Doris Rathgeber, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, gives her prescriptions in three languages: German, English and, of course, Chinese.
As the city's first foreigner to run a TCM clinic, she said she puts all her energy into treating her patients.
"I love my patients, and I love treating them with TCM," said the 39-year-old, who has lived in the city for about 10 years and launched her clinic in August.
Before coming here from Germany with her husband, she had a successful career selling information technology systems.
But her life began to change dramatically in 1997, when a friend suggested her to attend an international course at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
At first, she just wanted to learn some simple massage techniques to relieve her husband's work fatigue.
"But as a tireless pursuer of perfection, it's hard for me to retreat in the middle," she said.
Rathgeber was the only European in her class. The other students were overseas Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans.
"Listening was no longer a problem after studying Chinese for two years, but reading and writing were not easy," she recalled. "The characters in ancient medical books, whose meanings differ a lot from modern language, were beyond understanding."
To deal with these obstacles, she consulted various dictionaries, asked friends numerous questions and recited from morning until midnight.
During the five years when she worked for her degree, she managed to read many TCM classics and memorize all the important Chinese medicines, their features and effects, as well as the names of the bones and organs.
She learned by heart the essence of TCM, which focuses on keeping a proper balance. She lives by its rules and, moreover, converts other foreigners to its merits.
"Words are no use. Only after they come to me, receive the treatment and are cured by TCM can they start to believe," she said. "They can see at my clinic that modern TCM diagnosis and treatment is not just feeling the patient's pulse, but a system involving the most advanced equipment in Western medicine."
She said she hopes to expand her clinic, adding labs for liver and kidney testing.
"Making a whole series of diagnoses with both Chinese and Western medicines is what I'll try to provide my patients in the future," she said.
(Shanghai Daily January 7, 2005)