My more than one week-long chase after a cure for my inflamed throat and nasty cough… m’aidez, m’aidez …

May God help me, huh? 

Anyways, before I launch into details here is a general introduction in video format of the TCM product I was offered during my journey.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
E-Fong product marketing (sachet dispensing)

~ uploaded on YouTube (4-Apr-2010) by UnitedHerbs,
the sole agent for E-Fong products in the UK

“Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): E-Fong Product Marketing (sachet dispensing)” uploaded on YouTube by UnitedHerbs on 4Apr2010 (sole agent for E-Fong products in the UK)


:: Wanna know a little more about the TCM granules? ::

A week of illness and this has been my journey so far…


      1. I feel some kind of congealed lump in the back of my throat;
      2. I wait a day or two… and now feel like coughing, but cannot;
      3. I start to feel drowsier and more tired (i.e. more than usual) for no decipherable reason;
      4. I kick my own ass and then drag my sorry-shit ass and heavy legs to the massage parlour for a 1 hour reflexology session, plus a 1.5 hour full-body massage with oils;
      5. After my therapeutic massages I fall into a deep coma (i.e. sleep) for 2 hours while in the parlour;
      6. I wake up with a wood-chip pizza oven smouldering in the back of my throat and am as drowsy as a caged bear in the laboratory for harvesting of animal bile…
      7. I roll off the massage bed,  barely manage to walk out of the door of the private room and then struggle with all my might to make sense of the numbers and fumble for my cash notes to pay the bill… sorry-shit me;
      8. I hurriedly trip over my own legs to locate the building where my Western Medical doctor resides for work, but hit the wrong button in the elevator (my brain cannot function) and cannot remember which floor he is on, but I exit on the floor with the Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner’s clinic which I have always wanted to visit, so I grasp this opportunity;
      9. I undergo an examination and Q&A session with her and she diagnoses me as having some kind of flu or cold (感冒), and gives me four day’s worth of the below Chinese herbal medicine tonic.

My Tcm prescription by Ms lai, practitioner of tcm

There are a total of 10 different granulated herbs in my prescribed concoction and in total, tastes as I expected – I have never tasted any nice TCM herbal medicines.  I never expect better *sigh* I am sure that is the way it is… *urgh*  Freezing  =>  Coffee cup =>  Sick smile 

Herb name
and E.O.H.
(see note below table)
English name(s) Functions
1 – 白芍 

E.O.H= 1g => 10g

white peony root

BaiShao-white peony flower-2BaiShao-white peony root

– Nourishes blood: regulates menstrual dysfunction due to blood deficiency (very common herb for gynaecological disorders-Si Wu Tang).
– Calms liver yang: alleviates  disharmony between the liver and the spleen which may cause cramping and spasms (limbs and abdomen), headaches and dizziness.
– Preserves Yin while adjusting Yang and Wei levels.

2 – 柴胡 

E.O.H= 0.7g => 6g

Chinese thoroughwax | Hare’s ear root | Sickle-leaf hare’s ear
ChaiHu-chinese thoroughwax
ChaiHu-chinese thoroughwax-2

– Reduces fever: alternating chills and heat, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, vomiting, stifling sensation in the chest.
– Relieves liver qi stagnation (often used with BaiShao): vertigo, menstrual disorders, chest and flank pain (most common herb for stress, depression etc.)
– Liver and spleen disharmony: bloating, nausea, indigestion, flank pain.
– Raises yang qi in spleen: stomach deficiency patterns,  prolapsed organ, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids.

3 – 大枣  DaZao

E.O.H= 2.5g => 10g

DaZao-red dates-3

black date | Chinese jujube | jujube plum | red date

DaZao-red datesDaZao-red dates-2

– Tones spleen qi to combat: weakness, shortness of breath, reduced appetite, loose stools.
– Nourishes blood and calms spirit to combat: irritableness, pallor, emotional, restlessness.
– Harmonizes the other herbs to prevent harsh properties from occurring and disrupting the patient’s internal balance.

4 – 茯苓   FuLing

E.O.H= 0.5g => 10g


Indian Bread | Poria| Tuckahoe | Wolfiporia


– Relieves oedema: promotes urination, drains damp
– Strengthen spleen and liver: harmonize middle Jiao, quietens heart and calms spirit.
– Tumours: FuLing can strengthen the body, improve body weight, improve appetite, lessen or prevent side effect of chemo therapy, protect bone marrow, improve liver and kidney functions, improve radiation therapy on nose and throat cancers.
– For baldness after giving birth.

5 – 姜半夏  JiangBanXia

E.O.H= 2g => 9g

ginger pinellia

JiangBanXia-ginger pinellia

– Rids the feeling of vomiting
– Rids phlegm nodules
– Calming
– Lower pressure in the eyes

6 – 猫爪草  MaoZhaoCao
E.O.H= 2g => 10g

MaoZhaoChao-root of cat claw buttercup-2

root of cat claw buttercup

MaoZhaoChao-root of cat claw buttercup

– Anti-tuberculosis
– Anti-bacterial
– Anti-carcinogens
– Anti-tumours

7 – 生姜 ShengJiang

E.O.H= 0.5g => 3g




Enhance digestion: stimulate gastrointestinal mucosa, reduce congestion of gastrointestinal tract.
– Effectively treat over-eating of
cold food, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc..
– Improves blood circulation:
blood vessels. expand, body’s pores open.
– Expels excess cold within the body e.g. when consume too much cold food and drink; exposure to cold and rainy climates and weather; long-term in air-conditioned environments => ginger can eliminate body heaviness caused by the discomfort of excess internal cold.  

8 – 炙甘草  ZhiGanCao
E.O.H= 0.6g => 3g

ZhiGanCao-liquorice plant-02

baked liquorice

ZhiGanCao-baked liquorice
ZhiGanCao-liquorice root-03

– Strengthens spleen and stomach qi: fatigue, heart palpitations, pulse knots generation, solvable aconite poisoning.

ZhiGanCao-liquorice sweets

9 – 紫苏叶  ZiSuYe

E.O.H= 0.9g => 10g

ZiSuYe-basil leaves

basil leaves

ZiSuYe-basil leaves-04
ZiSuYe-basil leaves-03ZiSuYe-basil leaves-02

– Warm the lungs, spleen and stomach.
– Treats coughs, qi, miscarriage and detoxification.
– Treats exogenous cold, chills, fever, headache, no sweat, cough, asthma, abdominal distension, nausea, diarrhoea, pharyngeal obstruction, pregnancy vomiting, foetal irritability, eating crab poisoning, carbuncle sinister snake.

10 – special secret ingredient

E.O.H= n/a

  I have no idea what this was, but it was a pale yellow-brown sand coloured powder with nougat-like clumps within it.

:::::::: note about E.O.H. ::::::::

E.O.H. (相当于) means the ‘equivalent of herbs’ and provides a comparison between the more patient-friendly and convenient granulated form of TCM herbs and ‘pieces’ of ready-to-drink TCM herbs in the more conventional form of slices, chunks, bits or pieces. (Other possible conventional forms are: thin slices, thick slices, oblique films, filaments, segments etc.) The more conventional form of TCM herbs, in chunks or slices, is now more readily called ‘pieces’ of herbs.

    • That is, given that the TCM herbs had not been industrially and technically processed into granules, what is the equivalent ‘pieces’ quantity required of this particular TCM herb?
    • Thus, it must be a quantifiable comparison between the granulated form and the more conventional ‘pieces’ form of TCM herbs being dispensed – currently calculated by weight in grams.
    • The net weight of each sachet (每袋装) of packaged TCM herbal granules is printed on the sachet packaging, followed by the E.O.H. measured by weight in grams of conventional ‘pieces’ of herbs in ready-to-drink form (饮片).

Nerd smile  ME (Ms CBY)  TALKING: However, in all my years of taking TCM herbal medicines, I have *never* taken conventional form TCM herbs in a ‘ready-to-drink’ form. All the ‘pieces’ of TCM I have ever received have had to be personally prepared and packaged by the TCM doctor himself or herself: weighed, weighted, proportioned by diagnosis and appropriate formulated cure and then COOKED.

I have *never* in my life had a steeped TCM cure i.e. ‘ready-to-drink’ formula. Maybe that is how major my illnesses are, or maybe that is how rundown my body is. Tell you more later… Winking smile

The only oral consumables I receive that are close to being ‘steeped’ are drinking teas, but even that method is called a ‘brew’… i.e. to brew a cup of tea, and that only requires 2-3 minutes by teabag. There is such a thing as ‘infusion’ too, but I think that is even more powerful, intensive and labour-consuming than either steeping or brewing.

The provided information of E.O.H. is for the sake of anyone who needs to know, so that they may check the dispensed TCM formula against other opinions and information to corroborate correctness of diagnosis, method and cure, but more importantly for repeat prescriptions. It is traditional for the patient to be responsible for his own health and seek corroboration of prescribed formulas, diagnosis and cures.  E.O.H. is necessary since granulated herbs are still so new and advanced, so there is still comparatively negligible TCM formula information provided in granulated weightings.  No doubt the granulated weightings would depend on the chosen industrial methods used for processing as well, and so would differ from manufacturer to manufacturer  Nerd smile  .

:: Life before the invention of TCM granules :: 

If you want to gain an idea of what life was like prior to granulated TCM formulas, then have a gander   Nerd smile  at the below articles which kindly share knowledge of the ins-and-outs of *cooking* a package of expertly selected ‘pieces’ of conventional form of TCM herbs. 

Now, remember, when a person is ill  Sick smile  , even just *remembering* to take the two tablets of Western Modern Medicine three times a day after meals is difficult enough. 

All you have to do is pop a couple of small pills into your mouth and wash them down with a gulp of warm water… easy, right  Thinking smile  ?  Not when you’re drowsy and lethargic as heck  Sad smile  . 

Now, imagine being below par *and* having to *cook* the TCM remedy  Confused smile  . 

OK, traditionally, people would have had someone at home to help them  Surprised smile  , even if it was a hired Amah (a carer in substitute of a parent), but nowadays people like myself are much more independent   Hot smile  (because, for better or for worse, that is the way we are heading… over the long term it is for the better) and thus we are on our own  Disappointed smile  . 

There *isn’t* anyone to do my cooking of herbs and not every TCM practitioner has someone who specializes in herb cooking for the patients.  So, granulated TCM formulas are for *me*.  Anyway, here are articles instructing you on how to conduct life prior to the invention of TCM granules (中药配方颗粒).


::: Who are the manufacturers of these TCM granules? :::

Chinese medicine granules
EFONG ( 广东一方制药有限公司 ) : 中药配方颗粒

BD10299_ BD10299_  E-Fong company profile  BD10299_ BD10299_  E-Fong company profile  BD10299_ BD10299_

Established in 1993, Guangdong Yifang Pharmaceutical Co.,Ltd is a modern nutraceutical company. It mainly devotes itself to the researching, manufacturing and marketing of botanical extracts from roots, stems, blooms, fruits, seeds, entire grass and barks etc.

The products include botanical extracts, essential oils, herbal teas, single TCM standardized granules, classic TCM formulas, nutraceuticals and functional foods.

~ quoted from

The Canadian agent has quite a good web-page if you’re looking for more information:  E-Fong Canada Herbal Solution is the official agent and wholesale distributor of E-Fong concentrated herbal products
in Ontario, Canada.

Some articles and websites of interest with relevant material on TCM herbs:

  1. Bright future of Chinese medicine granules is an article translated into English (by Google) and the original article (in simplified PRC Chinese) entitled 中药配方颗粒剂 前景光明is located on’s website
  2. Yin Yang House is dedicated to “exploring wellness East and West”.
  3. Chinese Herbs (Singapore) aims to “help cleanse and rejuvenate your body enable you to stay younger and healthier”
  4. The Super Food Company promotes “perfect health” and “are a UK based retailer and supplier of premium superfoods, herbal tinctures, powders, tablets, capsules and teas, along with a wide range of branded supplements and alternative natural health products and remedies.”
  5. is an initiative of Wageningen University, The Netherlands and is a multi-lingual site about the background to various food ingredients – the mother language of the site is English.
  • Baidu :
    :: Quoted from (can use your search engine to translate Baidu’s web content into the English for you) ::
    Baidu Encyclopedia (Chinese: 百度百科; pinyin: Bǎidù Bǎikē; translation: “Baidu Encyclopedia”) is a Chinese language collaborative Web-based encyclopaedia provided by the Chinese search engine Baidu. Like Baidu itself, the encyclopaedia is heavily self-censored in line with government regulations. The test version was released on April 20, 2006, and within three weeks, the encyclopaedia had grown to more than 90,000 articles, surpassing that of Chinese Wikipedia. By 2008, had surpassed both in article count.

    As of April 2011, Baidu Baike has more than 3 million articles, about ten times more than the Chinese Wikipedia.

    Baidu’s William Chang said at WWW2008, the conference of the World Wide Web Consortium, “There is, in fact, no reason for China to use Wikipedia … It’s very natural for China to make its own products.”

:::: So what the heck happened after taking the TCM granules, huh? ::::

Well, maybe I was a bad patient but I took the first dose and yes, it was awful tasting, but I persevered since I decided to have some faith. 

Now, I wouldn’t say that it didn’t work, but I am more used to Western modern medicine whereby I walk into a pharmacy and the pharmacist is able to provide an over-the-counter cough syrup together with something for flus or colds, if necessary, and then I go home and feel better already. 

Well, I was supposed to take the TCM granules over *four* days… I took the first dose, then…. I waited for the time to take the second dose… and I don’t know what overcame me… but I double-dosed… and by mid-second and third dosage I poured all the remaining granules into my mug and knocked it all back.

Basically, in the space of one day I drowned four days worth of TCM medication… hmm… but I did not feel better. 

Hmm… I did feel, actually, a little worse… eeensy-teeensy bit worse in my stomach, but nothing major. 

So I rushed to a nearby pharmacy to get some cough syrup because my cough had *not* subsided in any way. 

The woman at the pharmacy counter presented me with the
:::: Domagk  (道马克) : expectorant Chinese herbs medicine :::: 
(from Austria/Germany) which is “for the relief of cough, sore throat and hoarseness”.  Sounded about right, sounded like me  Shifty  …

IMG_1599-Domagk expectorant Chinese herbs cough medicine IMG_1600-Domagk expectorant Chinese herbs cough medicine-2

Well, Domagk’s expectorant medicine tasted very similar to “Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa” (a sore throat syrup of 100% natural honey loquat flavour) which I’ve had a few times before but it never really did anything for me… I *clearly* don’t have the same ailments.

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa-sore throat syrup-natural honey loquat flavoured syrup

Hmm…so I followed the given dosage instructions and completed the entire 150ml bottle of Domagk’s… but to no avail… actually I felt as if my cough had got *worse*.   I was having to cover my mouth with double-folded tissue  and *both* hands to avoid alerting the whole neighbourhood about my coughing  predicament.

So, which active ingredients does “Domagk’s expectorant Chinese herbs medicine” have it it?  For every 1,000 ml of herbs liquid extract it is made from:

      • Radix Stemonae  …..….. 70g
        • Stemona Root = 百部 BaiBu
        • for the lung meridian
      • Folium Eriobotryae …..….. 70g
        • Loquat leaf = 枇杷叶 PeiPaYe
        • To remove heat from the lung and the stomach, and to relieve cough and vomiting
      • Radix Platycodi …..….. 70g
        • Platycodon root, or Balloonflower root = 桔梗 Jiegeng
        • To aid dispersing function of the lungs; resolve phlegm; and to expel pus

[ Composition: herbs liquid extract 15% ]

Hmm…  I was even beginning to become a bit incontinent every time I coughed and had a hit-over-the-back-of-my-head-by-a-blunt-instrument type of headache in the back of my skull with every jolt of a cough and splutter. 

I was even doing spot stain removal of urine from my clothes… hmm… nice coffee smell, or is it ammonia, or is it fresh urea?

So, this occurred over a few days… but things were to get worse… so my solution, my *grand plan* was …

:::: Another pharmacy, another cough syrup ::::

UNI-Ramine C.E. Syrup:
“a safe and effective expectorant for chesty cough”

Tasted foul and is bright pomegranate pink-red… lovely jewel colour but *eeew* Sick smile *poor me*… but from the first 5ml I could feel a slight burning and tingling sensation in the back of my throat as if the medical formula was getting to work on whatever bugs or mishaps were festering in the back of my throat… and my throat felt less tickly and spluttery. 

But, alas, it wasn’t enough… anyways, here are some pictures of the packaging… saves me telling you the product facts.

IMG_1608-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-5

* Sorry * about the slight dog-eared effect on the top right-hand corner of the medicine box… it came like that and couldn’t be fixed.  Whoops, and I wanted the photos to come out ever-so, ever-so perfect   Thinking smile  .

IMG_1601-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-1 IMG_1602-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-2
As you can see, Ammonium Chloride is the most abundant active ingredient standing in at 110 mg per 5ml spoonful. Followed by Codeine Phosphate which is present as 10 mg per 5ml and is found in quite a number of cough syrups that have an expectorant (phlegm reducing) function. IMG_1603-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-3

IMG_1606-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-4

Ephedrine HCl – what the heck?  And Chlorpheniramine Maleate are active ingredients put in just for a laugh (at 5 mg and 1 mg respectively) and to make the ingredients list a more substantial total of four, instead of a measly two. 

(Joking, fellas, joking… Rolling on the floor laughing  )

IMG_1609-Uni-Ramine Cough Expectorant Syrup-6

As you can see, the pharmacist sold me a “POISON”. 

As to why she decided to do this, I do not know…. *sigh*…. Hong Kong pharmacies, eh?  Surprised smile 

Who *on earth* regulates them, hey?  Who on earth regulates, checks, inspects and audits the pharmacies of and within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region?  Hey, hey, hey?  Annoyed 

Fortunately, as you may be able to tell, I AM NOT DEAD, but I just might be dying as a direct consequence of taking this UNI-Ramine medicine…. who knows?  Eh, who knows?  Eh, eh, eh?  Confused smile

JUST AS AN ASIDE, the USA has the US Food and Drug Administration whose objective is “protecting and promoting your health”. 

You notice how they’ve grouped food and drugs together?  Logical, right?  Both consumed and ingested by the human body.

Anyways, I’ll blog again later… in the meantime I’ve got to prepare myself for another visit to another doctor to continue with my quest to be cured.

[ Actually, in case you’re wondering, I suspect I may have consumed a bit too many drugs over the last few days… feeling a little woozy and my body is starting to reject medication i.e. I’m staring to want to vomit it up.  Hmm… over-dose?  Well, dears, I ain’t cured yet!  I’m not being fussy, but nasty cough attacks which are able to resound through acres of vast lands and through many storeys of sky scrappers to make The Forbidden Palace seem like a a student’s loo room is *NOT*  my idea of something I should be putting up with.  Huh.  Huh!  HUH!  Steaming mad  ]

Random but relevant link to another website which has been considerate enough to contend with and present TCM information to you in a way that makes it less daunting, more digestible, accessible and worthwhile for you to peruse.  I particularly like the way they’ve decided to host the information for you:
Elements of Health: acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine


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