More and more Germans are turning to traditional Chinese medicine for relief of their ailments. While doubts remain and insurers don't usually pay, patients who've experienced its healing power are hooked.
Insurers remain skeptical as patients go traditional
After his Wednesday morning appointment at Dr. Hung Lü's acupuncture clinic in Bonn, Thomas Weimann grabs his suit jacket and passes an oriental wall tapestry on his way out of the treatment room, while Lü prepares for the next patient in her office. "See you on Friday," he says as he heads to work.
Weimann has been receiving treatments for his back and shoulder pain from Lü for about two months. "Call it a Chinese miracle, I don't know -- my pain disappeared," he said.
A middle-aged account manager for an auto supplier, Weimann had tried various treatments, including massage and pills, to ease his pain, with only partial results. Although his pain decreased with hospital treatments, it never really went away. Frustrated, he searched the Internet for alternative medical treatments and discovered traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Weimann made his first appointment without hesitation. "It was a totally unemotional decision and I wasn't afraid," he said, having been convinced that it would do the trick.
The medical traditions common to China are deeply connected to the culture and range from acupunture to herbal and dietary solutions
Like many in Germany, Weimann has turned to TCM for the age-old healing powers of acupuncture, herbal remedies, relaxation and detoxification treatments.
TCM is rooted in age-old Chinese healing remedies. Lü, whose mother is a doctor in China and who herself has practiced TCM since shortly after coming to Germany 18 years ago, said, "It's an important part of Chinese culture."
Importing age-old traditions
As the number of patients seeking alternative treatments increases, more and more German doctors are beginning to offer TCM techniques. Dr. Angela Redlich, who runs a TCM practice in Berlin and studied TCM in China, said people seek out TCM if other more mainstream methods haven't worked, or if they want something that doesn't have side effects.
The most common ailments treated are migraines, bronchitis, aches and pains of the back and joints as well as gastro-intestinal problems. Practitioners sometimes combine acupuncture, herbs and nourishment treatments as well as suggest Quigong, a popular type of relaxation exercise. The duration also varies from one to 20 or more treatments.
Continue reading to see what insurers say about TCM