with general practitioner BAO and Chinese Medecine Expert TAO
PART I: BAO
When you are a doctor and believe in your mission, there is no rest during confinement. Social media technologies allow permanent contact with patients in distress. We ask ourselves so many questions. Do I have a cold, the flu or do I really have this dangerous virus? The Belgian doctor of Chinese origin, Mr. Bao Shihou, decided to take up the challenge anyway. Don’t let go of the people who believe in him. Despite the stress and fatigue.An impressive encounter on Zoom, followed by a mini-interview with Dr. Tao, in addition, to see the possible interactions with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
LHCH: Dr Bao, what was your academic and professional journey from China to Belgium?
Bao Shihou: I studied surgery and western medicine in China. But at the university there, we also have, in parallel, a few courses on our treasure: traditional Chinese medicine. In 1983, I took internships and worked in a hospital in Shanghai. 1986 was the year I left for Belgium to improve my knowledge at the University Hospital of Antwerp. I got a doctorate in surgical science two years later. In 1991, given the events and the atmosphere in China, I decided to stay in Belgium, especially since my thesis director had offered me to continue my course in general medicine thanks to a PHD that I finished in 1995 at ULB. For almost 25 years now, I have been hosting in my general practitioner practice in Antwerp.
LHCH: How are you coping with the 2nd wave of Covid as a doctor?
Bao Shihou: Worse than the first! We know the Covid better than in March when everything was too new, the symptoms, the possible treatments for these symptoms, etc., but the 2nd wave is at the same time more aggressive. This disease is dangerous and the mortality higher. In addition, the current psychological panic reinforces the poor condition of people. Bad morale affects health. There is a psychosomatic influence! I have to create quite a psychological support too.
LHCH: Do you have Chinese or Belgian patients for the most part?
Bao Shihou: I have a lot of Chinese patients because my work is recognized by our community and the embassy supports me. I have a great responsibility. But I also have Belgian and European patients. With the Chinese, I communicate mainly through WECHAT. I can even send the electronic prescription through this social media. From Antwerp to France, via Wallonia.
LHCH: What concrete means are you implementing to help your patients?Bao Shihou: There are already between 30 and 70 people who pass daily for exams. Of my patients, 80 are infected today. But as a general practitioner, I have to follow the decisions of the government. So, for example, I cannot offer the famous chloroquine. But by video, I see the symptoms of my patient and from there, I prescribe, depending on the dangerousness of the symptoms, paracetamol or food supplements to support the body. When I deem the condition too serious, I send it straight to the hospital! I don’t take any chances.
LHCH: What legal molecules then do you recommend to support and therefore fight the infection of Covid?
Bao Shihou: vitamin C and D, zinc too. Prevention and strengthening of immune defenses are essential. Since I have knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, I feel that some symptoms could be treated by herbs from our pharmacopoeia, so I refer my patients to Doctor Tao. Personally, I believe that ginseng is very beneficial now. It increases the Qi energy of the body. But I cannot prescribe it myself so I collaborate with Madame Tao, specialist in TCM, recognized throughout Belgium.
LHCH: Does it work too?
Bao Shihou: If the patient’s condition is not too serious, yes. There are improvements and the viral load decreases until recovery.
LHCH: Are there any diseases that only TCM can cure?
Bao Shihou: I have experience in acupuncture. Here, we can not manage for example a facial paralysis. Acupuncture can. In Europe, we would try cortisone but the side effects are terrible and many contraindications!
LHCH: Are you a western general practitioner but open to TCM?
Bao Shihou: I have to follow Western protocols. But, for example, I use acupuncture for the Chinese points where I will take the injections of Western medicines. Like supplements of different B vitamins. In this case, I get 100% success. I then combine western medicine with acupuncture.
LHCH: Are you talking about a very serious 2nd wave… Do you have a lot more patients?
Bao Shihou: Yes! During the 1st wave, few Chinese were affected. There was a lot of diarrhea. That’s all. Today, due to the loss of vigilance and the density of Chinese community life in Belgium, cases of infections abound. In addition, it is now understood that 85 percent of cases are linked to transmissions within the family. But we must differentiate between the asymptomatic infected; people who have symptoms without being dangerously ill; and the real sick.
LHCH: Did the Belgian authorities fully realize the extent of the problem?Bao Shihou: I would be less unhappy as a doctor in China. There, they build hospitals in 10 days. All infected can concentrate there without endangering others. No broken quarantines like here. Here, there are management problems, hospital funding and the citizens are more undisciplined.LHCH: How to do then?
Bao Shihou: For my part, I fully support my patients, I do radical follow-up and only send them to the hospital when it is really necessary so as not to further stress the nursing staff, who are already overwhelmed.
LHCH: How do you feel about the idea that the flu shot could make things worse for those most vulnerable?
Bao Shihou: For those over 50 and weak people who have diabetes or a kidney problem, there is no risk with the flu shot. For people over 85, indeed, I believe it is dangerous.
LHCH: And the vaccine in China? The test phases would not be finished and we already sell the vaccine for 50 euros? A risk ?
Bao Shihou: In China we don’t think like in Europe. Here, if there are out of 1000 shots of vaccine, only one which is fatal, we stop everything. In China, if the vaccine can save 999 out of every 1,000 people, then enough is enough. So I am for it.LHCH: And here in Belgium, will you take it?
Bao Shihou: Yes.
LHCH: Will TCM be able to support the bodies of people who take the vaccine and are afraid of side effects?
Bao Shihou: Yes of course. It’s complementary. During the H1N1 era in 2010, the vaccine arrived very quickly in GP surgeries. I got vaccinated. I was very bad for one day but in the end it was good. Today I will take the Covid 19 vaccine but that does not prevent me from strengthening my immune defenses day by day. I’m not afraid but I’m over 63 and I work a lot. We will have to learn to fight. In the meantime, let’s wear the masks and avoid filling the hospitals. Everything must be in risk management.
PART II. Can Western medicine and TCM collaborate ? Doctor Tao reacted at Doctor Bao interview by LHCH on Zoom
Dr. Taoliling studied between 1979-1984 at the Traditional Chinese Medicine of University Jiangxi. She worked as doctor in that hospital till 1994 and she lectured in the University. Since 1994 she lives and works in Belgium.
LHCH : Regarding the new virus, how can Western medicine and Chinese medicine cooperate?
Tao : First, I would like to thank Doctor Bao’s efforts and bravour. Everyday he is striving against this virus, caring his patients without thinking about his health. In the name of the association of Chinese traditional medecine in Belgium, I express our deep gracefulness. And also in the name of Chinese community of Belgium ! Regarding the treatment of this new coronavirus, how does traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine cooperate? Chinese medicine thinks that it is first diagnosed by western medicine. Our Chinese medicine is based on syndrome differentiation and treatment. In TCM, there are 5 diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation, olfaction, inquiry, and palpation.
Inspection focuses on the face and particularly on the tongue, including analysis of the tongue size, shape, tension, color and coating, and the absence or presence of teeth marks around the edge.
Auscultation refers to listening for particular sounds (such as wheezing).
Olfaction refers to attending to body odor.Inquiry focuses on the “seven inquiries”, which involve asking the patient about the regularity, severity, or other characteristics of certain bodily functions and complaints.
Palpation includes feeling the body for tender points, palpation of the wrist pulses as well as various other pulses, and palpation of the abdomen.
LHCH: But during the lockdown ?
Tao: Of course, if you can’t see each other now, you can only look at the tongue. For the patient, after the tongue is patted, the tongue is diagnosed and treated, and then Chinese medicine is prescribed to him, then the sickness of this patient, the damp heat ( fever) will be removed.
LHCH : Do you think that Chinese medicine does not need chemical vaccine to cure or prevent Coronavirus ?
Tao : in our interview by Zoom, what we were talking about at the time was about whether this Chinese medicine doctor should avoid the anticipation. I was talking about strengthening the body, keeping up the righteous qi and keeping internal evil, and strengthening this exercise to enhance your physical fitness. It means practicing qigong. This is my opinion. What’s more, I think about creating a vaccine. Well, his current mutation of this mutant virus has 123 strains, so what about a vaccine, how to fight with it? What quantity’s of vaccine do we need ?
LHCH : Is the human body can naturally defend itself ?
Tao : Because the current virus has heard a lot of mutations, it will soon be so. Of course, this vaccine is another matter. I think physical fitness is very important for each of us. Whether you are vaccinated or not, then our own resistance is that we don’t have to spend money or spend money on it. Any external can be mobilized, why don’t we do it? This is a question I am also considering now.
LHCH: Thank you Doctor Tao for having given our opinion and your point of view on these crucial questions for Public Health.