About Ming Yip
Ming Yip is the only TCM practice in western Pennsylvania, which combines an acupuncture clinic with an herbal retail store. Therefore, we can provide both acupuncture and /or herbal consultation.
More importantly, we are among the few clinic/stores in all of the USA, which carry mostly sulfur free organic herbs. Our herbs are grown in GAP(Good Agricultural Practice) certified farms, which comply with the USDA and FDA standards. You may go to www.herbera.com for more information of our herbs. Beside the bulk herbs, we carry large variety of concentrated herbal granules, herbal pills and other health supplements. Our herbal granules are in the purest form, with no preservative, coloring, heavy metal and pesticide residue. In addition, 95% of our herbal pills have a GMP (Good Manufacture Practice) award.
Ming Yip is a general practice. We treat a large variety of ailments, and provide wellness maintenance and facial rejuvenation. Our treatments are effective and our herbs are of high quality. We have been trying every means to maintain a modest price for our quality because we want more people be able to benefit from TCM. We are never satisfied with our achievement and we are continuously making effort to excel ourselves.
About Bonnie Pang , Diplomat OM, OTR
Bonnie was born and grew up in Hong Kong, a culturally diversed society, also diversed and adventurous was her career path. Bonnie started her medical career as a registered nurse. After several years of working, she left Hong Kong for the USA. A young mind wanted to see the world. From Colorado State University, Bonnie graduated with a degree in Occupational Therapy which she practiced in San Francisco for eleven years. Interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); Bonnie took on an extra long course of post graduate study. By this way, she could maintain her high demanding full time job in rehabilitation medicine and the important role as a single mother of two young children at the same time. With strict self discipline, strong physical and emotional stamina, Bonnie was able to meet all the demands from her multiple roles in life. Her strength came from a healthy life style, positive attitude and a great devotion to TCM.
Bonnie was licensed in both acupuncture and herbal medicine in California- the most difficult attained license in the USA. However, her CA license was not valid for practicing in Pennsylvania. Bonnie believes obstacle can only make people stronger; she took the NCCAOM examination and passed. Bonnie is now both national and PA licensed in acupuncture and herbology.
Bonnie is a well qualified healer based on her life experience and medical knowledge. She has modeled to her patients the importance of maintaining a healthy life style and positive attitude. Self actualization and life long learning is Bonnie’s philosophy of life. Seeing patients’ condition improved from her treatment is Bonnie’s greatest joy. Quality treatment can only be achieved with continuous effort to excel herself.
Chinese herb shop builds on popularity of alternative medicine
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
By Bob Batz Jr., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Up the narrow stairs inside Goods Oriental Food Market on Penn Avenue in the Strip District, in one corner of the cluttered second floor, an Asian man and a wrinkled woman who looks to be his grandmother stand at a small counter that is the Ming Yip Herb Co.
The woman holds out a skinny list written in Chinese. A slim, pretty woman in jeans behind the counter, Winnie Lu, reads each item on the list, then turns to find it in the drawers and jars of dried roots, stems, flowers, seeds, fruits, minerals and other exotic substances -- all marked by Chinese characters -- that define the shop. An orchid on the counter, wood-and-rattan cabinets and gentle Chinese music warm the mood of Ming Yip, which translates as "Bright Leaf."
Each ingredient Lu carefully weighs on a brass hand scale. One hard fruit she hand grinds in a mortar. She pours each onto three squares of white paper she's spread on the counter.
Lu speaks in Cantonese to the old woman, who answers in kind while pointing to her right side. The other woman behind the counter, in dark slacks and a green sweater with a chic scarf around her neck, Bonnie Pang, listens and nods and asks more questions, then helps Lu find a substitute for one herb they don't have in their inventory of 300.
The old woman leaves with the bundles of mixed herbs, which she will boil and steep in a clay pot to make a decoction, or strong tea, that she will drink.
The scene is nothing more than a trip to the pharmacist/doctor, ancient Chinese style.
Practiced for thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine is increasingly popular with many people, Asian or not. Pittsburghers used to travel to Chinese herb shops in Cleveland, Washington and other cities for herbs they use for everything from asthma to insomnia. Then on Nov. 26 Pang opened her shop.
It's been an adventure.
Pang, 45, was born in Hong Kong, where she grew up in a family of more Western ways that didn't even use herbal medicine. She trained and worked as a registered nurse there but, "I think I got tired of the job and I wanted to see the world." So she headed to ColoradoStateUniversity and earned a degree in occupational therapy, which she practiced in San Francisco for almost 11 years.
Interested in so-called alternative therapies, she attended the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland, Calif., became a licensed acupuncturist and opened her own part-time practice. But it was difficult to make a name for herself in a crowded market like San Francisco, which has countless Chinese herb stores (and mostly male herbalists).
A Chinese friend in Pittsburgh told her, We need you here. Pang visited, liked it, then moved her two children here. She later convinced her good friend Lu, a Cantonese native who worked as a restorative nurse assistant, to move with her family to Pittsburgh to help her run the shop.
It's a first for Pittsburgh, though for several years there has been a ChineseAcupunctureCenter in Mt.Lebanon that now also offers herbal pills.
Pang's California acupuncture license is not valid in Pennsylvania, but, "Actually, I'm more interested in the herbs ... I think the herbs work better than the needles."
Traditional Chinese medicine is a complicated and controversial area, but one that is being explored by numerous scientific studies. A report earlier this year by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies called for more research on and standards for complementary and alternative medicine in general, noting that one-third of adults in the increasingly multicultural United States reported pursuing some form of these treatments.
Whether it works is a matter of science and opinion, but here's how Pang works:
Customers come by appointment, which she prefers, or just walk in. She has them fill out forms describing their health history, checks their tongue and pulse, then interviews them, writing down their symptoms and whether they are, for instance, a "hot" or "cold" person.
As defined by the NationalCenter for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, traditional Chinese medicine is "based on a concept of balanced qi (pronounced chee), or vital energy, that is believed to flow throughout the body."
As Pang puts it, "In Chinese medicine, we ask more holistic questions" -- to treat the whole person. "Usually," she adds, "[people] ask more questions than they ask an M.D."
The consultation lasts about half an hour. Based on her knowledge and information in her illustrated materia medica, or curative reference books, she prescribes a formula of specific amounts of a dozen or more herbs.
Customers typically take home five paper packets at a cost of about $3.50 to $5 a dose, plus $8 for the consultation. They get instructions on how to properly cook the herbs (in clay pots that she also sells, because some herbs react with metal). She also sells some herbal pills but much prefers the whole raw herbs, most of which she buys from New York City.
The law prohibits her from selling some substances that are toxic or endangered, but she's not required to have a special license or degree. Still, these herbs aren't culinary ones. A few are recognizable and flavorful, such as nutmeg and ginseng. But decoctions almost always taste not like tea, but medicine. As she puts it with a smile, "Unpleasant."
Pang sometimes can sweeten the mix with dates. She has left out other ingredients such as di long -- dried earthworms. She says, "This is kind of gross for Americans, but it works" -- for hypertension, pain and more.
Chinese herbs are not for every medical condition, of course. If someone is suffering from appendicitis or a tumor, say, Pang tells them to go see a physician. But, she says herbs can help as a complementary medicine for even serious conditions such as cancer, relieving symptoms of chemotherapy and radiation.
"I'm honest," she says. "If there's something I can't do, I won't do it."
Pang says herbs can be effective for many chronic problems, including cough, digestive and gynecological conditions, depression and anxiety, as well as for boosting energy and preventive care. "This is something Western medicine doesn't put to much focus on."
Western and traditional Chinese medicine aren't mutually exclusive. The NationalCenter for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says that for most presently nonconventional medical practices "there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies -- questions such as whether these therapies are safe and whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are used. The list of what is considered to be [alternative] changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge."
The National Institutes of Health is funding tens of millions of dollars worth of clinical trials of traditional Chinese therapies, points out Maria B. Yaramus, who is the clinical and research education coordinator for integrative medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute/UPMC Cancer Centers. Because of important issues such as herb purity and drug interactions, she advises people considering herbal therapies to first consult reliable information sources and their physicians. "It's important to have a multi-disciplinary team involved."
Pang already has plenty of customers who praise her and Chinese herbal therapy -- including a group of Africans who travel here by bus from Philadelphia.
One who had experience with it is Beltzhoover's Barry Pryor, who, when he lived in New Jersey, went to Chinese pharmacists in New York's Chinatown for relief for a herniated disc. He avoids drugs and surgery and favors natural foods and herbal supplements.
When he discovered Pang on a Strip shopping trip, he was suffering from acute laryngitis, not good for a part-time community college teacher. "She got me a lot better," he says.
"I would suggest anyone could try it. I think it's very effective. ... Bonnie certainly is a professional, and I wouldn't hesitate to send others to her."
Squirrel Hill's TaibkeHyman also has referred others, but not without warning about the smell and the taste of the decoction. "That's one of the drawbacks. ... But I think if a person can deal with that, I think it can have an impact."
Thanks to word of mouth, fliers and the sandwich board sign on Penn Avenue, more and more Pittsburghers are learning about Chinese herbal medicine. One similarity with Western medicine is practitioners of both can preach against excessive smoking and drinking and too little sleep.
"The herb can help to a certain point," Pang says with a laugh. "But you have to cooperate."
Ming Yip Herb Company, at 2227 Penn Ave. in the Strip District, is open 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
(Bob Batz Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1930.)