Thursday, February 26, 2009

Doc Hay

Today we bring you the story of Ing Hay, an herbal doctor from China who lived in Oregon in the late 1800's. He established an excellent reputation as a doctor despite the violent racism of the time.

He was the most famous Herbalist between San Francisco and Seattle in his day. He was a master of pulse diagnosis. Doc Hay could tell his patients what was wrong with them just by feeling the pulse in their arm. Then he would prepare an herbal mixture from local plants and herbs from China. Doc Hay was blind. When he shut the building up in 1948 to go to the nursing home, Doc Hay left behind over 500 different herbs, many that have never been identified.
-Kam Wah Chung Museum

What's interesting to me is that Doc Hay used both "local plants and herbs from China." An important part of Chinese medicine is to use an appropriate treatment according to your geographic location. For instance, what happens when your grandma who's lived in Queens all her life retires? She moves to Florida! Because the winters are too harsh in New York. Florida is much warmer and easier on the joints. All living things are a part of their environment and respond to their environment in different ways.

Doc Hay didn't only use Chinese herbs, he educated himself about the local herbs in his environment. In this way he was a naturalist as well as an herbalist. In southern California we have many native healing plants, sage being one of the most well-known.

No comments: