Observations and Comments

TCM China:

Observations and Comments





Live chat by LivePerson

Skype Account: tcmtreatment03







Letters to Friends, To Dr. Ming; Personal Observations and
Comments From an American Point of View

(George L Sammis, USA. September 19, 2009)

Monday September 14, 2009 from the Huaihua Red Cross Hospital, China.

Dear Dr. Ming,

The first thing to tell you is that we are more pleased with Michael's progress under your care than words can express.

A few days ago you came to our room and asked if you could use what I'd written to our friends and family on your website. You wanted to help others from the Western cultures to see what you are doing through the eyes of a Westerner.

I sent you a copy of these letters so that you better understood the reasons for our enthusiasm. My own understanding of medicine and medical practice comes only from experience gathered over a lifetime spent mainly in the USA.  My first glimpse into Traditional Chinese Medicine and its natural healing benefits came from working as a consultant in Guangdong Province off and on for about 6 years.  Most Americans and probably Europeans as well, might be dubious of Chinese healing arts because there is little frame of reference in the West except for the fact that over the last 10 years or longer, an industry sprung up with the opening of "Health Food and Nutrition Stores" selling herbal supplements, natural vitamins, minerals and so on. That industry is rapidly growing by quantum leaps.

(The rest of my letter to Dr. Ming is found in part throughout this narrative and in part at the end).

I was first taken to a TCM doctor in Hong Kong about 4 1/2 years ago by a Chinese friend. It sure didn't look anything like a doctor office to me. Instead, what I saw was a store-front with hundreds of glass jars filled with herbs beyond my description.  It reminded me of a candy store selling bulk candy when I was a small boy.  After passing through to the back, I sat with the doctor for an interview. He took my blood pressure and knowing I was diabetic a blood glucose reading as well. He had me breathe deeply, He listened to my chest for respiration and heart beat, took my pulse and performed a few tests with which I was most familiar.  At the end of that he began writing in Chinese characters on a piece of paper for maybe five minutes.  He handed it to me and sent me back out front to give it to the man behind the counter.  I was told to sit and wait.  The person behind the counter began gathering and weighing herbs from the jars and finished by boiling them into about pint or half a liter of "tea".  I was instructed to drink half of it when I returned to the hotel and the other half when I arose in the morning.  I was pleased when the pain from my nagging acid reflux was gone.  Simple, natural and it worked like crazy. I realized then that what the doctor had written in Chinese WAS his prescription.  I thought to myself "humm, customized herbal medicine, formulated just for me".

That experience, led me to look for an alternative for treatment when my step-son Michael was diagnosed with ALS in The Philippines about 3 months ago.  As we so well know, Western medicine has no solution for Lou Gehrig's disease. We were simply advised that he had maybe 3 to 5 years to live and that as his body deteriorated they would prescribe something for his pain. We were shocked, devastated and in fear.

Another alternative medical experience in my past deals with the inoperable colon cancer of my first wife when Mayo Clinic gave her 3 months to live and installed a morphine pump in her belly. That led to a Mexican clinic offering alternative care.  It ended where it began a year and a half later at Mayo when she insisted they remove the morphine pump because her tumor was gone. It was the first one they had ever removed.  So I was "not a slave" to Western medical practice and jumped on the internet for Michael to find you.

Neither am I as health-conscious as I should be. I never explored the health and nutrition stores being mainly oblivious to it. We do take a few vitamins and supplements often purchased at Walmart or the like on semi-annual trips back for business.  My primary diabetes doctor is there so I get comprehensive blood tests at least twice a year.  I spend a small fortune on modern medicine prescription drugs to keep my blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid and diabetes in check. Had I been Chinese, I might never have resorted to that stuff. But it is the system over there and I simply went along with it.  Perhaps many of the people who may read this acted little differently from me.

The letters that follow are self explanatory.

The first is a letter to my brother in Illinois.  We'd first exchanged the news on June 2, 2009. His wife manages a hospital lab in a small city southwest of Chicago.  They knew when Michael was first diagnosed, talked it over with some friends in medical service and explained a few things to me about ALS. I'd not had time to bring him up to speed for some time so decided he needed some history that he didn't know.  I wanted also to better explain why we sought a treatment so far removed from their realm of experience but he was well aware of the success we'd had in Mexico with his first sister-in-law.

Fri Aug 21, 2009 @ 8:20pm in Baguio

Hi Stu,

Sorry for the delay in responding to your last Email but I've been up to it in alligators since you wrote.

From what you said in the beginning and that which I'd seen on the internet, everything said that ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) is not treatable.  When we first got news of Michael's final diagnosis and I wrote you to advise family and friends, we'd only been home a day or two. We had to come back to Saipan because Ronald was on leave from the Air Force having been transferred from Korea to Okinawa.  We'd not seen him for six years and that was important to us too.  He'd been staying at our place in Saipan for two weeks before we got back as it was.

We returned from the Philippines after sorting out doctors stemming back to other visits beginning more than a year before that. Something was wrong with one of Michael's hands.  We first took him to the doctor in April, 2008, got x-rays and some pills.  On the visit last November he'd gotten worse. By then it was both hands and was almost as if the muscles in his hands were melting, they were wasting away. We went to more doctors and returned to Saipan just before Christmas.  Every time we called and Hilda spoke with Michael he would consistently say he was okay but his hands still bothered him. When we returned in April this year he could barely walk. We saw more but different doctors for the first month or so but we remembered taking his brother Jason to a neurologist so decided to see if she had any answers. Jeez, we should have started there because she wrote out a prescription and insisted we take him to St. Luke's Hospital in Manila, a first rate highly accredited facility, one of the best in Asia.  He got MRI's of the brain and spine along with an electromyogram. But we didn't have his final diagnosis until a day or two after we got home.  Michael's wife called sobbing and in grief after speaking with his neurologist in Baguio.  It was a few days later I first told you guys about it.

I was not sure what "motor neuron" disease or ALS really was so I searched the net. The first page I saw stated unequivocally that it was always fatal, usually in from 2 to 5 years of diagnosis. Essentially it was the same thing you said in our first Email exchange about it. I was shocked and it brought tears to my eyes the instant I read it.  Stephen Hawking the noted physicist from the UK (in a wheel chair) is the only person I'd ever heard of that was stricken with ALS and lived. Using Mom's thinking I considered that due to his important contributions to the understanding of cosmology and science that perhaps that his still being alive was a matter of divine intervention.

When I began the search for something to help Michael, I found only three choices:

1. A possibility discussed with Michael's wife was the implantation of stem cells.  It sounded like an option but from what I could learn, the cost of treatment was about $10,000 if done in China but I soon dropped it when I read elsewhere that it is not a cure but a temporary solution.  If his body was killing off motor neuron cells, it would also kill off the implanted cells over time because the root cause of the disease had not been addressed and the body would remain still afflicted with the disease itself.

2. Another potential solution was Traditional Chinese Medicine. It rang a bell.  I guess I never told you that at a stage, while working in China that I'd been to Chinese Medicine men twice, once in Hong Kong and later in Enping. I learned that the art of TCM natural healing is many thousands of years old and was the only medical knowledge or treatment in China prior to the age of modern medicine. Many traditional Chinese people have stayed with it to the exclusion of modern medicine. With a background and history over the centuries there has accumulated a vast sum of knowledge so this is nothing new, but the therapies change and evolve as diseases present themselves in modern day society.  I was drawn to this particular therapy because of a modest experience with it. So we took our first actions with TCM.

3. After getting started on the quest I bought a most insightful book called "Eric is Winning".  Contrary to what I'd read and what you told me, not everyone with ALS dies from it. In fact, according to the book many people survive it. It is written by a man from California who was diagnosed with ALS going on 20 years ago. He made up his mind that he was going to beat it, after getting the death sentence from his MD. It arrived mid-July but by then we were seeking Michael's passport in The Philippines. I began reading it in earnest on the flight to Manila to learn that the author figured it out for himself and he's helped others with the way he achieved it. It took him many years but he early concluded that the cause of ALS was toxins, potentially thousands of different ones, some in combination with others including things such as amalgam dental fillings (50% mercury, 35% silver and 15% other metals), air pollution, water pollution, living nearby toxic waste (such as in Guam), insect spray, herbicides, fluoride in the water, MSG, artificial sweeteners and many, many others.  He found ways including chelation to expel heavy metals and other toxins from his blood and organs.  He could follow his progress with hair analysis which identifies heavy metals, toxins and also what vitamins and minerals in the body are deficient.  Once toxin-free he proceeded to stay toxin free with a mainly fresh organic vegetarian diet, a lot of herbal supplements and so on.  He came to avoid fast food restaurants and prepared foods of all kinds because of the food additives. Becky, especially, would find his book most interesting. If she ever becomes aware of an ALS case where she works she should persuade the MD, neurologist or even the patient to read it. It would be helpful to anyone with a chronic illness.  So this was the third option and no doubt a viable one but we'd already taken action.  Besides, I'd seen a correlation between what he did for himself and the natural herbal cleansing of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The book is in its 9th printing and is likely widely spread among PALS around the globe.  It coins the term PALS meaning "People with ALS" a term often seen and used much on the internet.

We began our journey with Traditional Chinese Medicine a month or so before I read the book and Michael was already experiencing some good benefits with their "tea" which he began using mid-June.  Also there is a Chinese Hospital in Baguio involved mainly in Western Medicine but they also do acupuncture and medical massage.   Michael was confined there for two weeks, after which we continued his acupuncture and massage treatments 10 days on, 10 days off, but he used the Chinese "tea" every day morning and evening throughout. By the time he came home his pain had mainly subsided.

Before the first batch of herbs ran out we ordered the second batch. Michael¨s wife wondered if they sent the right stuff because it didn't taste the same and he was a bit nauseous to it at first. I wrote back and asked. Sure enough, they had used our descriptions of his reactions to the first batch and wanted details about his current condition. They modified the second one as a part of their continually evolving medical plan for patients.  The third batch changed yet again.

We'll talk more about this when we see one another but this is the short version of the story so far. It appears for all the world that Michael is responding well and may be on the road to putting it into remission.

Love ya' bro,


Now to what I said to my close friend Phil Stone, a chemist by trade.  He is both analytical and creative. I deal with Phil in business. He's had three close friends die of ALS.  He didn't say, but I know him well enough to think that he was skeptical that anything could be done to save Michael:

Monday Aug 31 @ 10:30pm in Hunan Province

Hi Phil,

Without writing a whole lot of paragraphs I just wanted you to know that bringing Michael for these Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments is the best decision I ever made.  When we arrived in Baguio he had greatly improved on the herbs from China and the acupuncture and massage he got in Baguio.  His color was back, he was speaking more clearly, he could walk at least a hundred yards, his pain was gone, he was eating like a horse and he looked like a new man to us after not seeing him for 2.5 months. His hands were still next to worthless as I'd noticed the day we got his passport when in my own unthinking, he could not use his key to unlock the door of the house.  He also dragged his feet but damit, he could walk.  Coming over here we had 4 airports to negotiate, a terminal change in Tokyo and in Guangzhou we had to do it twice because of a forced overnight.  We used wheel chairs to get him around.

We arrived last Thursday about 6pm.  His med team met with us on Friday morning, interviewed and examined him and set their initial course of action. The day starts at 9am when his doctor comes to the room.  He's examined again and is asked to perform a various range of motion tasks such as lifting his arms as high as he can, holding them out at 90 degrees, he is asked to spread and move his fingers, stick out his tongue, do a couple of knee and elbow bends and simple things like that. It's followed by the doctor jerking his arms, legs and so on and wanting to know exactly where it hurt.  The acupuncturist is present and he gives his explicit instructions as to exactly what he wants done.  I'm pretty sure the formula for the herbs is changed from day to day in order to target exactly what the doc is trying to accomplish.  At 3pm the acupuncturist arrives and begins to carry out the doctors instructions. Immediately following that he is given a medical massage. The process takes about an hour.

His first treatment began Friday afternoon.  The routine changes a bit every day so now he's had just 4 days of it.  He's improved maybe 50% from the day we left Baguio!  This morning, Hilda nudged me to notice that he was putting on his own clothes.  Then he put on his sneakers and more surprisingly began slowly but deliberately tying the shoe laces with hands that hadn't worked the week before. We both watched in utter amazement.  He's not been able to do that for probably close to year now, since long before the original diagnosis. The first thing I noticed is that he is now laughing out loud and beginning to enjoy himself. I'll bet he could now walk a kilometer unaided, albeit slowly.  Arliss is staging a formal wedding in Baguio on December 5th.  I told Michael today that if he wanted to impress the gathered throng, he might do a little running for them. I'm quite sure that on the return trip at the end of the month he will walk through those same airports going back.

I'm no longer worried about going to Iowa for two months.  We'll take back his current formula of herbs and even though the acupuncture in Baguio won't be so well directed, I think he will continue to improve after we leave. And we are prepared for setbacks.  I was able to get multiple entry visas for maximum 3 month stays, good for the next 12 months by having prepared a 3/4" inch thick set of documentation. With 11 expired China Visas in my current passport and Hilda with six of them in hers it let them know we knew the rules and not to over stay.  The best I ever got while working in China was a 3 month multiple good for maximum stay of 30 days. If he even gives a hint of going backwards we will bring him back here in a heartbeat without hindrance or delay.

This place has only 20 patient rooms but they are in the process of constructing a much larger facility.  So far, over the last 3-4 years since they opened the International Department, they have treated more than 300 ALS and chronic illness patients.  As they go home, family and friends are impressed with their progress, the word spreads and more people are beating a path to their door.  The people in the room next to us have been here for two months and are leaving at the end of the week.  Their daughter has been being treated for epilepsy.  The parents are thrilled with her progress.  They learned of this facility through a friend who came here with ALS and they were so amazed by his progress they inquired what could be done for their daughter.

The real inspiration to us is hanging out with the other ALS patients who are in various stages of treatment. We've seen a few use wheel chairs, one with a cane, another with a crutch but most of them walk on their own two feet and many quite normally.  We were fortunate to have started Michael on the herbs and acupuncture more than two months before we got here.  Most of them begin their recovery the day they arrive.  A man from Finland is here as a student to hone his acupuncture skills. He doesn't treat ALS or deal with herbs but he remarked that it was nice that Michael had such a light case of ALS.  When I told him he'd been on the regimen a bit longer than two months back home and that he couldn't talk and be understood, he couldn't dress himself, at times he couldn't feed himself, he couldn't walk 10 feet, he had a hard time swallowing and had been in ferocious pain, etc, he understood it for what it had been. Every single ALS patient here has a story to tell and all of them say they have been helped.  Most stay 2-3 months. If you ever have another friend with ALS, don't hesitate to have them contact me.

So that's the story for now, Phil.  No doubt there will be more in the weeks ahead.


The next letter is in response to something I said in Email to a man most knowledgeable about ALS.  We'd met by Email on the internet about a different subject.  He was amazed at my description of Michael's rapid progress and wanted to know more about the clinic and what they do.

Excerpted from my reply:

Sept 1, 2009 @ 6pm in Hunan Province

Thanks for your message above and yes, WE ARE ECSTATIC about the rapid progress of our son Michael.  I'm more than happy to communicate what I know about this place with you. I'll give you a link so you can weigh what I've said against what they say about themselves. In chasing links on the net I ran across a blogger, supposedly a PALS, saying that the book, many of the herbal retailers, the stem cell treatments in China and this place were all money scams for personal immoral enrichment.  It boiled my buns. First, I know from business that authors of books receive royalties or if they publish themselves still receive only a fraction of the retail book price.  The book is definitely not a scam nor is the herbal supplement dealer he named.

As for this Chinese Hospital, their mission is strictly limited to the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  They know exactly what their healing art is and they know "Modern Medicine" has no answer for PALS.  This place is not High Tech, rather it is Ancient Wisdom Tech.  There are no visible signs that they make big money doing this. They wear simple clothing, their personal cars are average to less than that. They work long hours and believe 1,000% in what they are doing. There is nothing here as opulent as an average American doctor¨s office.  In improving the lives of PALS and other chronic sufferers it takes some time to administer their own style of natural healing so it is inadvisable to come here for a very short time. To give you some examples that the motivation is not money:

The room cost AND treatment is $70 per day. Like most Asian care facilities they encourage patients to bring a caregiver to stay with the patient and the cost to do that is an extra $10 per day. They would like new patients to stay at least a month but longer is better. There is no charge to the patient for herbs, acupuncture, massage or anything else while they are staying here. I'll point out that you are on your own dime for food, laundry or other personal necessities. They take caregivers and/or patients shopping for two hours three times a week as many prefer to use the kitchen to do their own cooking or use their washing machines to do their laundry. They can provide those services along with 24 hr nursing or meals at additional cost.  Each room is equipped with high speed internet access at no extra cost. So they are hardly getting rich. I'm a businessman so asked a few questions to quickly learn they get miffed if you refer to it as a business!

I'll give you the link at this point so can explore it for yourself.  I learned from Dr. Ming that he made most of the web site himself when they first opened. Realize that some of the pages are older but the main ALS page was updated this year.  Dr. Ming is a fairly young man who realized that in order to deal with the West he HAD to learn to speak and write English. The staff of TCM doctors and the experts he brought on board speak no English. They spent their time in school and after in pursuit of learning and teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine, all of which has been handed down in Chinese writings over the centuries.  Rather, the doctor comes to the room with an interpreter and the acupuncturist. The link has a couple of short home made videos of interviews with patients. I didn't click on them until today because of slow internet speed in both Saipan and Baguio.  When I watched them they fairly present exactly how it is here.

Of course you have my complete permission to post anything I say to you for the betterment of other PALS.


His team of experts have "some skins on the wall". They are well schooled, have written published papers and so on.  In the West we can't have a good understanding or appreciation of how highly regarded they are in TCM.  The man next down from the top (Professor Yang) is Michael's doctor. I see him often in Michael's room when he is being treated and noticed that his herb prescriptions change every day or so and the focus of the acupuncture changes as well.


I'll also point out that the term "Red Cross" in their hospital name is a distinction granted them by the Chinese Ministry of Health, something earned, not just said in words.

I think several things that contributed to Michael's quicker than usual success is that I got in touch with this place within a week of diagnosis.  The holdup in getting him here sooner was that it took about two months getting his Philippine passport. While we were waiting he was taking his prescription herbs morning and evening and he was getting acupuncture and massage locally.

Another thing that no doubt helped was the near poverty of the family over there - meaning that they eat mainly rice and vegetables.  Michael is 40.  Earlier in life he had some dental fillings, but as his teeth began to worsen he had them removed because it was less expensive than the fix. The family is too poor to have any excesses. All his life he's been technically disabled due to hearing loss.  At less than 2 years old his natural father whacked him across the head for crying and he's been stone deaf in that ear despite corrective surgery we got him shortly after I married his mother.  His work has always been physical labor doing construction for his uncle or on the family farm or digging for gold on family land.  (A common thing in the mountain province because the commercial mine leases start at 20 feet below the surface so the land holders are free to dig on their own land). We think his ALS stems from regularly using mercury.

Oh, another thing that might be contributing to his recovery is the fact that no one, not his wife, his doctor or any of his family ever told him the likely outcome in 2-5 years. He's had no idea of what trouble he's been in. His own belief of what happened is that about 2 years ago he slipped and fell. When he landed he no doubt sprained his wrist - which never improved probably because of the onset of ALS.  He figured that it poisoned his body somehow and spread, causing the other deterioration of his body. I've long believed that for some, "ignorance is bliss" so we left him with his own thoughts about it.

I tend to think that early treatment here will bring early results.   For the longer term PALS in wheelchairs who claim improvement, it's a big win for them too.  As my friend Phil would say about his own inventions "this is science, not magic".

If anyone writes me Email if you choose to post any of this, trust that I will answer as promptly and as correctly and honestly as I know how.  I'm no shill for anybody.  As a consultant working on the fringe of the Orient my main mode of communication is Email. Some days it feels like I've been responding to Emails for a hundred years.

Faithfully, and in friendship,



A Final Note To Dr. Ming:

I knew your objective in asking permission to include my letters on your web site.  The substance of the above comes mainly from those letters. I added some paragraphs to include my first experience with TCM in Hong Kong so that potential  readers might have a better idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine from the view of a  layman. I re-arranged the order of precisely what I sent you and cleaned up some of the phrasing and grammar.  Also included here is a letter sent to my brother in August telling him what we settled on for Michael, and why.

I'm thankful for this opportunity to share this with people inquiring about your century's old healing art.  For us it is working even better than hoped and I know from the patients I meet in the halls or the courtyard that not one person with whom we've spoken voiced any negative comments to us.  Let this serve as both our testimonial and our personal endorsement. It may not work for everyone but it is sure working for Michael and many of the people I've met here.  Keep up the good work!