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Tianjin Epidemic 1940
- The Story Told by A Chinese Doctor (6)

28 April 2009

1) Greeting at Ghost Gate
2) Pulse Reading
3) Doctor and Fate
4) Cosmic Rays
5) Cosmic Rays & Epidemics

6) Tianjin Epidemic 1940

In the summer of 1939 during the Japanese occupation of the city, Tianjin suffered from terrible flood, and the whole city was completely submerged under the deluge. Countless people perished in the disaster and dead bodies lying everywhere unburied for an extended period. The air was thick with a rotten smell.

Traditional Chinese Medicine long concluded from observation that there will be outburst of epidemics following a natural disaster (大灾之后,必有大疫). At the time my grandma's family were living in Tianjin and my grandfather repeatedly sent letters urging his in-laws to leave the town for Shandong to stay with them for a while. An old brother of my grandma was a surgeon trained in Europe and had a strong faith in Modern Western Medicine, believing that as long as proper sanitation measures were taken, the epidemic could be avoided. He resolved to remain in Tianjin to serve those who needed him most.

In the early summer of 1940, my grandfather accompanied my grandma to visit her parents and brother in Tianjin. One day on their way home from a theatre, they heard people talking about a strange old woman with a filthy look and foul smell frequently staggering along in the late night streets. She was said to be fully covered from head to toe in a black cloak so no one could see her face; her voice was piecing and rasping and everyone nearby could hear her incomprehensible murmuring. Nobody knew where she came from, and nobody ever saw her during the day.

Next morning, my grandfather told my grandma that they must leave Tianjin immediately. "What's the hurry?" My grandma responded. "We've just arrived here." My grandfather said: "Remember the old woman they talked about last night? I'm afraid she may not be a human, but a spirit coming here to spread contagious disease." My grandma did not really believe my grandfather words, but seeing he was so anxious, she agreed his proposal. When she went to say goodbye to her family and conveyed the message of my grandfather, her brother sneered. "How could you believe a tale about a spirit?" he censured.

My grandfather realised he could not persuade his in-law's family to go with him, so he went to see a friend, also a TCM doctor, and asked him to prepare for the coming disaster and look after his in-law's family.

A month later, in July 1940, cholera disease broke out in Tianjin. The Japanese occupation army sealed off the entire city, forbidding the locals to enter or leave the town; whenever they discovered a cholera patient, they would burn down the house along with the patient and his family inside. All of a sudden, a bustling metropolitan descended into a living hell, with a huge death toll recorded. A servant of my grandma's family was also infected with the disease when she went out to do some shopping and passed it on to my grandma's sister-in-law and her baby. Fortunately, they were eventually saved under the joint effort of both Western trained and TCM doctors.

Excerpt of original Chinese text by 池草







7) Cosmic Rays & Fengshui

Prev: Cosmic Rays & Epidemics - A Doctor's Story (5)
Next: Cosmic Rays & Fengshui - A Doctor's Story (7)


A Vegetarian Doll

This is not a peculiarly-designed and poorly crafted doll but the fleece-flower root (heshouwu 何首乌), dug out by a Chinese villager in Top High County (上高县蒙山乡陂下村), Jiangxi Province (江西省) on 25 March 2009.

Grown in most parts of China along the mountain streams and in valleys with thick shrubs, Fleece-flower roots are considered in Traditional Chinese Medicine as wonder plants that can bring positive effects to liver and kidney.

According to the classic Chinese medicine work Kaibao Herbal Medicine (《开宝本草》), compiled during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), regular intake of fleece-flower root can help strengthen bones, develop nerve cells, lower blood sugar, replenish liver function, enhance cholesterol metabolism, clear away toxins and restore the vitality, which are all essential for keeping a youthful figure and prolonging life.

(Source of info/photos: 中评社)

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