Chinese Medicine Worked For Me

Health Magazine of April 1999 - Page 44

In June 1986, Helen Hale developed a measles-like rash all over her body, a temperature of 104° and swollen glands. Her temperature raged for seven days. Then Helen found she couldn't walk because her knees were so painful. After three months of misdiagnoses, Helen's GP, Dr Fred Allenby, diagnosed lupus, which was confirmed by tests at St Thomas's Hospital in London.

'Systemic lupus tends to affect an organ, in my case my lungs, she says. 'I had such bad chest infections I was on a nebuliser. Mum gave me physiotherapy every morning and night to clear mucus from my lungs. It was torture and didn't always work. I was also on antibiotics because steroids destroy your immune system.'

'At the height of my lupus I was taking 60mg of steroids a day and it didn't drop below 5mg over the next ten years. I had to work part-time as I was always exhausted and, eventually, my boyfriend and I drifted apart. By 1996, the steroids had weakened my bones and I was getting osteoporosis. I had reached the end of my tether, when a girl at work told me Chinese medicine might be worth a try.'

'My GP was supportive as long as I still had check-ups with him. I went to a Chinese practitioner Dr Gao with an open mind, not expecting much.' Dr Gao took Helen's pulses and told her she had trouble with her chest, lungs and swollen ankles. He gave her bagged herbs for making tea.

'It tasted disgusting but I persevered. After four weeks I came off the nebuliser and didn't need any antibiotics for my chest infections. And after ten months I came off the steroids and I haven't had to take any since then!'

'I still didn't have much energy, though, so my friend Renee Tanner gave me weekly reflexology sessions - I was bounding with energy afterwards and I now go once a fortnight.'

'When I had my six-monthly check-up in December 97 I still had lupus but the levels had gone down so much that they could not believe I wasn't taking steroids or antibiotics. The hospital has also been in touch with Dr Gao to see if they can work together. Life is great again. I've increased my work hours, and have a social life and boyfriends. Dr Gao has given me back my life.'

How The Therapy Works

'Chinese medicine considers what a person's whole system is doing' says Dr Duo Gao.

'When I make a diagnosis I check the pulses - right wrist for the lungs and digestive system and left for the heart, liver and kidneys - look at skin colour and eyes, and listen to the symptoms.'

'I treated Helen for her infections first, then to regulate her immune system, and finally to improve her lung function. I took Helen off steroids gradually - as long as she took them her immune system would stay suppressed. I used honey-mixed radix astralgi membra, a root used for treating lupus and for dealing with fluid retention, and herba houttuyniae cordatae, a grass which is good for coughs and lung infections. Helen's improvement is dramatic and I hope she will be able to stop taking the herbal tea soon. There is no cure for lupus - even when her symptoms have stopped she will need monitoring for a few more years.'

A 'Chinese Takeaway' Did The Trick

Womans Own Magazine, January 1999

Stephanie Ozturk, 31, from Croydon, South London, had no problems getting pregnant with her first son, Sami, now six. But it was a different story when she and her husband Mustapha, 39, tried to have a second child.

'We were thrilled when I discovered I was pregnant again a year after Sami was born. So when I miscarried at three months I was devastated. After that my periods became erratic - either three or five weeks apart - I got constant headaches and nausea and I still couldn't conceive. For three years Mustapha and I went through all sorts of tests. Although they discovered I had only one ovary, they said I should still be able to have another baby. The doctor was no help at all and told me: "I know what your problem is, you're suffering from mild depression because you're obsessed with getting pregnant."'

'All he did was refer me back to the hospital - at the end of a seven-month waiting list. I was angry and frustrated. I felt no one was listening to me. That's when I decided to give Chinese herbal medicine a try. I've always had an open mind about alternative therapies, although I had never actually tried one.'

'I used to pass a Chinese clinic on my way to the shops, so one day I popped in and made an appointment with Professor Duo Gao. He said he and his colleagues had treated hundreds of infertile women and they had an 80 per cent success rate. He explained that Chinese herbs rebalance the whole body, which often means they sort out hormonal and reproductive problems.'

'Professor Gao checked my pulse and looked at my skin and eyes. We talked about my medical history and he listened far more carefully than any conventional doctor I'd visited. He said that I had hormonal problems and my whole body was 'blocked'. He said my erratic periods meant my uterus was not building a proper lining, so there was nothing for an egg to implant in. I left with a bag of herbs, which Mustapha and I called my Chinese takeaway.'

'I had to drink tea made from them twice a day. It tasted disgusting. After three months, however, my headaches disappeared and my periods became regular again. For the first time in years, I felt really well. I had another appointment for two months later, when I was given herbal pills specifically designed to stimulate the reproductive system. That same month I discovered I was pregnant. Anthony was born last July, and he's totally gorgeous. I can't imagine life without him now. We're so glad we tried something different. The treatment cost £400 - but that's nothing compared to the joy of having a baby.'