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Skeptic Offers Huge Reward to Debunk Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted: 10/13/2014 1:51 pm

chinese medicine pulse takingThe clash between Eastern and Western cultures is no more apparent than in the practicing of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a lifestyle passed down through multiple generations that focuses upon holistic healing through adjusting imbalances in the body.

For all the claims traditional Chinese medicine makes, it’s said to have the practical ability of determining whether a woman is pregnant just by feeling the prospective mother’s pulse.

This has become a point of contention for a popular Chinese doctor of Western medicine who has issued a RMB 50,000 reward to anyone who can prove he is wrong in saying “Chinese medicine is a fake science”.

A popular Weibo personality and burn injury specialist in Beijing, Ah Bao, doesn’t believe TCM doctors have this ability. Using his own money to back up his claims, Ah Bao has challenged TCM doctors to maintain an 80 percent accuracy rate of diagnosing pregnant women in a “debunking contest”..

Ah Bao has encouraged other “amateur scientists and enthusiasts” to add to the reward, an amount that is now over RMB 100,000.

A challenger has emerged to protect the pride of TCM. Beijing doctor of Chinese medicine Yang Zhen accepted the challenge shortly after it was issued.

yang zhen

Beijing Doctor of Chinese medicine Yang Zhen

Both parties are currently discussing the terms of the contest, which will likely include 32 women to be used as test subjects. The challenger will be separated by a curtain from his patients, and will be tasked with determining which of them are pregnant solely through checking their pulse.

With the hype building, this contest may in fact turn into a Mexican showdown with another party willing to join the fray. Not only does Chengdu TCM doctor Lu Jilai want to participate, he wants to raise the stakes and make it into a single-player elimination tournament:

Not only should we have to determine if they are pregnant or not, but we should also be able to determine how many days are left for a woman until her next period.

ah bao chinese medicine debunk contest

A Jishuitan, Beijing burn injury doctor and famous Weibo personality Ah Bao

Having written a 600-page book in 2006 explaining why Chinese medicine isn’t fake, Lu wants to make the results of this contest more authoritative by adding patients to the testing pool with a litany of ailments that include cancer, hepatitis B, and rheumatism.

Lu hasn’t yet been officially invited to take part in the contest, but he hopes it will help people better understand Chinese and Western medicine. Ah Bao also said no matter what the outcome of this contest is, it will be very meaningful.

Photos: Sina Newsnipic


Setting Yourself On Fire? It’s a Form of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Posted: 06/11/2014 11:39 am

fire therapy chinese medicine acupuncture

It might be called therapy, but it sure doesn’t look relaxing.

The photo above, of a man’s crotch on fire, is one of several that have surfaced online depicting “fire therapy”, a kind of Chinese medicine. But even though the treatment originates here, even Chinese netizens are aghast at the photos that have been posted online.

fire therapy chinese medicine acupuncture

Wenzhou Sina News was the first to publish images of a person with two feet sticking out from a pile of towels that were set on fire. Even after it was explained as a form of therapy, many netizens continued to voice their shock and bemusement on Weibo:

Is this regulation service?

And I was thinking, ‘Why is he setting his penis on fire?’ [laughingface.emo]


Sir, how well would you like your meat cooked?

Oh my goodness! Seeing this picture fill my computer screen just made me feel ill! It looks like that man is enjoying himself, the crotch of his pants have caught fire. Who isn’t scared when looking at this?

“Fire therapy” is an old Chinese medicine technique that uses the same principles as baguan (fire cupping technique) and acupuncture..

fire therapy chinese medicine acupunctureAs reported by Guangming Network, the key to this practice is the “fire rope”, which is made out of some 20 different types of Chinese herbal grasses. The procedure begins by placing the fire rope on the patient’s body, which is covered by a translucent wrap to guard against the heat. Placed on top of the wrap are two wet towels. Alcohol is then poured on top and set alight. The procedure must be performed three times.

fire therapy chinese medicine acupuncture

fire therapy chinese medicine acupuncturefire therapy chinese medicine acupuncture

Fire therapy professionals stress there are important safety procedures to follow: first, the fire must occur at the correct acupuncture point to be effective; secondly, there must be a wet towel held by an attendant right next to the open fire; third, contact must be maintained with the client at all times; and finally, the fire must be extinguished immediately if the patient believes it’s too hot.

One “fire therapy” victim patient described the treatment this way:

It’s a warm and comfortable feeling. I feel a warmth soaking into my body.

For such an established Chinese procedure, fire therapy doesn’t seem to be familiar to the younger Weibo generation. One expressed her surprise when she saw it:

fire therapy chinese medicine acupuncture

Shocking scene from a beauty parlor: A person burned alive—apparently, this is a technique in Chinese medicine. Has anyone seen this before?

While foreigners have taken to acupuncture and other traditional Chinese procedures, it may take a while before fire therapy really catches on outside of China.

Photos: Yangcheng Evening Report, Wenzhou Sina News, Weibo


Zhuhai Customs Seize Four Tons of Endangered Pangolins

Posted: 05/14/2014 1:39 pm

smuggled pangolin endangered species illegalCustom agents in Zhuhai, Guangdong made a seizure of approximately four tons of smuggled pangolin on May 12, reports the Yangcheng Evening Report.

Acting on a tip, police stopped a truck on the pronvicial highway near Guangchang and seized 956 frozen pangolin carcasses, each individually bubble wrapped and housed in 189 cases.

pangolinThe pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, is classified as a type-2 endangered animal in China, and no trade in pangolin species is permitted under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Dan Challender, an expert in the species at the University of Kent in Britain, states there is a belief pangolin consumption will stimulate lactation for breast-feeding mothers, or serve to help patients recover from asthma or cancer.

“The overarching narrative for pangolin trade is that the Chinese population of pangolins has suffered dramatic declines over the last 20 years at least,” Challender said. “But at the same time an even more contemporary trend is that source has shifted west. There’s now trade coming from India, Nepal and Pakistan.”

Pangolins are reported to command a price of RMB 100 in Southeast Asia, after which will rise three to five times by the time it reaches black markets in Guangdong.smuggled pangolin endangered species illegal

Photos: Yangcheng Evening Report, Cutest Paw


Bear torture company targeted by animal rights activists in Shenzhen

Posted: 03/1/2012 8:57 am

After China bear-bile producer Gui Zhen Tang recently sparked a storm of public criticism following media reports of the means used by the company to extract bile from bears, and then won approval to list on the Shenzhen stock exchange, the company’s Shenzhen branch on Bao’an Rd. in Luohu district was targeted by animal rights activists this past weekend, reports Southern Metropolis Daily.


Most of the animal rights defenders wore black bear-shaped masks, handing out photos of ‘bile bears’ to passersby outside Gui Zhen Tang’s office. Their cause, widely supported by the public, is to stop the bile-extraction-through-torture, a practice they say also damages the reputation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

One of protesters, dressed up as black bear, portrayed the whole process of how bile is extracted from live bears: crawling on the ground while green ribbons—as a symbol of bear bile, were continuously “extracted” from his “gall bladder” by others involved.

Many local Chinese medicine doctors also reject the use of bear bile as an anti-inflammatory drug or to treat gall stones and liver ailments, saying “other ingredients can be used to completely replace [bear bile].”

The newspaper also reports that a heckler soon appeared and tried to refute the animal rights activists, but his voice was quickly drowned out.

See more photos from the protest here.

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