• Short Summary

    Chinese medicine, long used by the Chinese in Hong Kong, is slowly being phased out as western medicine becomes more popular and acceptable.

  • Description

    Chinese medicine, long used by the Chinese in Hong Kong, is slowly being phased out as western medicine becomes more popular and acceptable.

    The gradual change-over is largely attributed to the increasing costs of Chinese medicine and the uncertainty of supply. In the last couple of years prices of medicinal herbs have gone up four-fold. Only last year, the prices doubled.

    Hong Kong herbalists import most of their supplies from The People's Republic of China and they are supplemented with those from South Korea. The Korean supplies are mainly of ginseng, a root from a plant known for its medicinal values, rather then other herbs.

    There's still a wide variety of herbs available in the Colony. Some estimates put it at around 10,000 different herbs -- many of these can be found in the Colony itself.

    But business for the herbalist and the Chinese physician is declining because of the changing habits of many younger Hong Kong people. Education and modernisation in the Colony have helped them reject many of the prejudices against western medicine.

    And for practical reasons, Hong Kong Chinese are now using Western medicines because they are readily available and cheaper.

    SYNOPSIS: In Hong Kong, where traditions die hard, there are many, particularly the older generations who still believe that Chinese medicine is safer and more reliable. These people prefer to consult a physician rather than a western trained doctor about their illnesses. They are prepared to pay more for the service of the physician, who is trained to diagnose an illness from taking the pulse of the patient.

    But they're a dying breed which explains why their fees are usually higher then the ordinary doctors. Many of those who run a Chinese medicine hall - as they are known to the Hong Kong Chinese -- do not have the full training of their predecessors, largely because they lack experience to the decline of demand for their service.

    Countless varieties of herbs usually form the backbone of Chinese medicine. But ingredients as bizarre as rhinoceros' horns, antlers, dried lizards, dried sea horses and the gall of snakes are also used.

    Many Chinese prefer to consult a traditional physician about sprains and the dislocation of bones. This is usually because they dislike the plaster casing used by Western doctors.

    Making a potion or a paste from Chinese medicine is a laborious process involving careful weighing and mixing of several ingredients which often have to be pounded to powder.

    However, when this child grows up he may join the ranks of those who prefer Western medicine. Education and the rapid urbanisation of the Colony has changed the life style and other traditional values of the Chinese.

    The change in tradition has been hastened by problems of supply. The People's Republic of China supplies the bulk of the materials -- but there's always uncertainty on the delivery coupled with unexpected price increases.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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