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City People

Healing with harmony

A Chinese doctor uses herbal remedies to treat everything from back pain to infertility.

By KIM DeFALCO
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 14, 2003


TAMPA -- Outside, the cars roar by. Inside, the music soothes.

Bowls of exotic, aromatic herbs wait like dishes of candy in Dr. Xin-Yue Jiang's Kennedy Boulevard medical practice, where a good fortune Buddha serves as a welcome mat.

Jiang, 55, practices traditional Chinese medicine.

She is as fluid with her demeanor as she is precise with her words. She hugs her patients, greeting them as if they are members of her extended Chinese family tree.

They come to her for harmony.

They come from all over. From all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds.

They are firefighters, Broadway dancers, Major League Baseball players and housewives. They are as young as 2 and as old as 85.

Using acupuncture and personalized herbal remedies mastered in her five-year undergraduate program at the Traditional Chinese Medical College of Guangzhou, China, Jiang embraces the energy of each patient.

She is deeply aware of one's yin and yang.

And of a visitor's need to recall what that means.

"Yin and yang is a way of seeing reality that views every aspect of the world, material and spiritual, as being composed of two opposing and at the same time interdependent forces," she explains.

"Yin and yang are opposites that form a whole; they depend on each other because they only exist in relation to their opposite. This is how the body works."

Three to four thousand years ago, Indian and Chinese cultures developed systems of healing and meditation to prevent disease and to treat the sick.

Chinese culture does not separate body and soul. With this in mind, Jiang seeks to examine a patient's entire being.

She interviews, observes, listens and touches. She pays attention to the eyes and the tongue and the pulse points of the wrists. In Chinese medicine, they are barometers of health.

She looks at the way people walk and talk and carry themselves.

She finds remedies among 2,000 or more imported herbs and pairs them with other treatments -- acupuncture, electrical muscular or nerve stimulation, among them.

"In traditional Chinese medicine, there is an intuitiveness," explains massage therapist and patient Alan Hoskins. "I've had many different acupuncturists and doctors, and Dr. Jiang just has a feel for it."

Hoskins, 52, felt a blockage in his chest and numbness in two fingers. Enter Jiang.

"Within two days, I felt a clearing of my energy field throughout my body and my fingers started responding," Hoskins said.

Jiang treats asthma, arthritis, sciatica, diabetes, alcoholism, smoking cessation, Bell's palsy and myriad other ailments.

Skeptics abound, but so do clients.

There is 60-year-old Daniel Bleich from Balm, a working-class man who travels 35 miles to have his blood sugar regulated.

Bleich said he witnessed his blood sugar drop 50 points after one visit.

A photo album tells of other patients.

A woman treated for infertility stands sideways, revealing her eight-month pregnancy.

Before and after photos show a balding man who appears to have grown hair.

Word of mouth keeps others coming.

Jiang was sought out by former New York Yankees pitcher David Cone. Cone, who experienced recurring pain after arm and shoulder surgery in 1996 and 1997, flew Jiang to New York City for treatment between games.

In his memoirs A Pitcher's Story, he dedicates Chapter 4 to Jiang.

She comes from a long line of doctors and scientists.

Her father was a malaria specialist and biology professor at China's Zhung Shau University. Her late husband, Dr. Shui-Guo Zheng, was a neurosurgeon, a career her son intends to pursue.

"I knew I wanted to be a doctor by age 5 or 6," Jiang said. "I never would consider anything else."

With that, she hugged Daniel Bleich, floated past the good fortune Buddha and disappeared behind door No. 1.

Xin-Yue Jiang

  • AGE: 55
  • FAMILY: Son David, 19; mom Mao Li Zheu, 81
  • ZODIAC: Born in the Year of the Rat, a symbol for good luck and wealth
  • RAT TRIVIA: A rat birth year means quick wit, natural charm and a sense of humor.
  • FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP: Oceanic Trading Company
  • CINEMATIC HEROES: Samuel L. Jackson and Nicolas Cage
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: The Rock
  • HOW SHE RELAXES: Swimming, running, tai chi
  • FAMILY TIES: Sister Yan J. Lu, 43, plays violin for the Florida Orchestra.
  • ROADSIDE HABIT: Stopping to examine Florida herbs, though she would only use herbs from China.

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