Anyone who knows me knows this about me - I don't believe in stuff that has no evidence. I don't believe even more strongly in stuff where there is actual evidence of the opposite.
So I don't believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Controlled studies all say that it doesn't work. That's good enough for me. The jury isn't out. The jury has been out, come back, returned a guilty verdict, heard the sentence and watched the execution.
It. Doesn't. Work.
I know you can't convince a true believer. I know there will be people who say it's been around for thousands of years. I know there will be people who say one and a half billion people can't be wrong.
All I'll say is neither popular opinion nor antiquity make something true.
I'm not trying to convince you — just saying what I believe.
Anyway, the point is this. One and a half billion people do believe. And I live right in the middle of them. This means that whenever there is something wrong with me — be it a cold or a sprained ankle — there are always dozens of people telling me that they know a super-duper, whizz-bang TCM practitioner who can not only cure it but bring colour to my cheeks, restore my thinning hair and pep up my love life.
Right now I have one of my occasional attacks of gout. It's bloody painful. I'll take pain-killers. I'll go back to an alcohol-free and vegetarian lifestyle for a while. It will last as long as it lasts, then fade away and disappear completely — until next time.
I've had it for years. I know the pattern. I know it's intermittent. I know that when you have it it never goes away completely. I know that, in the UK, I could easily get drugs to treat it.
I also know that here getting someone to take me to see a western doctor who will prescribe those drugs instead of magic potions is going to be next to impossible. Sure those doctors are here, but they work side by side with the ones who will give me a bag of twigs and tell me to boil it up for a couple hours and then drink it.
And those are the ones that all my friends will want me to see.
They did it when I had a mild chest infection. I went because I didn't realise that's where they were taking me. I wanted a doctor of western medicine. Instead I got someone who looked like a doctor but gave me stuff to drink that, and I'm not kidding, after one sip, had me vomitting all over the kitchen floor.
I didn't take a second sip.
But they do go on trying, and right there is the problem. How do I tell them that I don't believe in any of that stuff and if they must find me medicine find me something that has been tested and evidenced to western standards.
How do I tell them that I think TCM is all just so much voodoo?
How do I do any of that without offending people who are only trying to help?