By Xinhua writer Tian Ying
NANJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- In an east China traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hospital, Briton Kate Steiner is watching a doctor take pulses, examine tongues and ask about symptoms.
Steiner, 25, has been studying TCM at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine in Jiangsu Province for two years. She frequents the provincial TCM hospital to learn from TCM practioners during her summer break.
"I like to accompany my friends who are also overseas students to visit TCM doctors. I ask questions and take notes of prescriptions doctors give to my friends," says Steiner. She is one of 1,300 overseas students who make up more than 10 percent of the university's 12,660 students.
Overseas students graduating from prestigious TCM universities across China every year are becoming known as the foreign "heirs" of the country's thousand-year medical heritage.
Before TCM was systemized in the 1950s under the People's Republic of China, it was only practiced within inherited family systems.
At that time, TCM gurus hid in locked rooms to mix "secret formula" medications.
It took two years of language studies to enable Steiner to understand most of her classes.
She says she was inspired to study TCM by Giovanni Maciocia, an Italian practioner of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Maciocia also trained at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, before practicing in London and compiling English TCM textbooks.
"I also got support from my uncle who's a Western medicine doctor. He used to cast doubt on TCM, because it cannot be explained with scientific methodology, but later he found TCM therapies did work in treating stroke sequela when he visited a TCM center in Germany," she says.