One of the things we love most about living in Singapore is how it draws on the best ideas from a range of cultures. Case in point: Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is readily accessible, even to us Westerners who previously wouldn’t have known the difference between heatiness and heat stroke!
We sat down with Neo Min Jun, a Registered TCM Physician from Eu Yan Sang TCM Child-Friendly Clinics, to find out a bit more about her approach to treating kids, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices, and her top recommended home remedies for mamas with sick little ones!
What is your training? How does it differ from Western medicine doctors?
My training includes 5 years of a double degree course in Biomedical Science and Chinese Medicine at Nanyang Technological University. The Biomedical Science Honors degree gave me basic research and Western medicine knowledge. The last 2 years of the Chinese medicine degree were conducted at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Clinical internships were done in both Beijing and Singapore.
Upon graduation and obtaining the TCM physician license, EYSIH conducted a 1-year residency programme where I was attached to senior physicians to further enhance my clinical skills. I integrate both Western and Chinese medicine knowledge into my practice.
What are the most common ailments that you see in your young patients? How do you treat these various ailments?
More than 80% of the young patients we see at our Child-Friendly Clinics suffer from digestive and respiratory conditions. This includes common flu, chronic cough, diarrhea, fever and poor appetite. Generally prescribed herbal medication in powder form is used to treat these ailments. The prescribed herbal medication will be a mixture of herbs, which cater specifically to the child’s body constitution and the presenting condition. (This also means that two children may present similar symptoms but be prescribed different herbal medications.)
In addition to oral medication, TCM also uses non-intrusive Pediatric Tui Na (小儿推拿, a combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation) to treat these maladies. Both treatments are also used in general wellness to help build up the child’s immunity against common ailments and diseases.
Do you modify your approach in treating children as compared to treating adults with TCM therapies?
The approach in treating children is similar to adults as we use the same TCM diagnostic methods. These include observing, hearing and smelling, inquiring about the signs and symptoms, as well as pulsing.
However, there are some additional points to take note for children. In TCM theory, children’s lungs, spleen and kidneys are weaker in Qi (气) as they are still growing and have yet to fully develop. Hence more attention will be given to these areas. Plus, the amount of prescribed herbal medication is customised according to the age, body build, weight and condition of the child. The course of disease also tends to change faster, and their conditions may deteriorate suddenly or fluctuate rapidly, hence timely treatments are crucial.
What are some simple home remedies you can recommend for mamas to have on hand for treating sick little ones?
Here are some TCM-based healthy food remedies for children. They can be used when the child is not having fever or acute aliments:
- For poor appetite: Si Shen Powder (四神粉) can be used to increase appetite of children and help build up the spleen’s Qi for a healthier digestive system.
- For heaty constitution: Brew a honeysuckle and chrysanthemum (3-5g each) drink for kids after a day out in the sun, or when the child has mild sore throat symptoms.
- For nourishing the lungs: Lily bulb and white fungus dessert are great for children with chronic dry cough and dry throat.
However, if the child is ill, I’d strongly recommend consulting a doctor or physician.
Thank you! You can find Neo Min Jun at Eu Yan Sang’s TCM Wellness Clinic at Novena, and at their brand new Child-Friendly TCM Clinic at Simei.