Technology meets tradition to boost treatment

TRADITIONAL Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years for wellness and to boost the body’s immunity, said INTI International University TCM programme head Dr Heng Aik Teng.

By enhancing the body’s cardiopulmonary functions to fight against various ailments, TCM enables qi – an individual’s vital energy – to flow smoothly along the meridians in the body, which ensures wellness and health, he said.

When there is a sufficient amount of healthy qi in our body, pathogenic factors are less likely to invade or harm us, he added.

TCM physicians believe that by promoting a healthy qi, the human body will build up its own immunity towards diseases and develop a better ability to recover. The lack of good qi will lead to internal injury and illness, he said.

According to China’s State Administration of TCM, traditional formulas and medicines have proven to be effective in many cases when treating patients affected with Covid-19, he added.

Its report stated that 91.6% of the patients in Hubei province and 92.4% of patients nationwide were treated through TCM during the peak of the pandemic’s outbreak in China.

“TCM practitioners believe it is vital to nourish the spleen and stomach which provide sources of qi and good blood circulation to preserve healthy qi.

Healthy Qi: Dr Heng said TCM is used to regulate the body’s qi as well as prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

“Supplementing the spleen and nourishing the qi will further improve the lung functions – the primary target of Covid-19.

“Chinese herbs that are commonly used for this include Ginseng, Huangqi, Baizhu and Cordyceps.”

Noting that the main route for airborne infectious diseases to enter the body are through the mucous membrane of the nose and mouth, Dr Heng stressed on the importance of wearing a medical face mask when visiting crowded places, and practising social distancing.

“Our hands can easily become the main channel of transmission. Therefore, we must avoid touching our face or rubbing our eyes or nose.

“Washing or disinfecting our hands frequently becomes an important habit to keep infectious diseases like Covid-19 as well as other diseases – from entering the body,” he said.

People should also avoid being overworked and getting bacterial and virus infections, pay attention to their living environment, be emotionally well, and practise good work from home habits, he advised.

Despite being confined at home, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and keeping a healthy qi during the movement control order (MCO) is possible.

“Taking care of our daily diet is one of the easiest changes to help improve overall well-being. Although you can’t go out to exercise right now, use yoga mats and carry out some simple physical exercises. Indoor sports tutorials is available on numerous apps and Youtube,” said the expert whose doctorate is from the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TUTCM), China.

He added that the emergence of numerous new technologies brought about by IR4.0 has enabled human intelligence and traditional diagnostic methods such as TCM to be simulated and extended through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

TCM, he said, is making headway in the field of alternative medicine thanks to China.

INTI’s TCM academicians, led by vice-chancellor Dr Joseph Lee and Faculty of Health & Life Sciences (FHLS) Dean Prof Wong Ling Shing, attended the recent Asian region advanced TCM education seminar at TUTCM – a partner university for INTI’s TCM undergraduates to complete their clinical internships.

Dr Heng said experiencing TCM first hand was eye-opening.“Apart from understanding new teaching methods, scientific research and medical treatments that influence TCM, we were brought to the Clinical Expertise Training Centre and introduced to different types of advanced equipment that TUTCM is currently researching.

“We also got to visit a private company which manufactures teaching software and equipment.”

The team got to try the Anatomy for Acupuncture with VR Tech-nology and were introduced to advanced prototype TCM equipment such as the Pulse Training Simulator, Tongue Condition Reader, and Modern Bronze Acupuncture Figure.

Impressed by the combination of TCM expertise and emerging technologies, Dr Heng said simulators that mimic real patients are now available and can improve the capabilities of our future TCM practitioners.

“In the past, practical learning is usually difficult to carry out in lectures as students rarely had simulations of actual patients or had to use less accurate methods.”

This, he said, will greatly benefit INTI’s students when they conduct their final-year internship at TUTCM.

Dr Lee said the trip gave the varsity’s academicians international exposure on the latest teaching methodology and the use of emerging technology in TCM.

“Our lecturers gained a deeper understanding of alternative medical education management in China and to meet their Chinese counterparts in sharing ideas and best practices.

“This will ultimately strengthen the collaboration between our two universities and lay the groundwork for launching an advanced teaching and training programme in Malaysia.”

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