Traditional Conduct Versus Modern Restrictions?

As our profession raises its standards according to Western thinking, it will potentially become more complex to work traditionally. As a Chinese herbalist, we imagine having a dispensary with 120-150 raw herbs all originating from traditional sources in China. Each patient we consult with, will receive a customized herbal formula, lovingly prepared. To measure each single ingredient, we envisage ourselves handling a brass weighing scale, touching every ingredient, inhaling their fragrance, sensing their healing power…

Since the board has released Chinese herbal dispensing guidelines late last year, a group opposed to complementary medicines launching unparalleled missions of attack and the scientific publication of DNA analysis and fingerprinting of Chinese herbs at three universities in South Australia late last year, we had a rough awakening.

We now have to comply with those guidelines. It’s not easy to change a style that has been part of our practice for some time. A way to do things that work well for us. Nonetheless, we have to embrace those new ways as in due course, we are made accountable for our actions.

The challenge lies between the traditional and the modern approach: a different language, unalike thinking, and perspectives at extreme ends. We are yet too divided not only within our industry but also across the entire medical field.

Our mission – to somehow marry the traditional with the modern – is a big task. We need to create and put aside resources. As we progress, we need to engage the public, educate those individuals and make sure our messages are understood. It will be important to liaise with authorities and regulatory bodies. It could be beneficial and professional to align ourselves with research facilities and work in hand with opinion leaders. In my opinion, our voice has to become stronger, firmer and more confident. After all, Chinese herbal medicine is our livelihood.

We need access to herbs such as Fu Zi (Aconite) and Ma Huang (Ephedrae) again! They are lifesaving substances and they can’t be substituted, their actions are too unique. So far, we have failed in advancing our progress with the task of scheduling those herbs. Perhaps because we have left it in someone else’s hands?

It’s ultimately up to us to stand united and for it to finally come to fruition. The consequences of those herbs (Fu Zi and Ma Huang) being illegal, opens scope for misconduct. It will put individuals and the future legal access of those herbs at risk. It will attract penalties, let alone the attention of our friends not only opposing but utterly rejecting complementary medicine. To them, it will be easy prey.

In essence, the traditional ways work for us but we need to lift our game and adjust our conduct to meet the individual’s 21st century’s expectations. We could form a task force, develop strategies and form alliances. The past is the past and the future is ahead of us, every moment of time. We can then regard our traditional ways as the right ways, be proud of them and not in any way feel restricted or alarmed by contemporaneousness.

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