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  1. #1
    Scarab Lord Thekri's Avatar
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    It is time for Traditional Chinese Medicine to go.

    Caught up in the panic of the moment, the issue of "blame" for this virus keeps coming up. Certain people, including this current administration are using terms like "Chinese Virus" or "Kung Flu" to describe it, thus stapling the blame on Chinese people writ large, or possibly the Chinese government in particular.

    I am not intending this thread to be a nation bashing one, but I want to lay out the actual facts as we know them, and address what dangers a 70 year old Chinese government policy has on the world, how we got here, and what we must do to save ourselves from it. The first part is going to be context, skip to below the lines for the thesis statement.

    Context Stuff
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you look up Traditional Chinese Medicine, you will find a lot of claims like this one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cancer.gov
    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back more than 5000 years and has its origin in ancient Taoist philosophy
    This is cancer.gov no less, claiming it is 5,000 years old. Which is utter bullshit, the earliest Chinese civilizations that we have any record of only date back 3,000 years or so, and while there were certainly people in the Yellow river valley before that, we don't know anything about their medical practices, extending this an additional two millennia is absurdly irresponsible. "Traditional Chinese Medicine" has changed at adapted just as much as western medicine has, with earlier versions of it mostly focusing on exorcisms and such. While the ancient roots of TCM are interesting, they aren't really relevant to this conversation, the important takeaway is that it was a nearly completely separate branch of medicine then the Mediterranean/European/Middle Eastern branch of medicine, and it changed a lot within itself in the centuries it was practiced.

    The real story of "TCM" begins in 1949 (Here is a good article on the whole thing for more context). The Chinese Communist Party had just taken over mainland China, and they were facing a huge problem with their healthcare. Namely that they didn't have any. Mao Zedong was trying to build a modern nation, under near complete embargo from everyone, and there were hundreds of different healing systems, witch doctors, and local traditions all clashing across the nation. What Mao wanted was western medicine, which was exploding in efficiency at the time, due to all the medical tech that had been developed during the second world war. But he didn't have access to any of it. Instead, in 1950, Mao launched a project to modernize Traditional Chinese Medicine, which was supposed to be called "New Medicine", although that name didn't stick. The goal was to create some sort of healthcare, and also drive a nationalistic sense of Chinese autonomy as part of the Cultural Revolution. The outcome of this project is what we now call TCM. It was pure quackery from the beginning, but the propaganda machine drove it hard, and new age "Alternate Medicine" types ate it up from the beginning. It is full of superstition and supernatural cures for everything, some fundamental concepts are "Qi" which is life energy that can be transferred and manipulated, making it functionally identical to Star Wars "The Force", "Ying-Yang" as a medical concept, not a philosophical one, which is basically the old western concept of "Humors" rebranded, and most damaging, and most relevant to this problem, "The Five Elements".

    Most people are familiar with the concept of the Chinese Five Elements, (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal). In the context of TCM, everything ties into one of these elements, and it works basically like a 5 sided game of rock paper scissors. So if you have an aliment that is aligned with Fire, such as a burn, or a fever, then the cure would be something of elemental water that is more powerful then the elemental fire causing your fever. Notably, the most powerful carriers of this elemental power are something with a lot of "Qi" or life force, which often means some sort of animal. All animals are sorted into one of the five categories, so lets pick a Pig, which is aligned with the water element, and a common source of these cures for cheap. Now we need some part of a pig that is also aligned with water, so lets go with a Bladder. So a good TCM cure for your fever will be a Pigs bladder, which will of course have to be fresh to be effective.

    Now lets say you take this pigs bladder (Eat it, dry it and wear it, whatever they recommended). One of two things is going to happen, either the fever will go away (Which they usually do inside the recommended time anyway), which will reinforce your belief in the Healer, or it will not. If the later happens, the problem is that you didn't use a powerful enough Water elemental cure! Pigs don't have much Qi, you need something stronger! How about a Dragon? Specifically a water dragon, not a fire one. Lets use an Indian Gharial, a type of fish eating crocodile. They are very large, very powerful, and very rare, so they have tons of Qi. Of course they are very expensive, but they should do the trick!

    The Current Problem
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    So this is basically how it works in a much condensed form. Lets talk about what all this causes, and why. In order to provide the Pig's Bladders, Crocodile Kidney's, Tiger's Tongues, Rhino Horn and Pangolin scales needed for all this "Medicine", China runs the worlds largest illicit animal trade, which devastates the worlds endangered species. More to the point here, all this culminates in huge "Wet Markets" which are full of living animals that you can shop for, and get those organs fresh (And thus full of the needed Qi). So you have stacks and stacks of pigs sitting on top of dogs and snakes and bats, all defecating and vomiting on each other, because all of these animals are sick and mistreated. Instead of being a healthy place for medicine, they are veritable cesspools of disease, much like western hospitals were a century ago (And some arguably are now), but the specific danger they pose here is being the perfect place for diseases to leap from animal to human populations. With so many humans in contact with so many sick animals, that have been trafficked from all parts of the world, these Zoonotic disease start here all the time. SARS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, and now Covid-19, and that is just recently.

    The entire system was codified and created in the 1960s by a Communist Party that was an international pariah, in order to save face and basically use a nationwide placebo effect. Even Mao was well aware it didn't work. These needs are long gone, China has full access to modern medicine now, and is attempting to embrace it. But the propaganda machine drove it so deep into so many peoples consciousness, we are stuck with a devastating system that destroys our global wildlife populations and spits out deadly viruses in a truly unsustainable fashion. The Chinese government has taken tentative steps to discourage it, but has so far not taken firm steps to educate people and end these practices.

    The Bottom Line
    ---------------------
    One consequence of this outbreak has to be massive international pressure to end this outdated superstition, and abolish this animal trade forever. It is ineffective, immoral, and extremely dangerous to everyone. I don't particularly care about the Crystal healing, acupuncture, and scented teas, those are harmless (Unless you really believe they are going to cure your leukemia), but this wildlife trade has to end, and end now.

    Disclaimers
    --------------------
    This is NOT about nation bashing, please don't post anything attacking the Chinese people here. This is a serious problem that their government started 70 years ago, and has been slow to fix. So it is a policy problem, not a culture or racial problem. This thread also isn't about anything related to the actual spread of the virus, we have other threads for that. This is about something we need to do to stop these things from occurring in the future, and stop a major source of pandemic capable diseases.
    "We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine." DJT- Jan 22, 2020
    "And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done." DJT- Feb 26, 2020
    “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” DJT- Feb 27, 2020

  2. #2
    The parts that need to go are the parts that cause the spread of diseases and the parts that encourage the poaching of endangered animals. Whatever remains after removing those parts can stay.

  3. #3
    And what we gonna do about it?

    Snake oil for dimwits is being pushed worldwide. Just a month ago we had this case where some well known religious big wig with his army of loyal drones was indicted in fraud - what was the fraud?

    He basically sold some miracle cancer (and other ills) medicine to religious sick people with cancer and other serious diseases for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars that he and his cultists claimed to be a cure and people bought it. Until one of the patients died and family finally grew a brain and decided to sue and then others heard about it and joined up.

    So yes, the said "cure" ended up being Mentos candies. When the trial was going on his advocate told the judge that they need to suspend the hearings for the day because defendant is feeling ill, the judge answered "So just give him Mentos?".


    God, I hate religion. Just because of bullshit like this. And shit like Chinese Traditional Medicine is basically same shit, people are made to believe it works and you it's a huge uphill battle to make them unbelieve it.

  4. #4
    What you see is what happens when country modernises and get's rich (relatively) so fast, that the cultural changes are lagging behind. Has iPhone, but believes rhino horns makes the peepee stay hard, basically.
    To be fair - snake oil sellers work in the West too, still, just not as much.

  5. #5
    Scarab Lord Thekri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easo View Post
    What you see is what happens when country modernises and get's rich (relatively) so fast, that the cultural changes are lagging behind. Has iPhone, but believes rhino horns makes the peepee stay hard, basically.
    To be fair - snake oil sellers work in the West too, still, just not as much.
    It really isn't the same at all though. That is what the context part of my OP was about. This isn't an ancient tradition, this is a system that was created in the 1960s to act as a national placebo for the fact that China didn't have access to modern healthcare. "Traditional Chinese Medicine" before that point was a hodgepodge of thousands of different local practices, superstitions, and beliefs that varied enormously across China.

    Chinese government propaganda pushed this for decades, from official government sources. Mao Zedong spoke on it often and loudly, presenting it as a way China was superior to the world. It is only in the last few decades the Government has stopped pushing it, but they have been extremely reluctant to actually condemn or suppress the practice.
    "We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine." DJT- Jan 22, 2020
    "And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done." DJT- Feb 26, 2020
    “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” DJT- Feb 27, 2020

  6. #6
    Pandaren Monk smityx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thekri View Post
    Caught up in the panic of the moment, the issue of "blame" for this virus keeps coming up. Certain people, including this current administration are using terms like "Chinese Virus" or "Kung Flu" to describe it, thus stapling the blame on Chinese people writ large, or possibly the Chinese government in particular.
    I prefer to call it the "T-45" Virus

  7. #7
    @Thekri

    This is a great post. And it's made even worse by the Chinese Communist Party, to this very day, encouraging the use of TCM to treat the Wuhan Virus.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/asia/...hnk/index.html

    As scientists race to find a cure and vaccine, China is increasingly turning to its traditional remedies. As of late last month, more than 85% of all coronavirus patients in China -- about 60,000 people -- had received herbal remedies alongside mainstream antiviral drugs, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

    "We are willing to share the 'Chinese experience' and 'Chinese solution' of treating Covid-19, and let more countries get to know Chinese medicine, understand Chinese medicine and use Chinese medicine," Yu Yanhong, deputy head of China's National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said at a press conference last week.

    But even in China, where TCM has a large number of adherents, the government has been unable to quell its skeptics -- like Xiong. Abroad, the herbal remedies could face even more skepticism from Western medical experts, who have long questioned their safety and effectiveness.
    But not everyone is convinced. Xiong, the recovered patient who refused to drink the TCM soups, questioned the rigorousness and fairness of the trials.
    "We must conduct double blind tests with large enough samples -- and they have to be chosen completely randomly," he said.

    TCM treatments are not just being carried out in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

    In eastern Zhejiang province, more than 95% of coronavirus patients had been given traditional medicines as of late February, according to the state run Global Times.
    In Beijing, that ratio stood at 87%. Among those who had received TCM, 92% had shown improvement, said Gao Xiaojun, a spokesperson for the Beijing Health Commission.

    "Traditional Chinese medicine has played an active role in improving the recovery rate and lowering the fatality rate among patients," he told a press conference late last month.
    However, Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said the claimed improvement rate of 92% should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    "You have to be mindful that 80% (of the coronavirus patients) are mild cases. Even if they don't do anything they might eventually recover," he said.
    State-backed industry
    The front and center role TCM has taken in fighting the coronavirus outbreak dovetails with the Chinese government's recent efforts to promote TCM at home and abroad.
    China's State Council estimated last year that the TCM industry could exceed 3 trillion yuan ($430 billion) by 2020 -- a 71% increase from 2017. Beijing has also sought to promote TCM alongside its "Belt and Road Initiative," a massive global infrastructure and investment program.

    Ancient remedies have been repeatedly hailed as a source of national pride by Chinese President Xi Jinping, himself a well-known TCM advocate.

    "Traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization embodying the wisdom of the nation and its people," Xi told a national conference on TCM in October last year.
    In this outbreak, Xi has repeatedly exhorted doctors to treat patients with a mix of Chinese and Western medicines.

    The Chinese leader made his first public call for the "combination of Chinese and Western medicine" in the diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19 in late January, at a meeting of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, the country's supreme ruling body.


    Two days later, China's National Health Commission issued a notice asking medical institutions to "actively promote the role of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) during treatment" of coronavirus.

    Last month, the commission recommended a TCM prescription in an updated version of the guideline: the "lung-cleansing and detoxifying soup" -- the remedy being handed out in the makeshift hospital Xiong was in.

    The prescription is promoted by the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the National Health Commission as a suitable remedy for patients with mild to serious symptoms, and has since been widely used in Wuhan and other provinces.

    Feng Yibin, acting director of the School of Chinese Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said the prescription was based on four herbal formulas from ancient China, with one dating back as far as 1,800 years ago.

    "After being first adopted in four provinces, clinical observations show that the remedy has desirable results, so it was promoted nationwide," he said.
    I'll say again, the Chinese Communist Party has revealed itself as a dire threat to the welfare of the entire human race through this episode. They must be cut off. They must be confronted. There must be no going back.

  8. #8
    This was an excellent read, Thekri.
    Thanks for posting!
    Synek - best rogue in the world


  9. #9
    Old God Grimbold21's Avatar
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    Don't misunderstand me, but can one disassociate people from their practices?

    If certain groups of Chinese people within certain regions of the country have a habit or culture of eating exotic animals that were known - at least in the scientific circles - to be carriers of viruses, then what?

    Sure, you can trash the government, but isn't it the same as trashing some Americans that insist on being outside in groups and dismissing it as another flu?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Easo View Post
    What you see is what happens when country modernises and get's rich (relatively) so fast, that the cultural changes are lagging behind. Has iPhone, but believes rhino horns makes the peepee stay hard, basically.
    To be fair - snake oil sellers work in the West too, still, just not as much.
    You can argue it's not as harmful or destructive environmentally in the west however it is just as prevalent. Faith healing for example is a multi billion dollar tax protected scam that is now selling silver cures and protection against the virus one of them is the spiritual advisor to the president.

  11. #11
    Elemental Lord zealo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easo View Post
    What you see is what happens when country modernises and get's rich (relatively) so fast, that the cultural changes are lagging behind. Has iPhone, but believes rhino horns makes the peepee stay hard, basically.
    To be fair - snake oil sellers work in the West too, still, just not as much.
    What you see here is rather a country that tried to modernise healthcare while being an international pariah in a lot of ways.

    The chinese on the mainland after 1949 weren't even recognised to be the government of China for another couple of decades more after this began being pushed.

  12. #12
    Titan Lenonis's Avatar
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    The current outbreak has shined a spotlight on this but really all non-science based medicinal practices need to go. Although not nearly anywhere close on the same scale the anti-vaxxer movement has caused measles outbreaks at various times.

    We have advanced enough to know what works and what doesn't with only a handful of things still in the maybe column. Folklore medicine, anti-vaxxers, religious based nonsense all need to go. If nothing else the current pandemic highlights what happens when people don't listen to scientific experts.

  13. #13
    Scarab Lord Thekri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draco-Onis View Post
    You can argue it's not as harmful or destructive environmentally in the west however it is just as prevalent. Faith healing for example is a multi billion dollar tax protected scam that is now selling silver cures and protection against the virus one of them is the spiritual advisor to the president.
    Agreed, but the logical test I use for these practiced is "Does this hurt me if I don't believe in it or practice it?". You are correct about the tax exemption for these western Psuedo-Science healing routines needs to go, because it is contributing to the deficit, but it is a relatively minor amount of harm, unless you by into it. Anti-vaxxers are a different story, with very real and sustained harm to the community, and thus need a more aggressive approach (Talking education and messaging here, not brutal police crackdowns) to deal with.

    The subject of this post however, the Chinese wet markets, have proven to be a massive and sustained threat to the entire global community. Regardless of if you believe in TCM or not, your life is currently being impacted by this belief in a big way. This is why we have to deal with TCM now. I do agree that we need to deal with all these different quack healing schemes, but this particular one is the most dangerous and most pressing right now. We can't bring back the animal species that are going extinct from it, and we can't put pandemics back in the bottle once they start spreading.
    "We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine." DJT- Jan 22, 2020
    "And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done." DJT- Feb 26, 2020
    “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” DJT- Feb 27, 2020

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Lenonis View Post
    We have advanced enough to know what works and what doesn't with only a handful of things still in the maybe column. Folklore medicine, anti-vaxxers, religious based nonsense all need to go. If nothing else the current pandemic highlights what happens when people don't listen to scientific experts.
    The problem is, just because "we" (as in someone in the populace of humanity) knows something doesn't mean everyone knows it, nor will everyone believe it or feel motivated by it even if they do know something.

    For instance, I know global warming is an issue, but I feel compelled to do next to nothing about it. I know what that means, and I'm perfectly fine with that eventuality. I think we deserve it and I'm looking forward to it. Nature self-correcting for the human mistake is probably my favorite thing.

    I digress. I think it's fine for people to enable and practice farcical things. It helps widen the gap between those with intelligence and those without. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Let people make poor choices and let them reap the full consequences of those actions instead of coddling or saving people constantly.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Thekri View Post
    Agreed, but the logical test I use for these practiced is "Does this hurt me if I don't believe in it or practice it?". You are correct about the tax exemption for these western Psuedo-Science healing routines needs to go, because it is contributing to the deficit, but it is a relatively minor amount of harm, unless you by into it. Anti-vaxxers are a different story, with very real and sustained harm to the community, and thus need a more aggressive approach (Talking education and messaging here, not brutal police crackdowns) to deal with.

    The subject of this post however, the Chinese wet markets, have proven to be a massive and sustained threat to the entire global community. Regardless of if you believe in TCM or not, your life is currently being impacted by this belief in a big way. This is why we have to deal with TCM now. I do agree that we need to deal with all these different quack healing schemes, but this particular one is the most dangerous and most pressing right now. We can't bring back the animal species that are going extinct from it, and we can't put pandemics back in the bottle once they start spreading.
    I think that they should be regulated as with everything involving superstition and faith it will be impossible to abolish them entirely. If they were banned they would be driven underground and represent a bigger threat to global health properly taxing, regulating them for health and slowly killing them is properly the best bet. The question would be how much of the Chinese government believes in that stuff because they would fight against it.

  16. #16
    Titan Daemos daemonium's Avatar
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    These things realistically will never stop being a thing almost every culture has something akin and there’s no real way to stop them.

  17. #17
    Titan Lenonis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeepBoo View Post
    I think it's fine for people to enable and practice farcical things...Let people make poor choices and let them reap the full consequences of those actions instead of coddling or saving people constantly.
    The problem is that it often isn't the people who make these choices that end up suffering the consequences. If it was just those people and communities that put themselves at risk then fine. But that isn't how it works.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Daemos daemonium View Post
    These things realistically will never stop being a thing almost every culture has something akin and there’s no real way to stop them.
    There are ways to stop them or protect others from their choices. It just involves taking away freedoms that some people feel are more important.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Lenonis View Post
    The problem is that it often isn't the people who make these choices that end up suffering the consequences. If it was just those people and communities that put themselves at risk then fine. But that isn't how it works.
    I know of a particular situation and I have an answer for it, but I guarantee you won't like it.

    For instance, the most relevant example I can think of would be vaccinations. For immuno-compromised people, we need about 85% of our pop to be vaccinated to protect them. Now, an intelligent person would vaccinate by my summation of what I consider "intelligent." As well, if people decided to not vaccinate enough, those vulnerable people would be hugely at-risk. However, I wouldn't mandate people get vaccines, even if it got to the point where those weak people would suffer of no fault of their own.

    The non-vaxxers didn't CAUSE that person's immunocompromization. That is a personal weakness and shortcoming of that person. That's just a fact. Anyone that relies on other people for anything is at the behest of those other people, no exceptions, because you aren't owed a damn thing by other people. Yes, even in a society.

    There are ways to stop them or protect others from their choices. It just involves taking away freedoms that some people feel are more important.
    Freedom > all.

  19. #19
    Titan Lenonis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeepBoo View Post
    The non-vaxxers didn't CAUSE that person's immunocompromization.
    Nope. But they caused the unnecessary exposure to the disease. Also -- see infants. How dare those babies not grow faster. Totally their fault right?

    Freedom > all.
    Well that's not how any society operates so that stance is nonsense from the start.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Lenonis View Post
    Nope. But they caused the unnecessary exposure to the disease. Also -- see infants. How dare those babies not grow faster. Totally their fault right?
    Not their fault, but their problem. The two are different. Personal problems are always ultimately a personal responsibility. Just because someone isn't strong enough to solve that problem without the good graces of someone stronger doesn't mean they're entitled to someone saving them or fixing it.

    Well that's not how any society operates so that stance is nonsense from the start.
    Just because something doesn't currently work that way doesn't mean it can't or won't ever. Just because it's impractical to go 100% that direction doesn't invalidate the idea that it should be maximized as much as possible.

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