the latter part of last year compared to the same period in 2009.
The university plans to build a HK$800 million (US$100 million) teaching hospital that would provide the city’s first in-patient Chinese medicine treatment.
“Chinese medicine is by far a better treatment for seasonal flu (compared to Western medicine), in terms of its effectiveness, side effects and symptom control,” he said. “In Chinese medicine, every patient will receive a personalised, tailor-made set of treatments specific to their body type.”
Hong Kong is particularly nervous about infectious diseases, with at least 12 lives lost since the end of January to the deadly swine flu strain of the disease. Dozens have been admitted to intensive care units with flu of some kind this year.
Officials from the city, which has some of the most densely packed neighbourhoods in the world, have been nervous since the 2003 SARS virus outbreak which killed 300 people in Hong Kong and another 500 around the world. There is little concrete evidence of Chinese medicine’s effectiveness as a flu killer, but many in the city and across China swear it works.
I am a fan of the powdered honeysuckle and forsythia, to keep the body’s Han (cold) and Re (hot) energies in harmony, and a healthy diet and acupuncture but snake-fermented wine for arthritis, snake genitals for the kidneys and male sex drive, snake gall bladder for bronchitis will never appeal to me!