From Shanghai, with love: TCM doctors serving people of Malta
Doctors from Longhua Hospital, Shanghai University of TCM surprisingly found that the most popular traditional Chinese medicine service in Malta is for endocrine disorders, infertility and depression.
Located in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, 80 kilometers south of Italy, Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a beautiful island country with a history dating back to 5200 BC.
Many residents have weight issues.
"Overweight can lead to pain and soreness in the back and waist," said Cheng Lei, a doctor skilled in TCM massage therapy who served in the Malta TCM center from April 2018 to May 2020.
A TCM center in Malta University, in collaboration with Shanghai University of Tradition Chinese Medicine, has been in operation since 2015. Doctors from the Longhua Hospital are proving professional assistance at the center to local residents.
"TCM is now quite popular among the Maltese, especially acupuncture and pain-relieving medicinal massage," Cheng said.
TCM treatments prove to be effective on dozens of complaints related to aches and pains, internal organ disorders, immunological diseases, skin problems and also weight issues.
Zhang Min, who is in Malta now, said Maltese patients commonly seek help for physical pains, infertility and depression.
"A patient came for help with acute lumbar muscle sprain, who was almost immobile," Zhang said. "It was even difficult for him to get on and off the treatment bed at the time."
After treatment, "he could move normally, with almost no pain. He exclaimed 'Amazing!' after the treatment," she told Shanghai Daily.
"Also, most of my patients response well to acupuncture. Those with insomnia got a lot better after only one treatment.
"For depression, I would recommend patients improve their diet and exercise first. Music and the aroma of citrus fruits are helpful," Zhang added.
A couple of figs every day is a prescription that Wang Xiao, a physician doctor from Longhua Hospital, gave to a Maltese patient after his acupuncture treatment.
"They are really good in relieving the swelling and bleeding caused by haemorrhoids without side effects," he explained.
Wang started to use local food to replace hard-to-source TCM herbal medicines to treat patients in Malta.
"Another food I recommended to some of my patients is yam, which could be purchased in Chinese or Asian stores," Wang said. "It greatly improved one of my Malta patients' symptoms of thirst and polyuria at night."
During his stay from 2016 to 2018, Wang spared no effort in looking for local food and plants with medical efficiency.
He also wrote down the functions of more than 30 kinds of food and locally grown herbs that can be used for treatment.
Zhang Yan, an acupuncture expert from Longhua Hospital, served in Malta from September 2016 to March 2018.
"They know about the center and they know about TCM," Zhang said. "But they have no idea what TCM can do for their health. So the results are important – as long as the patients recover, they will keep coming to us."
"A female patient came to me to ask for help as she was deeply troubled by infertility and depression," Zhang recalled.
"Through some acupuncture treatment to help adjust her emotional and physical condition, she finally got pregnant.
"We don't need to do special promotion – the results tell all."
There is consensuses among doctors returning from Malta – how powerful TCM methods and therapies are, and how much their own practices improved.
Every doctor who has been to Malta has his or her own good-at skills, just as football players have their own familiar positions.
But, when they arrived in Malta, they have become all-round players, solving problems from different areas of expertise.
Over two years ago when the COVID-19 broke out globally, Zhang Jiabao, a doctor in her 20s with a TCM background, was sent to the Malta TCM center.
She gained experiences that she said she will never forget.
"I enrolled in a volunteer team to collect nucleic acid samples during the early stage of the outbreak in Malta," Zhang said. "Those who came for testing were people who have already developed symptoms, like fever.
After the volunteer work, Zhang started providing online TCM consultations and telling people how to protect themselves from coronavirus.
"I can see that we have brought to Malta not only TCM treatments, but also Chinese culture and the Chinese spirit – caring, generous and warm-hearted."