Philippe Emmanuel Couste reads a French book on traditional Chinese medicine in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, Nov. 9, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Yibo)
XIAN, 18 Nov. (Xinhua) — Philippe Emmanuel Couste believes he made the right decision to settle in China after living here for 15 years.
The 38-year-old Frenchman fulfilled his dream in Xi’an, in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province, becoming an heir to ancient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) after a relentless pursuit.
Couste grew up in the South West French city of Pau and the medical practice runs deep in his family. His grandfather was a doctor who treated wounded during World War II and his grandmother was a pharmacist.
“Both were interested in TCM, which had a subtle influence on me throughout my childhood and beyond,” Couste recalls.
Although he only had a limited knowledge of the Chinese language, Couste followed his inner curiosity and made the bold decision to come to China in 2007 as an exchange student.
It seemed like a random choice for him at the time to travel across the ocean and get his degree in the ancient city of Xi’an. But looking back after more than a decade, he feels “it was something like fate.”
During his college years in Xi’an, he met Ji Yunxuan, a Chinese girl who later became his wife. Coincidentally, Ji’s father is a TCM doctor who specializes in skin treatment.
“With his help, I was able to get closer to realizing my dream. I learned TCM from scratch, like the four diagnostic methods, which are looking, listening, asking questions and feeling the pulse,” Couste said.
Couste and his wife established a skin medical museum in Xi’an’s Gaoling District in 2019. According to the couple, the museum has received tens of thousands of visitors.
When you walk into the museum, you soon smell the fragrant smell of spices. Chinese herbal medicine specimens are neatly arranged and labeled with recipes in French and English translations.
Among the collections, numerous items that have traveled thousands of miles from France often attract the attention of visitors. Maps of acupuncture points with French terms are hung on the wall and a white ceramic gallipot embellished with traditional patterns is well preserved in the glass case.
“My grandfather taught acupuncture himself at home and he gave me those cards before I left for China, and my grandmother made herbal remedies in that jar to treat patients with rheumatic pain,” Couste said.
“These serve as a testimony to the integration of Western and Chinese medicine. Now I want to carry on their legacy,” he added.
The past decade has witnessed China’s continued efforts to promote TCM around the world. According to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM has been practiced in 196 countries and regions so far. China plans to cooperate with countries along the Belt and Road to build 30 overseas TCM centers in 2021-2025.
“We have seen more and more foreign students come to China to learn more about TCM. I was told that many stores in France have books on TCM with French translation,” says Couste, who also takes online courses on TCM from a French professor.
It is Couste’s lifelong pursuit to help more people in the world understand TCM and help treat patients. “I have accepted an invitation from my hometown and will soon be teaching those interested in TCM in France to share its charm with others,” Couste said. ■