Dr. Shi-Hong Loh arrived in the United States in the late 1970s during a wave of recruitment efforts for trained medical professionals. He was part of a small number of doctors from Taiwan and he brought a unique set of skills and expertise as someone trained in both Western and Eastern medicine.
Dr. Loh served as chief of hematology and oncology at St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken and was appointed director of the Department of Complementary Therapy in 1998. But his Hoboken medical practice focuses on acupuncture – treating everyone from cancer patients to women dealing with infertility.
“I’m a doctor who uses acupuncture to help people. There is a big distinction in terms of the philosophy and the perspective I have,” said Dr. Loh.
Decades treating cancer cases in Hoboken
Loh first arrived in Hoboken in 1986 and worked at the international longshoreman’s association clinic, which was located in the building of the current police headquarters on Hudson Street. He said Hoboken was full of families and first-generation immigrants from diverse backgrounds who worked blue-collar jobs.
“In Chinese medicine every organ has an emotion” – Shi-Hong Loh
He spent years treating cancer patients. Through his work he came to realize that the use of chemotherapy had its limitations.
“In treating cancer patients and dealing with oncology, we deal with advanced knowledge in medicine,” said Dr. Loh. “After practicing many years I felt very unsatisfied with the outcome.” He said that success in the treatment of cancer depended on how early the cancer was detected and that for those at the metastatic stage, where it had spread to other organs, the outlook was seldom positive.
While the 1980s were a time of gentrification in Hoboken, it was also a time when alternative medicine, including acupuncture, began to grow in popularity. Acupuncture, commonly practiced in countries like China, Japan, and Korea, dates back thousands of years and involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands, or by electrical stimulation, according to the national institute of health.
Acupuncture as a way to ease pain
Dr. Loh turned to his training in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the use of acupuncture as a way to mitigate pain when he came across a patient in severe pain whose lung cancer had spread to her brain. He then began increasingly using acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy for his cancer patients throughout his oncology practice.
“I’m very happy with the result of acupuncture and I gradually lost my interest in oncology,” said Dr. Loh.
Mind, body, spirit
“Doing Chinese medicine is really intriguing to me,” said Dr. Loh. “In Chinese medicine every organ has an emotion, which doesn’t exist in western medicine…I use that principle and every time it proves correct on a patients manifestation of symptoms.”
Chinese medicine makes links between the mind, body and spirit. The emotion for the heart is joy, the spleen is worry, the lung equals sadness, the kidney is fear, and the liver is anger.
“Using that theory, it explains very well, nowadays why a lot of women have breast cancer,” he said. “Many of them have come out of a divorce [or] have a poor relationship or [face] marital stress. If you are too overwhelmed in that emotion, that organ will manifest those emotions.”
Stress, emotional strain, trauma, poor diet, accidents, and excessive activity, are among some factors that can lead to blockages of Qi, which is the “energy” or “force” that carries nutrients throughout the body, as understood in TCM. Acupuncture eliminates any “blockages” to return a normal flow of Qi so that the body can resume normal functioning.
Fertility and postpartum care
“It is a grassroots movement by patients,” said Dr. Loh about the growth of acupuncture as a method to treat infertility. He said women have increasingly sought acupuncture after a clinical study conducted by German and Chinese doctors in 2004 showed positive results with women undergoing in vitro fertilization to get pregnant. Twenty-six percent of the group who underwent IVF alone got pregnant, while 42 percent of those who underwent IVF and acupuncture got pregnant.
“The stress [is] the most important factor,” said Dr. Loh, describing one of the biggest deterrents to pregnancy for women. “I tell the patient, ‘Go on vacation and get pregnant.’ ”
Dr. Loh said that acupuncture contributes to relaxation and helps improve the chances of conception.
Acupuncture also helps women address exhaustion and being overworked following a pregnancy.
“I think postpartum depression is not accurate,” Loh said. “I call it post partum exhaustion.” He said that postpartum care is critical given how physically and emotionally draining childbirth is.
“Good nutrition [and] good rest…is very important. If you can recover faster from labor and delivery you won’t be drained and that will minimize postpartum depression,” said Dr. Loh.
Handling difficult cases
“[The] people come to me are very difficult cases,” he said. “They tell me, ‘I’ve seen...this many doctors.’ They’ve exhausted all of their resources in Western medicine. I go right to the cause of the problem and help them eliminate the cause. I help people heal…using the wisdom about life, Western and Eastern medicine.”
For more information about Dr. Loh, visit: http://dao-sheng.com/index.html or call: (201) 659-0100.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.