Traditional Chinese medicine on rise in Australia: Aussie practitioner

27th Jun, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

SYDNEY : Traditional Chinese medicine is in the midst of a renaissance in Australia and patients and doctors alike are becoming more welcoming of its practice, an Australian practitioner said Tuesday.

Dr. Mary Garvey told Xinhua that she believes times are changing for her profession, which has enjoyed a "boosted profile" in recent years.

"There is really a lot of positive changes for us, and I can see that medical professionals are paying more attention to Chinese medicine, and there's more and more strong scientific evidence for Chinese medicine treatment and health outcomes," she said.

There are now almost 5,000 Chinese medicine clinics in Australia, and according to a research from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), acupuncture has been recommended with greater frequency by Australian doctors than any other complementary therapy in Australia, with around 75 percent of them referring their patients to an acupuncturist at least once a month.

Garvey, who coordinates the undergraduate course in Chinese traditional medicine at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) said since the degree was created in 1994, she has seen "steady demand" from a diverse range of students, including Chinese international students, as well as many domestic students.

The learned practitioner tries to focus on teaching her students about how Chinese traditional medicinal techniques and Western methods can be harmoniously integrated "to create better outcomes for patients," and said many students are impressed by the marriage of tradition and innovation they witness when they complete their practical training placements in China.

"In terms of our own location, we are within the university's science faculty, right next to the physiotherapy, medical science, and psychology departments, so even with our location, it shows the importance of the cross-fertilisation of ideas," she said.

"Most of our final year students go to Beijing or Chengdu as part of their studies, and they see these big, very modern, best practice hospitals that have a fully integrated biomedical and Chinese medicine approach. They are able to manage patients both ways."

Garvey, who completed her acupuncture training in 1985, and went on to study in Nanjing, Shanghai, and Beijing said she too was equally impressed when she began her own studies in Chinese traditional medicine.

"Even back then, I found the ideas very interesting. I was immediately attracted by the way it considers the body and the number of options it provides for patients."

"What was also interesting for me was the philosophy, and the different worldview it provides in terms of thinking about treatment."Much like her students, Garvey said she was impressed with her own initial encounter with Chinese medicine, many Australians at the time did not share her views, and she believes there is still "an element of prejudice" against her profession, despite the long history of acupuncture in Australia, which can be traced back more than 150 years.

"I think there's still a little bit of remaining resistance from some areas of the established medical profession, I know it's still there but by and large, that is changing."

For Garvey, this resistance is something she wants to break down even further, with a recent collaboration with the oncology unit at a major Sydney hospital that she hopes demonstrated the growing opportunities for a symbiotic relationship between traditional and mainstream medicine treatments.

The industry veteran hopes the wave of positivity towards Chinese medicine continues, with prejudice turning into pleasant surprise, as more Australian patients from different cultural backgrounds become open to visiting Chinese health clinics.

"We've had such a diverse group of people, it really is all kinds of people, and often they come after recommendations from their friends," she said.

"Often our patients are quite surprised by how well it works. I don't know what they were expecting beforehand, but they get such great results, so they end up coming back."