Practitioner feature: Dr. Kaiyan Li at Healing Pond Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Centre
Dr. Kaiyan (Carrie) Li
Founder of Healing Pond Health Centre
Lecturer at Endeavour College of Natural Health
Ph.D. Sc; BHSc (Chinese Medicine)
Share with us how you discover your passion for Chinese Medicine.
I officially began my journey in 1993 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1998 at The Guangzhou University of TCM. From then on, I had spent nearly 10 years working in The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of TCM before immigrating to Australia. I’ve been practicing Chinese Medicine in Victoria since then.
My passion for this profession was of no surprise to those around me - the legacy has been passed down from my great-grandfather to my grandfather, to my father and then finally to me! I’m a fourth-generation medical practitioner.
Since young, I have held a really deep interest in Chinese medicine because I have observed my father’s practice and how it has helped treat a variety of sicknesses within the community. Having the first-hand experience of healing properties of Chinese medicine led me to the mindset of: “Okay! I will be a doctor and continue this legacy someday!” [Laughs]
How have you combined the knowledge of Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine?
I do believe in an integrated practice of both Chinese and Western medicine. I worked in the emergency department for 3 years, and in acute stages of an illness, Western clinical methods are necessary for emergency purposes. When the patient’s stage of illness becomes more stable, Chinese medicine treatments are able to act as synergists with Western approaches to manage the recovery processes. At the end of the day, it is essential for all fields of health sciences to understand the root causes of the health condition for effective therapeutic outcomes.
What are some of your favourite herbs or formulas to use?
That is a good question. I specialised in asthma management, so I use a lot of herbs and formulas from the “Shang Han Lun”, like Gui Zhi Tang, modified Xiao Qing Long Tang etc.
Another area of focus in my practice is on the treatment of allergic conditions, so Xiao Feng San is another fabulous formula we commonly use.
Over the years in Australia, we have observed more female patients seeking treatment for women’s health conditions. For example, if the diagnosis is blood stagnation with a recurring condition, I might use Xue Fu Zhu Yu Wan or Tao Hong Si Wu Tang.
With the recent pandemic, we have also seen more general patients requesting for stress-related issues, so Xiao Yao Wan pills have been more frequently prescribed.
The type of herbs and formulas also depends on the season. In winter I enjoy using warming herbs, and in summer, mostly cooling herbs.
What are the clinical challenges you have faced during the pandemic?
One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that we follow the regulations from The Department of Health while still being open to the public. As most of our appointments are held in person, we need to protect both our staff and clients.
One of our preventative methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to enforce regular face mask-wearing, eye protection, and patient screening whenever a booking is made. Additionally, we use UV light in each room after each appointment, as UV light can sterilize surfaces as well as air. In our practice, we also use a variety of herbs to strengthen the immune system of our patients during this ongoing battle with COVID.
Do you think Chinese Medicine holds the right esteem within the eyes of the general public?
I believe it depends on individuals. Some people are quite open to alternative medicine like Chinese medicine, whilst others remain conservative towards Chinese medicine. If people understand more about the history of Chinese medicine that spans over 3000 years, they can appreciate and perhaps acknowledge how effective it has been at protecting the public from health conditions. The efficacy of medical practice doesn’t necessarily have to be proved via laboratory methods or through animal trials – there are many fields in medicine that is still yet to be uncovered and studied upon, so using current testing methods may not yield the most promising results even though it has withheld the test of time. When practiced by a registered Chinese medicine doctor, it is safe and effective for meeting well-being needs.
How do you educate others about the efficacy of Chinese Medicine with its longstanding culture and history? Since most people are more concerned about whether they would get healthier faster, but have failed to recover or stay healthy with other treatments?
Most of our clients come to us with a story of “I have tried everything and heard that Chinese Medicine may be able to help. Is this possible?”. Although it isn’t one of the first-line treatments in Australia, as Chinese Medicine practitioners we try our best to explain the difference in theories and concepts between Eastern and Western medicine, and that there is a reason as to why Chinese Medicine has been an ongoing practice for thousands of years even if it has not been effectively tested using western approaches.
I find that once patients experience benefits first-hand, such as instant relief from pain, they become more open to this field of medicine and begin to form a trust for our methods.
I am familiar with this because I have juggled a combination of being involved in the researching and educating roles in universities over the course of my academic and professional journey.
One of my next milestones is to use a variety of different communication methods to broadcast the intricacies of Chinese Medicine to a wider audience using layman’s terms - it’s not just about Ying and Yang, as people may think.
For this to happen, Chinese Medicine practitioners need to act as a bridge between Eastern and Western medicine to foster a harmonious connection.
So do you think, with the promotional efforts directed towards Chinese medicine, and how it’s still seen as unconventional, do you think the general public is sufficiently aware of Chinese medicine’s health benefits?
No, I don’t think so. However, people are gradually becoming much more open to Chinese Medicine. I recall that there was a 5-year-old client who said, when he saw us using He Gu LI4, “Oh, I know that point, my teacher said this is good for headaches.” [Laughs] This is a good start; in the future, they might be even more open to Chinese medicine. But for this to be more widespread we definitely need more public education and more voices, to let the people understand health as a whole picture.
What does the future of Chinese Medicine look like for you?
I would hope to see Chinese medicine being more imbued into Western society. It would be great to see this type of integration within the health community.
I believe this would require the current and future practitioners to cultivate a nurturing environment to soil the seeds of education. By continuing to share our knowledge and background with others, it will lead us into a society of integrating both modalities. Akin to cultivating a beautiful forest, the seedlings of the trees need good sunlight, water, and fertilizer.
And that would let everyone contribute to making this happen?
Yes exactly! We’re working just toward one goal: Improving human health. Everyone has a different path to achieving health and we would like to be there to cater to their needs.