A herbal apprentice

South China Morning Post

By Jessie Hui

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2006, 12:00am


A herbal apprentice


STUDYING Chinese medicine is hard work, said a fresh graduate who recorded his experience in his new book, The Memoir of a Herbal Apprentice.
The book is a first for Vincent Lee Yu-ming, who just finished his five-year Chinese medicine course at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU).
Published by Breakthrough, the book has proved popular among young readers and has been nominated for the 18th ‘Top 10 Books for Secondary School Students’ election.
Lee hopes the book can give students an idea of what studying Chinese medicine is like.
‘I never went to a Chinese medical doctor when I was young. I only thought about studying western medicine,’ he said.
‘One day I twisted my ankle at school. I went to see a western medical doctor, but all he gave me were painkillers that didn’t help at all,’ he said.
‘By chance, I came across a course on tui na, a manipulative therapy often used with acupuncture or massage. I tried it and my ankle healed.
‘It was my first experience of the wonder of Chinese medicine and it inspired me to study it.’
Studying Chinese medicine at HKBU was much tougher than Lee had expected.
‘It was a very intensive five-year course. We also had to study western pathology and ancient Chinese medical prose,’ said Lee, who was actively involved in promoting Chinese medicine throughout his study.
‘The first two years were the toughest. We learned to recognise more than 400 different types of herbs, and had to memorise over 400 pressure points on a human body.’
After the fourth year, Lee went on an exchange at a Nanjing traditional Chinese medical school.
It was an eye-opening experience for him.’It’s illegal to pick precious medical herbs without a licence in Hong Kong, but in Nanjing we could pick as many as we wanted. The whole mountain was covered with plants that can be used as medicine,’ he said.
Acupuncture class was one of Lee’s favourites.
‘We had to practise a lot. Some of my classmates wouldn’t practise on themselves so they practised on each other,’ he said.
‘Brave ones like myself wanted to feel what it’s like.
‘Acupuncture can heal all kinds of illnesses. One time I was coming down with something. My professor stuck a needle into a pressure point on my foot and I was fine the next day. It’s simple and there’s no need to take medicine.’
As traditional Chinese medicine has just started to become popular, graduates face a tough road ahead.
‘It ‘s not hard to find a good job,’ he said. ‘I hope the government can establish a Chinese medical hospital to provide more opportunities for us. ‘





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