Some TCM patients struggle without acupuncture, tui na during coronavirus circuit breaker period

Acupuncture, cupping, tui na and treatments that involve prolonged direct contact with patients are not allowed, said the Ministry of Health in a circular to TCM practitioners.
Acupuncture, cupping, tui na and treatments that involve prolonged direct contact with patients are not allowed, said the Ministry of Health in a circular to TCM practitioners.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Without regular acupuncture, Madam Lim Li Chin struggles to sleep comfortably at night.

Madam Lim, 50, told The New Paper she suffers from poor immunity, which leads to hives, high blood pressure and a thyroid problem.

Other than the usual medicine, she receives acupuncture at Ever Spring Medical Group up to three times a week.

Madam Lim, a nurse, said in Mandarin: "Because of my condition, it is hard for me to sleep because I get very itchy.

"Acupuncture helps me control this, and I can sleep better without needing sleeping pills."

Like other traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) patients, she is unable to continue with the treatment during the circuit breaker period as TCM services are limited to consultation and herbal treatment only.

Acupuncture, cupping, tui na and treatments that involve prolonged direct contact with patients are not allowed, said the Ministry of Health in a circular to TCM practitioners.

Ever Spring Medical Group founder Tan Bee Gawh said up to 50 per cent of her patients come to the clinic for acupuncture and tui na. The latter involves applying pressure to acupoints such as the temples and groups of muscles or nerves.

Dr Tan, 63, said in Mandarin: "For those with poor immune systems or thyroid problems, acupuncture helps stabilise their conditions by relieving pain and building immunity."

She said patients with dislocated limbs or muscle injuries are disadvantaged, as they have to wait for hours at hospitals for treatments that could be completed in a matter of minutes using acupuncture.

"Hospitals are now so packed, with long queues. I hope the authorities reconsider this matter," added Dr Tan.

 
 
 

Heritage TCM Clinic physician Tan Shiau Tse said 70 per cent of patients visit the clinic for acupuncture and tui na. She said some patients struggle without acupuncture, such as those recovering from a stroke.

"Their recovery will be significantly slower when they cannot receive acupuncture."

She added that cases like ankle sprains and nerve pain respond well to tui na, acupuncture or cupping.

Ms Lim Swee Cheng, general manager of clinic services and operational excellence at Eu Yan Sang, said around 12 per cent of its patients visited its clinics for such treatments before the circuit breaker measures kicked in.

She added that Eu Yan Sang provides phone consultations for existing patients with chronic conditions.

Patients can have medication delivered to them.

As for Madam Lim, she is relying on her medication, with the hope that the circuit breaker period will end promptly.