Traditional Chinese medicine centres see more children

Ellie Lee, six, receiving treatment at Yu Guo under the watchful eye of her mum and sister. The clinic is usually crowded (above) with parents and children on weekday nights. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO
Ellie Lee, six, receiving treatment at Yu Guo under the watchful eye of her mum and sister. The clinic is usually crowded (above) with parents and children on weekday nights. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO
Ellie Lee, six, receiving treatment (above) at Yu Guo under the watchful eye of her mum and sister. The clinic is usually crowded with parents and children on weekday nights. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO
Ellie Lee, six, receiving treatment (above) at Yu Guo under the watchful eye of her mum and sister. The clinic is usually crowded with parents and children on weekday nights. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO

Parents turning to them, especially for conditions for which Western medicine has no treatment

One would think this place in Kembangan was a preschool or tuition centre, as it is usually crowded with children and their parents on a weekday night.

But they are actually waiting their turn at Yu Guo Chinese Physician Acupuncture and Physiotherapy, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic offering tui na or Chinese therapeutic massage.

As soon as the clinic opens for its evening session at 6.30pm, its seven massage beds fill up. Many of the patients are babies and toddlers receiving tui na or Chinese therapeutic massage for conditions such as coughs and colds, or colic.

Although much of TCM has yet to be scientifically proven, more parents are turning to it, especially in cases for which Western medicine has no treatment, like colic, or if they think their children are not getting better after seeing a general practitioner.

Yu Guo and Herbal-Basic TCM Clinic are two clinics mentioned often in online forums such as KiasuParents and SingaporeMotherhood.

Set up in 1986, Yu Guo sees an average of 100 children every weekday, an increase of 15 to 20 per cent from five years ago. On Sunday mornings, it is open for just 31/2 hours, during which time it sees about 90 young patients.

Herbal-Basic TCM Clinic was set up in 2010 for adults and children, but switched to become a TCM paediatric clinic in 2011. At the time, it had about 100 child patients a week. Now it has 300.

Other TCM centres such as Eu Yan Sang and Econ Chinese Medicine are also reporting an increase in young patients.

Ms Koh Yan Yock, a physician at Yu Guo, said the clinic also offers acupuncture and prescribes medication if it is needed.

Tui na is particularly popular among parents of infants and toddlers as it is non-invasive.

She said: "Parents have become more educated on its benefits. Some prefer this as it does not involve medication or injections."

Tui na, which literally means "push and grasp", aims to establish a more harmonious flow of qi (energy) through massage and hand manipulation techniques applied on various pressure points of the body. This is expected to allow the body to heal itself naturally.

Mr Benjamin Tan, director of Herbal-Basic TCM Clinic, said parents often seek help for colic, a condition in which a baby cries a lot usually at night, for unknown reasons, and common ailments like cough.

Fees for a tui na session typically range from $25 to $45.

Parents told The Sunday Times they see TCM as a complement to rather than a replacement for Western medicine.

Housewife Janet Ting took her three-year-old son for tui na when he was just two months old, when she was desperate to find something that would help his colic. She said he began to sleep better after a few sessions.

"I don't want my child to take too much medicine. But for peace of mind, I still take him to Western doctors. TCM is more of a supplement," said the 37-year-old.

Likewise, sushi chef Edwin Lim, 43, who took his son Clarence, 10, for tui na on Thursday to treat a cough, still goes to Western doctors, though he said the tui na was also effective.

Clarence, with one hand being massaged and another holding a piece of homework, said: "The tui na is quite comfortable, and not that ticklish."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg

 

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments