Seventy percent of Taiwanese have consulted traditional medicine doctors at some point in their life, according to a survey released yesterday by a local magazine.
About 55 percent of females and 68 percent of patients over the age of 40 said they had sought treatment at traditional medicine clinics, said Lin Chen-tsen (林貞岑) of Common Health Magazine.
She said people seek traditional medicine for a variety of illnesses, with bone and muscle pains topping the list at 64 percent, followed by flu, menstrual irregularities, recuperation and acupuncture.
“But despite the popularity of traditional medicine in Taiwan, there are some misconceptions,” Lin said.
For example, 63 percent of the respondents in the poll believed that women must eat a decoction called si wu tang (四物湯), a traditional herbal medicine composed of four basic herbal elements, to replenish the blood after their menstrual period, Lin said.
The poll also found that 86 percent of people think traditional medicine can only invigorate the body, while Western medicine can effectively target problem areas.
In response, Chen Wang-chuan (陳旺全), a traditional medicine doctor, said si wu tang consists of four basic herbal elements, but the proportions need to be modified according to the patient’s symptoms and complaints in order to be fully effective.
Since traditional medicine could cause side effects and complications, all patients should consult a certified doctor before taking herbal remedies, Chen said.
“You shouldn’t just walk into a supermarket, buy the ingredients and eat them,” he said, emphasizing that herbal treatments do have medicinal effects.
“There are limits to every kind of medical treatment,” Chen said.
Traditional medicine, if applied properly, can supplement Western medicine, he added.
“The difference between the two approaches lies in the diagnostic process and drugs, but our goals are the same — to make people healthy again,” Chen said.
The survey, conducted from April 2 to April 7, drew responses from 1,080 people aged 20 and over. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.