Holistic Health in LA's Chinatown

Rosa Pescoya, 60, winces and grips her wrist as she tells her story. Forearm and wrist tendonitis plagued her for months before the doctors at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Carson recommended surgery as her sole cure. Even with nerve compression and wrist tendons pulled so tight that her carpal bones nearly poked through her skin, she resolved to keep from going under the knife. On a friend's referral, she made an appointment with Dr. Lien Diep, an herbalist, licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist who is the Director of 3000 Years Health Center in Los Angeles' Chinatown district. After a $15 consultation, Pescoya was sent home with seven days' worth of bitter herbs to steep and drink. "For me, it's excellent," says Pescoya, who lifts children all day for her work as a nanny. Pescoya's pain abated for 3 months after she completed the seven-day tea cycle prescribed for her by Diep.

Although curing serious ailments with tea might seem nothing short of miraculous, Diep didn't always believe in Chinese medicine. Diep was a young, westernized girl growing up in Chinatown and her father, a third generation practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, prescribed herbal remedies to a reluctant Diep and her family. Despite her father's efforts to have Diep take up his practice, Diep enrolled in chiropractic school and devoted her time to Western medicine.

But even as Diep studied chiropractic, she began to develop a respect for her father. Even without the Western training that she had, he was still able to diagnose people with amazing accuracy and cure people of severe ailments, like cancer.

Mark Masushige, 56, was treated by Diep's father for ten years and talked about the "amazing things" Diep's dad could diagnose just from checking his pulse or looking at his eyes. "He verifi ed information that I already knew to be true," said Masushige.

Diep began to be a believer in her early twenties. She spent four years interning with her father, from when she was 24 to 28 and started accepting that the gift of Chinese medicinal healing was in her blood.

Diep presently works with people who have AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma and cancer. Diep said that she is devoted to all her patients but that she is interested in modifying her practice to deal specifi cally with cancer patients. She wants to take more medical classes to study Western oncology before she feels confi dent integrating Eastern remedies.

Diep speaks about a patient she saw who had stage four lung cancer. The doctors had given up on him and given him six months to live, said Diep. She started treating him with teas and within a year he stopped chemotherapy. "They retested him and couldn't fi nd the cancer," said Diep.

When asked whether acupuncture had helped his sore back and ankle, Masushige knited his eyebrows together and nodded his head slowly as if it was attached to a yo-yo string. He said that acupuncture made him feel better but warned not to expect immediate results. He considers Oriental natural remedies "more of a prevention or regeneration" for the body. Masushige views Western medicine as a means to quickly mask the problem while not fully healing it.

Diep's father retired from the practice last September and Diep has slowly taken over his patients after practicing with him for the past five years. "I'm very blessed. I have my Dad and I have lots of good patients," said Diep.

Diep's goal is to treat her patients before there is need for surgery or traumatic intervention. "Growing up here [in the United States] we're trained to see everything as data," said Diep, "but, remember, labs don't show up until there's already a problem." It isn't that Diep is fi ghting against Western medicine; it's just that in addition to her Western training, Diep also has 3,000 years of Chinese medicine to guide her.

To learn more about Diep's practice, visit www.3kyears.com.