Invigorating 2000-year-old TCM
Ella Tan | On 31, Jan 2015
Standardization, or the lack of it, has long been the bugbear of TCM practice. Bao Zhong Tang TCM Centre, a joint venture between SingHealth and the Shanghai Hospital Development Centre (SHDC) has made inroads by redesigning processes and systems.
We ask: Joanna Liew, Chinese Physician and Manager of Bao Zhong Tang, Premium TCM Centre
Ms Joanna Liew was from the pioneer batch of graduates of the exclusive joint double-degree programme offered by Nanyang Technological University (NTU, Singapore) and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (China). She did her clinical internship in integrated Western and Chinese medicine in a Beijing hospital.
“In 2011 we launched a standardization of Chinese medicine involving herb quality assurance, clinical practice and dispensing. We called it 3G, Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Dispensing Practices and Good Clinical Practices.
“For patients who need to travel or who live abroad, it can be difficult to brew herbs or inconvenient to carry the brewed medicine (liquid form), so we can also dispense granules of individual herbs, eg 3g or 6g as required.
“For patients with chronic but stable medical conditions, or patients who would like to improve their health, we can prepare customized paste medicine known as Gaofang （膏方）. While popular in Shanghai and Beijing, in Singapore, we are the first centre to bring in the expertise to produce customized paste medicine”. Our paste is based on individually prescribed and customized prescription and processed by our pharmacy. It takes 7-14 days to make as the process is tedious, requiring slow condensing and concentrating. However, the benefits are worth the effort as the resulting medicine is released slowly and with a slow nourishing effect. It treats effectively without being overpowering.
“We have qualified dispensers whose role is similar to that of a western-trained pharmacist. The dispenser ensures that the correct herbs and dosage are dispensed to each patient. We require two qualified dispensers to counter-check every prescription. As the names of the herbs might be different depending on regions, dialects or medical hall, we do not encourage patients to repeat the prescription by purchasing the herbs on their own without the knowledge of the attending physician. Now, we only release names of the herbs but not the exact dosage because if one’s condition has changed after taking the herbal medicine, the prescription might need to be accordingly adjusted. Thus, if the patient goes to a different physician, the physician can use the previous prescription as a cross-reference and decide on the dosage.”