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All the way from deepest China, a traditional medicine practitioner is creating a buzz around his natural healing clinic in Co. Kildare.

According to our reader survey from the 2013 edition, people wanted to know more about alternative health, herbal cures and natural remedies. So sticking with this topic, we are looking at a day in the life of Hong Wei Shi, a Chinese medicine practitioner, who has set up a practice in Co Kildare. Blind from birth, he is very well known in China for his curing abilities. People travelled from far and wide in China to seek his healing hands. However after falling in love with one of our own, he has set up shop here in Ireland. His Irish wife, Lara Deasy, helps to translate for us.


What is your history with the healing arts?

 My grandfather and great grandfather were both Chinese medicine practitioners. It was traditional in China for family medicine to be handed down from one generation to the next. There was a break with my own father because my father didn’t like it (but he was an excellent marital arts practitioner). And my father was the youngest and it was usually passed to the eldest son, so my father became a chef in a company canteen. My family were at a loss of what to do with me due to my blindness so I trained with both my grandfather and my great-grandfather and two other masters. I was born blind due to uninformed decisions during my mother’s pregnancy. She had problems with her lungs and she had an operation, and took many herbs and drugs for it while my eyes were developing.  She was devastated when I was born, as I was a long awaited son, and she could see no good future for a blind child. My family were very very poor. There were three older brothers who didn’t make it, dying in infancy or before, and I have five older sisters. But we all know how important it is to have a son in China.


What type of Chinese Medicine do you practise?

Modern Chinese medicine – commonly referred to as Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) –is a very much condensed version of the ancient medicine.  TCM has cut out a lot of what might be perceived by the west as ‘quackery’. It focuses more on what science approves of. An example of perceived quackery would be all the energy work and use of ghost points in acupuncture. The ancient Chinese believed that each organ had its own spirit and if the spirit was disturbed it would wander the body causing problems including mental illness, the ghost points could lead the spirit back ‘home’ to its organ.


How did you meet your Irish wife? Was it love it first hear?

It was more like love at first feel. I knew my wife had arrived.  She had hurt her neck training in Tuina massage and Qigong at a hospital in Beijing and ended up on my table. Lara was raised in a western medical household; her father was one of just four paediatricians in the country when he first started out. Her mother had trained as an anaesthetist. She started her training in Chinese medicine a little later in life completing a five year BSc degree in TCM from Middlesex University and an MB TCM from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She then spent several years editing Chinese herbal books for a large publishing house in China because she wasn’t licensed to practice in China. Although, she did help a lot of the Beijing feral cat population and her rabbit on several occasions using TCM!  Beijing had changed a lot over the years and she wanted to come home to Ireland for some ‘air’ so I had to follow her, particularly as we discovered she was carrying my heir!


What do Irish people think of you and your type of healing?

Most are referred to me by word-of-mouth so they have some idea what to expect.  The fact that it works and they can for the most part see results, they seem to be happy.  Some have been so uncomfortable for most of their lives they feel a little relief is a cure and don’t seem to appreciate how much more comfortable they could be. Some hear that I am a healer with all the miracle healing associated with the term. So they expect instant miracles in one treatment for something they have had for a long time, and for something which they are not prepared to make any life style changes. Thankfully we have had very few of these. The vast majority stick the pace and have achieved amazing results. I feel many have healed faster than I expected. In a week, we head off for a long annual break in China, and a patient today said she was going to really miss us for the seven weeks we are gone! Leaving them this long is difficult but I also need to recharge.


What are the most common illnesses Irish people come to you with?

In Chinese medicine we look at the environment as a cause of disease and environmental conditions so I would say we have many with feng (wind) han (cold) shi (damp) conditions which mostly manifest in pain or immobility. We have a lot with gynaecological issues from period pain to infertility to menopause. And people with skin conditions. I tend not to take on those with skin conditions as they take too long to heal and I like to heal fast, but I can treat it if people can stand the pace. Often we get patients who have been to everyone and everywhere and got no relief so it’s up to me to find a way, if at all possible.


And how does that compare to illnesses Chinese people suffer from?

The environment here is different, stresses are different, and it all creates different problems.  Also in China people tend to watch their health better.  For example a woman on her period would never go near cold water, even on a hot day. They believe you are open to invasions of cold on those days, and after giving birth they take a month in bed to recover. Some of our patients tell us their grandmothers here used to say similar things, like for six weeks after childbirth never a foot should touch the ground.  People here have lost a lot of the basic knowledge for health maintenance that their ancestors would have had.  In China people’s lives are mostly more regulated, with eating and rest times more regular.


What happens at a consultation?

My wife takes a case history, with the patient lying fully clothed, face up, on the plinth. I take the pulse and palpate and ask questions to confirm or repudiate what I have found there. I then start treatment which can consist of manipulations, massage, acupuncture, cupping, gua sha (a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing.) heat lamp, and moxa (practitioners use moxa to warm regions and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.) I also may do a foot massage which requires a foot soak beforehand.  After the treatment I make lifestyle recommendations or suggest self-help techniques to maintain the treatment until the next visit, if one is required, as I cannot see people as often as I would like. Every treatment follows much the same path.  I tend to address that which is bothering the patient most and when it is sorted, if they allow, I will work on other issues that have arisen from my diagnosis to prevent future problems.  With chronic conditions, in China I would see people every day or several times a week. But that is not financially or physically possible here, so the onus is on the patient to assist the treatment in order for a quicker resolution. As people improve, the distance between treatments lengthens until it is resolved, if possible. We find people know what to expect and are more likely to stick the course if they have been referred by someone they trust.


How can someone suffering from infertility issues get help from you?

I can tell most things from the pulse, though if a couple have had tests it is best that they bring the results along. Couples have infertility issues for many different reasons and therefore it follows help would also come in different forms. The pulse will usually tell me if conception is a possibility. Currently people studying Chinese medicine learn about the pulse and that you can read different things from palpating different areas of the wrist (and occasionally other locations) at different depths.  When I trained I learnt things to a much greater depth.  The pulse tells me how an illness has arisen, right through to what illnesses are on the way, or even how many pregnancies a particular woman should have, and lots lots more.


In what other ways do you diagnose people?

In Chinese medicine we use all the senses to diagnose. Obviously I’m short on the sight so I cannot use the tongue or finger nails to diagnose like a sighted person can, but I can use my nose to smell different scents, my ears to hear different resonance in the muscles or stomach, or changes in voice, and touch to palpate different areas or feel the quality of the skin and hair.


What do you think of the Irish medical system?

I have had little direct contact with the Irish Medical system, with the exception of what I hear from my patients, mostly worrying, and from my experience of the birth of our child in hospital here. With regards to my patients’ stories, it amazes me how they manage to function after having had so much surgery for even the slightest issues. I don’t want to be totally negative but it’s difficult to find the positive sometimes, particularly when we only hear the stories that have gone wrong. Many who have spent their whole lives working in the health service seem to despair of it these days.

I find it difficult to treat some people without access to all the herbs I could get in China as they have been banned in Europe, often with good reason, but equally many without.  It sounds like the Irish have given the pharmaceutical companies too great a hold over the government and the good health of the people.



What do you think of Ireland?

I have had limited experience of Ireland as I have only been here 18 months and for two short visits, mostly in snow, before that. This year the weather has been good, last year it was bad, but people are good and friendly, the air is good. My singing is much better, people here are very punctual and straight up, it seems if you are good to them they’ll be good to you too. The Guinness is good, and Irish meat makes my already exceptional Chinese cooking even better.


How’s your English coming along?

Very slowly.  There are more Chinese speaking people in the world than English speaking so I never saw the point in learning English. My father-in-law bought me a language course for Christmas so I am working my way through it, very slowly.


What do you hope for your future in Ireland?

I want to spread the health knowledge of Chinese medicine throughout Ireland to reduce suffering and help people to feel how they were born to feel. I would like for us to have our own home to raise our family, a clinic to help the ill and a school to teach people to cultivate health. And have lots of fun along the way!


If you want to get in touch with Hong Wei Shi, email or call 0871831432.


Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.


Gua sha is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing.


Do you know anyone who has benefited from alternative medicine? Email us at

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