Asian alternative medicines  is  everywhere in Vietnam. The rush for alternative medicines and health treatments appears to be bordering on a stampede at the moment. It appears that people will try just about anything. Unfortunately adding the word Asian into the mix seems to propagate the myths even further. Acupuncture clinics are of course worldwide phenomena nowadays, but even in my hometown of Manchester, it is the ones in Chinatown that do the best business. Nobody ever seems willing to accept the placebo effect as a reason for any perceived efficacy, yet they are willing to accept any old nonsense as long as it makes them feel better. Personally I think it is all baloney!

Rhino Horn and Tiger Penis

Rhino Horn disgusting cruelty in the name of virility

This is surely one of  the cruelest of Asian alternative medicines. For hundreds of years Asian men have taken these products in the belief that it will improve their sexual performance. Why any form of ceratin, in the case of rhino horn, would improve blood flow to a penis is utterly beyond those of us with any reasoning powers. The fact that they are willing to butcher magnificent beasts like rhinoceros or tigers to get it, diminishes humanity. These men should realise that their chances of getting any woman into bed, should they know what they have been taking, would be also diminished. To paraphrase Robin Williams it is like nature’s little joke that man has one brain and one penis and only enough blood to fuel one or the other.


Homeopathy, diluted thinking

This one’s a doozy. They take a medicine, dilute it to the nth degree, then dilute it again and again until nothing but water is left. Then they treat you with that, and hey presto your illness disappears. Really? Think about this one for a second or two. Big Pharmaceutical could either sell you expensive drugs at inflated prices, or they could dilute them a million times and make a much larger profit, but they simply choose to give you more than you need. Next time you visit one of these charlatans, wait until they give you the bill, then pay them a hundredth of 1% of their invoice and tell them that they will get the same benefit. One of the most popular of Asian alternative medicines.

Fish Spas

Fish-spa, popualr among holiday makers

I first saw these in Bangkok, where they are popular among certain holiday types. It possibly does, on some level, work. However, for God’s sake, why would anyone other than a backpacker in search of that unusual photo opportunity, or someone with a weird foot fetish ever consider it? You stick a load of fish in a fish tank and then dangle your feet in. The fish eat the dead skin and ‘process’ it in the normal manner. The more customers the more fish excrement in the tank. Generally this swirls round in the bottom of filthy fish tanks, waiting for the next customer. Athletes foot, warts, corns, verrucas and all other kinds of unsavoury ailments are chewed off, digested and excreted, then you place your pinkies in the resultant fish shit soup. Not for me, I’m afraid. I stick to washing my feet, properly.


Reflexology: Funny how there is no part of the feet that relates to the feet

Chances are if you live in Saigon and have been for a massage, then this is one of the Asian alternative medicines that you will know already. The therapists claim that every tiny bit of your feet is connected to different parts of your body and by applying pressure, they can cure any problems that you may be experiencing. They basically shove a pointed stick into the soles of your feet. When it hurts they claim that is because you have a problem. I have a problem; it bloody hurts! Every time I have to stop them. “You have a problem in your stomach”, the therapist will claim. “No, I have a problem with you ramming pointed objects into my feet”, I reply. I once asked a therapist if “every” part of your body is connected. “Yes” she replied, “Even your penis”. Fifteen minutes later, nothing! It’s hogwash.

One of the latest Asian alternative medicines - Ear Candling

Candling, stick that in your ear and smoke it

Candling has suddenly become one of the buzzwords in ‘clinics’ throughout the city of Saigon. Asian people have indulged in this rubbish for donkey’s years of course, but for Westerners to suddenly start believing is almost beyond belief. This practice has been proven time and again to be nothing short of a con trick, but people are queuing up to have a lighted candle shoved in their aural passages, for God knows what purpose. Its proponents claim that the candle produces a vacuum, which hoovers out all the unwanted wax from ones ears. Scientific evidence has proved that the amount of vacuum needed would collapse the eardrum and render the patient deaf. The practitioners proudly showed the wax that they have sucked out, those of us with common sense realise they are looking at candle wax residue. Still there are people queuing up to receive Asian alternative medicines like this.

Snail Therapy

Snail trails, nothing else needs to be said

What next? You might ask. Well the answer is to allow snails to slither all over your face leaving their slimy residue behind, because this will improve your beauty and maintain your youthful appearance. Unbelievably, hundreds of Asian women are actually falling for this. The Asian obsession with staying out of the sun has seen quite a surge of interest in this latest form of collective madness. They claim it can stop damage from sunburn and keep you looking younger. There appears to be no end to the stupidity of people.

The list seems to be growing and these ridiculous practices are becoming more and more desperate. People are so desperate to find cures for genuine or perceived illnesses that they will try anything. None of them work, none of them are recognised by any sensible medical practitioner except for their placebo effect. And before I get the usual complaining emails letters and posts from people saying “it worked for me”, no it didn’t! However, I bet it worked for the Chinese pharmacist, reflexologist, homeopathist, fish spa owner, ear candler and snail therapist!

Do you know what they call Alternative Medicine that works? . . . . . . . . . . . Medicine.