January 27, 2016 397
Dr. Angela: It’s always my ambition to become a doctor since I was young. My mother is a TCM professor in Hong Kong. Together with her other three sisters, they give big encouragement for me to study TCM. They are my biggest influence. Even though I actually got hotel management course in my university, but I ended up taking medicine as well.
GetDoc: What are the things you think people should know about TCM?
Dr. Angela: Actually Chinese Medicine is very expensive as compared to Western Medicine, as it may not cost even RM 1.00 for 1 week’s Western Medicine prescription. Chinese medicine is natural herbal, it’s different from Western Medicine which is produced by chemical. Chinese medicine tends to more expensive due to longer timeline needed to produce.
GetDoc: Can you tell me what the difference between Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine is?
Dr. Angela: We will become your family doctor as we will study thoroughly your family history, your medical history, then only we will prescribe the medicine, it’s not like Western medicine, they will just prescribe one and the same medication. Before prescribing medicine, I have to understand everything about the patient including the lifestyle, so I can customize the medication according to patient’s condition.
We have become family doctor, and many patients have become our regular customers when they will come back for conditioning. Conditioning is effective when you are tackling the disease before it becomes worse, as TCM always go to the root cause of the problem and treat it. TCM is good to treat sub-health conditions – a stage where Chinese believes you are neither at the stage of sick or healthy.
For the past 10 years, World Health Organization (WHO) has been strongly promoting TCM after realizing and recognizing the benefits of TCM. There are also a lot research papers done by foreigners, especially European countries like Germany. They did thorough researches and study to support the effectiveness of TCM.
GetDoc: So in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Chinese Medicine practitioner is not being looked up too as well?
Dr. Angela: No, actually just Malaysia. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, Western Medicine is combined with TCM. We need to work in operation theatre in Beijing, because they believe Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine complement each other. For example, a cancer patient can receive TCM care programme after he went through chemotherapy. It’s the same in China. But I’m surprised it’s not yet implemented in Malaysia.
GetDoc: Do you think it’s possible to combine both in Malaysia?
Dr. Angela: I think slowly yes. It takes time to educate Western Medicine doctors. Some will reject the idea by citing that TCM will affect their rice bowl. However, this is unavoidable. For patients’ welfare, I think both have to come together as Western and TCM have their own advantages and disadvantages. I think Malaysia is still lacking behind. Singapore is catching up, they are modelling Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
GetDoc: Where can patient search for TCM information?
Dr. Angela: Online. Right now I think TCM education is even more common, even local university like Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) has a TCM department, which setup only one or two years ago. We are seeing some Malay students studying TCM. There is certainly a trend of improvement.
GetDoc: What other works have you done other than giving TCM consultation?
Dr. Angela: We were invited to give some lectures to students in UMMC. I also went on TV to give some TCM advices.
GetDoc: Any challenges you face as foreigners practicing Chinese medicine here in Malaysia?
Dr. Angela: Yes. Some patients are already used to visit the usual TCM centre they have been visiting since they were young, and it’s hard for them to switch. There is also a trend that the older generation of TCM will pass the business to younger generation.
GetDoc: What are the common pitfalls you notice in current TCM industry in Malaysia?
Dr. Angela: There are some practitioners didn’t have license, but they still able to operate.
GetDoc: What is the most challenging case you have dealt with so far?
Dr. Angela: We have treated a lot challenging cases. However, most satisfying one is fertility. There are a lot couples able to conceive after few treatments at our centres, and it’s satisfying when they bring their babies to see us. (Laughs) And you’ll be surprise that a lot of Malay couples came to see me, they even told me ‘I feel comfortable to consult your service’. Actually Victor also can treat fertility case, however given that I’m female doctor, it’s easier for me to get closer with patients, and ask them detailed questions. I need to ask detailed questions to find out the real reason of infertility, some information are quite personal and sensitive.
Other than that, I can treat depression. My final year project was on depression, and it’s my specialization. When I studied at Waseda University in Japan, my specialization is pain management, for example cancer pain. Right now patients can have surgery without anesthesia, just by using acupuncture. Acupuncture can control your pain endurance, it’s beneficial for those who are sensitive to anesthesia.
GetDoc: What other diseases you treat?
Dr. Angela: If you have headache now, I can use acupuncture to stop the ache. You no need to eat pain killer. Acupuncture also can treat period pain with immediate effect.
GetDoc: How long is the treatment effect?
Dr. Angela: It can last quite some time. Acupuncture is for immediate effect, to prevent the same pain for next time, I will recommend conditioning (调理身体). Acupuncture is actually faster than taking medicine, and the best thing about it is that, it doesn’t have side effect, maybe it’s faster than pain killer. I would say acupuncture’s effect is better than painkiller. If you have trouble sleeping at night, acupuncture can help you sleep better as well.
GetDoc: How will you advise patients to look for suitable doctor?
Dr. Angela: I think it’s good to look up for some referrals. I won’t encourage patients to shop around for doctors or to try out doctors as it’s human body we are talking about.
GetDoc: What’s your usual medical practice?
Dr. Angela: I don’t like to give medication to patients, some patients like it, but some will ask me ‘why you didn’t give me medication?’ Actually some patients just need enough rest and water to recover, and medication in this case won’t be necessary. Unfortunately, it has become a Malaysians’ habit to ask for medication. I don’t encourage patients to deal with every diseases with medication, especially children. The adverse effect is your body will get used to the medication and lose its own power to fight the diseases, and your body will force to take stronger medication the next time when you are unwell to see the effect.
Even in TCM we also will control the dosage. For first time patients that never taken medication before, I will reduce the dosage to half.
GetDoc: Other than medication, what other advice will you give patient?
Dr. Angela: TCM believes that food can cure diseases as well. I will give some simple advices, which is suitable for everyone. Previously I advise on TV. Some food can cure diseases, for example leek is helpful in treating impotence.
Yes, some patients have taken my advice, and noticed the improvement in their health, we don’t necessary have to deal every diseases with medicine.
GetDoc: Will your patient Whatsapp you for some remedies?
Dr. Angela: Yes, so we are pretty busy. (laughs)
GetDoc: What are the common habits that you think Malaysians have that is detrimental to their health?
Dr. Angela: They love spicy food, and it causes the body weak. Your body will send some signals, you will want to eat some spicy food to satisfy. I will ask them to stop eating spicy. You can enjoy spicy food, however not every meal, as TCM wants everyone to reach balance. Not asking patients to cut down spicy food completely, but don’t savour every meal. And every female like to drink icy drinks, then you will have lesser period pain.
To know more about Dr Angela Poon, kindly check here
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Qian's interest in healthcare industry came about after her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. This experience has led her to become a strong believer in empowering individuals to take charge of their own health. View all articles by Qian.