Traditional Chinese Medicine, in Pictures


Hello again, everyone! I’ve now been in Beijing for three weeks and I feel very comfortable in the city – at least in the section around the University! I’ve navigated subways, buses, and taxis by myself in a strange city where I don’t speak the language well, and have even had (very) short conversations with sales people and taxi drivers (as long as they don’t speak too fast, of course). I miss brown rice, which doesn’t seem to exist here. Fried rice is found in abundance, however 😉 I’ve also experimented with some new breakfasts, such as this delicious yogurt:

Most yogurts here are drinkable, such as the one I featured in my last post. This yogurt is not for fat-avoiders – there’s also no such thing as low fat or nonfat yogurt in the grocery stores. Small portions, people, small portions.

I’ve also gotten used to the “special” toilets found in China (and elsewhere):

I won’t go into more detail about them. Suffice to say that I’m glad I’m a fairly strong runner. Feel free to ask me about them if you’d like 🙂

I thought I’d show you a bit of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I won’t give background on this ancient practice, so check out the link above for a great summary.

We had the opportunity to visit one of Peking University’s hospital to watch our professor practice TCM on his patients. As usual, this will mostly be a photo essay/montage.

Inside the hospital. No air-conditioning, so it was HOT.

Collection of physicians’ teas. If we were in the U.S., this cart would have a collection of Starbucks coffee cups:

Cupping cups:

We watched our professor perform acupuncture on some patients. The patient I saw had been suffering from insomnia. After receiving acupuncture, he fell asleep very quickly and was heard snoring in the hospital room! Of course, he may have just been exhausted 🙂 Our professor gave one of us acupuncture in a “safety” point (note: this is NOT my arm – also, if you’re squeamish at all about any kind of needle, avert your eyes from the next picture):

Our professor also performed acupressure on some of us. One important TCM theory states that problems occurring in the body will often show up on your surface (i.e. your skin), and that they can also be treated from the surface. For example, different parts of the ear correspond to different area of the body. By applying pressure, internal problems can be resolved.

Tiny seeds that will help create pressure at certain points in the ear when taped to the skin:

Our professor treating a woman suffering from constipation:

Like I mentioned in this post, TCM is a slower medicine, so patients often return several times for treatment. For people with mild conditions who prefer a non-drug approach, these TCM practices can help. (Of course, herbal medicine is a different story. I might devote a whole post to that later.)

When the professor looked at my ear, he said I looked very healthy and that there was nothing to treat (yes!). He ended up applying a pressure point to the area that prevents/relieves headaches.

Cool! I walked around with the tape on for a few days and blended right into the crowd 🙂

Some pictures of an herb-collecting trip on Ling Mountain in the Beijing countryside (no, that is not an oxymoron):

Yes, we hiked to the top of the mountain.
At the top!

A few random images from nighttime in Beijing:

Who knew a city could have such beauty?

Finally, one for fun:

In our local grocery store.

I’m signing off for now – stay tuned for a personal Jessie-led tour of some of Beijing’s most thrilling sights, a (possible) introduction to herbal medicine, and, of course, FOOD! I hope everyone is doing well in their parts of the world! 🙂


  1. Glad that you’ve adjusted so well despite the language barrier. Love the pictures of the hospital. I have always been fascinated by acupuncture!

  2. Being immersed like that in a different culture is just amazing — you get to learn so much so fast. It sounds like you’re having an amazing time! From the little bit I’ve heard about TCM it sounds very interesting.

  3. I am really enjoying reading the posts of your adventures. Those toilets look…different. Wonderful photos.

    Be Well

  4. With regard to those toilets and you running I’m guessing you’re like Finch on American Pie. You can’t use them and run to a “normal” one? 🙂
    Been interesting and educational so far. 2 more weeks right?

  5. Jessie! It’s always good to hear from you! It took me a while but I totally get your toilet joke. No, I’m obviosly not the sharpest tool in the shed. I think I only understood the joke cause I’ve actually tried squating over those dang toilets. You’re too funny girl. Another benefit to running haha. Once I actually thought the women there wore skirts so they it’d be easier going to the washroom. Actually a part of me still thinks that lol. Ok enough washroom talk.

    Acupuncture and TCM is so interesting. Remember I told you I tried acupuncture for my back prob? Surprisingly, he actually stuck the needles in my stomach rather than my back. I thought that was strange.

    Everytime I see those mountains in China, I always think of those Lingzhi mushrooms. Did you guys talk about those in your classes? Those seem really interesting too. Anyways, this is turning into a really long comment. Oh, you should ask your prof about your problem with sleeping. Glad you’re having a good time and learning so much. Take good care Jessie 😀

  6. ROFL Those squat pans are still quite common in Asia, even for uber cosmopolitan Singapore. Hahaha – a great reminder of our roots, no matter how hard we try to bury them under a veneer of modern, gleaming steel and glass, spit and polish! Too, too funny LOL

    Love being on this journey with you Jessie – thanks for the great pics!

  7. Very neat. Glad to hear you are nice and healthy 🙂 I had a chiropractor once tell me I had no issues, then a month later a different one told me I needed some serious work done! Sometimes I wonder about things like that..and this….but from what you say (the insomnia guy snoring), maybe it DOES work?!
    Glad you are enjoying your time!! Boo to fried rice, but hey, it’s obviously not hurting them!

  8. Wow! What an incredible experience you’re having!! 🙂 Too bad they don’t eat much brown rice… maybe that’s a japanese thing?? Great pictures, I’d love to try out accupuncture and see the results for myself. Sounds like fun to me!! 🙂

  9. THIS IS SO AMAZING!! ive been to a TCM doctor here but always dreamed of traveling to experience ‘the real thing’ uno? I love the thousands of years of tradition and philosophy that TCM is based around. its quite fascinating! so excited you were able to experience it first hand! thanks for loading the pics for us to see! THey’re fantastic!

    xoxo <3

  10. Haha, that’s awesome that the doctor said there was nothing to treat you for. That’s clearly because Jessie is the walking picture of health. Physically and mentally! You’re amazing. 🙂

    Judging by your description of TCM, it kind of sounds like naturopathy! Well, at least, one vein of it. Acupuncture still kind of creeps me out, I have to admit, even though I know there has been recent research done on it that supports the practice!

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to your next post–in the meantime, best wishes with those toilets.

    xo Aletheia

  11. Hey Jessie,
    I had no idea it was your husband writing that last post…I guess I was way behind on the joke! Oops.

    I loved this post about acupuncture and chinese medicine…because I’m in the process of doing it right now so the subject really interests me. I am getting acupuncture about once a week for relief of stomach/digestive pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, etc. I also use those little tape things that you had on your ears..I put them on my wrists to ease anxiety. I’m not sure if it works, but it sounds pretty cool in theory. I’ve found that acupuncture has helped a little bit with my insomnia and I’m hoping that as I continue to go, it will help more.
    As for the Chinese toilet…I’ve seen one of those once! I was in Chinatown in Toronto. I was very intimidated. And confused. (“Why is the toilet seat on the ground?”) I’m happy you’ve adjusted to that, as well as the language barrier and everything else. Hope you continue to enjoy your stay!

  12. Oooh, your photos of the countryside are stunning! I’m really curious about acupuncture. I like the idea of it and is seems to make a lot of sense, but I’ve heard such mixed things about it. I suppose it really depends on the practitioner – you really have to know what you’re doing! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your fabulous adventures! Enjoy 🙂

  13. Wow, it sounds like you are having such an amazing time and seeing so much! The pictures of the country are beautiful…

    Your lessons on TCM/acupuncture/pressure sound really interesting. I’ve been fascinated with TCM since my dad did acupuncture a few years ago with great results. The naturopath I saw earlier this year also relies a lot on TCM methodology, and I totally buy into it – these people have been using these techniques for thousands of years! Very cool.

    Interested to hear more! Hugs 🙂

  14. Ohh that toilet reminds me of one I had the pleasure of using in Greece once. I’m still vaguely traumatised by it.

    I just love seeing your pictures and reading of your adventures. Such stunning countryside.

    I’m fascinated by TCM…look forward to hearing more about it.

  15. Thanks for checking in. I love hearing about your travels. Why are the toilets everywhere else so odd. haha.
    I have heard many good things about acupuncture. I have never gotten it done myself. Very interesting.
    Can’t wait to hear (and see) more!

  16. What an amazing tour! Beautiful beautiful landscape – breathtaking. I loved the doctor’s teas…. and learning about the cupping cups… and I have had acupuncture. Worked well. Great experience for you (and me through you) what a wonderful opportunity. And that you can now communicate, too… Keep these posts coming. I am slow to reply now as it is year end at school – but

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