Chinese Herbal Medicine

A Visit to a Chinese Doctor


The next appointment was similar to my previous.  The doctor asked us, mostly Winnie, about our reactions to the herbal prescriptions and then conducted another pulse-checking exam on both of us.  He again asked my permission to prescribe an herbal potion and I again agreed.  This time, he suggested a two week supply as it was difficult for us to get to D.C.

He also explained that he would be adding an ingredient to my prescription to “make my sex stronger.”  As before, he faxed over our prescriptions and after our appointment Winnie and I walked to the Chinese shop.  Again, I watched as the pharmacist set out the salads of white minerals, tree bark, dried insects, plant roots, and indescribable items that would have been violently thrown away had I unknowingly encountered them lying around the house.

This time, he added a separate bag of shredded Ginseng root to my prescription.  The instructions to Winnie were to prepare the shredded Ginseng as a “tea” separate from my main potions.  So for the next two weeks; twice each day I drank the noxious oily black potion, followed by a dose of refreshing (not) Ginseng tea.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine

A week following the completion of this regiment I returned, alone, to the Chinese doctor.  Winnie had just started a job and was working that day so she made an appointment for me only.  This appointment was a little difficult without Winnie to help interpret, but I knew the doctor and routine well enough that we managed.

The doctor explained that my liver and kidneys were “getting stronger,” and wanted to help my “sex” more.  He once again prescribed a two week regiment for me.  Once again, for a 30 minute Saturday afternoon doctor’s office visit, I paid $20.00 flat.

This time, my two-week prescription included not only the standard salad mix and the shredded Ginseng, each day’s supply also included a matchbox-sized box containing a block of substance that looked like amber rock.  The one shopkeeper who could speak English explained I needed to take the substance separate from the rest of the medicine, one block each day in several doses.  This time, between the two-week supply of salad mix, shredded Ginseng, and matchbox-sized blocks of “rock,” I paid about $130.00.

I learned that the “rock” was actually prepared deer antler.  The Chinese consider deer antler an aphrodisiac, one that apparently is readily obtainable and relatively inexpensive.  All I will say about this is that it appeared to actually work as an aphrodisiac, without any of the negative side effects we’ve all learned about by watching Viagra commercials.  (Note to Advertisers: Over the age of 50 an erection lasting longer than four hours is not a problem.  Really.)

Back at home, Winnie read the instructions, and explained that the deer antler needed to be mixed with meat so it wouldn’t “hurt my stomach.”  To prepare the antler required crushing it into small pieces so we could divide it into at least two daily doses.  After unsuccessfully beating it with a meat crusher on the counter-top, I used a 16 oz claw hammer with the block of antler lying on the floor wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.  We were on the top floor of our apartment building with a linoleum-covered wooden kitchen floor, and beating the antler with a hammer still wasn’t wildly successful in breaking it up.  So then I took it outside on the sidewalk, still wrapped in a plastic bag, and used my hammer again with several neighbors idly watching.  This time, I managed to break the small block of antler into enough pieces that we could divide it into portions.

Winnie prepared the antler by boiling it with ground beef.  After boiling for a while, the antler melted first into a liquid that I could just barely taste over the flavor of the beef.  I had to eat it while warm as once the mix cooled off the antler would congeal again and be nearly inedible.  It wasn’t a “bad” taste.  It had a flat taste that was so bland it seemed to suck out flavor from the meat.

Winnie and I worked through the two week supply of salad, Ginseng, and deer antler.  I began to notice a positive difference in how I felt, but preparing everything was a lot of work for Winnie and me. By the time we finished the two week supply, it was nearing Christmas and I didn’t have the opportunity to return until well into January.

I made several more return visits to the doctor during the latter part of January, 2007, and well into March.  Sometimes Winnie was with me, sometimes I was alone.  By the end of February Winnie and I had purchased a house and were busy moving in, so we agreed not to make any more doctor visits.  Winnie wasn’t convinced that her prescriptions did her any good, and to be honest I think she was tired of all the work involved in preparing my various mixes.  I was honestly tired of drinking the stuff, and really tired of trying to break up the deer antler into portion-sized pieces every few days.

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