Chinese American Transnationalism: The Flow of People, Resources, and Ideas between China and America during the Exclusion Era

By Sucheng Chan | Go to book overview

4
Chinese Herbalists in the United States

HAIMING LIU

THE PRACTICE OF HERBAL MEDICINE is a rare instance of a profession that allowed Chinese immigrants to make a living for a prolonged period using a truly ethnic skill. Herb stores opened as soon as Chinese arrived in America. Medical knowledge being popular in Chinese society, more and more practitioners came to serve the needs of their fellow countrymen as Chinese immigration increased. Herbal medicinal formulae use hundreds of herbs gathered on the mountains and in the valleys of China. That meant herbalists in America had to import herbs regularly from their homeland. Thus, herbal medicine involved a transpacific trade. As a transplanted cultural practice, the herbal medicine business provides an illuminating example of the transpacific flow of people, medical knowledge, and ethnic goods.

The history of herbal medicine in America also illustrates how an ethnic medical skill gained a foothold in a new setting. In their efforts to bypass unfair restrictions and cross ethnic boundaries to serve society at large, Chinese immigrant herbalists developed and expanded their careers in a Western society where most of their patients were not familiar with Chinese culture and the medical profession was increasingly standardized and regulated. Like a Chinese restaurant, herbal medical practice served the needs of both Chinese and non-Chinese. However, unlike Chinese cuisine, herbal medicine could not change its ingredients, flavor, or dispensation to suit the taste of mainstream Americans. Rather, it had to remain distinctively Chinese in order to be effective. The acceptance of and the respect for Chinese herbal medicine demonstrate how mainstream American patients adapted themselves to an Asian form of therapy. Thus, Chinese herbal medicine can be seen as an instance of reverse assimilation.

In this chapter, I document why and when Chinese herbal medicine arose in America, who the herbalists were, how they operated their businesses, the major challenges they faced, and the accomplishments they achieved in their medical/business careers. By examining the history of Chinese herbalists, I intend to expand our understanding of early Chinese immigrants, their social backgrounds, and the cultural practices they brought with them. Chinese herbalists worked in an anti-Chinese environment; despite that, they managed to do a thriving business from the

-136-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Chinese American Transnationalism: The Flow of People, Resources, and Ideas between China and America during the Exclusion Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 294

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.