Experts in traditional Chinese medicine came all the way to America to view Ing Hay and Lung On’s stock of traditional remedies and records dating back to the 1870s.
Half a dozen professors from other countries and a Ph.D. student toured the Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day.
Professor Zhao Zhongzhen said it was his dream to come to the museum.
Zhongzhen referred to Hay as the “pioneer of development of herbal medicine in the United States.”
Hay used Eastern and Western medicine in conjuncture, Zhongzhen said. Much of his supplies were imported from China, but the doctor also used local herbs and other ingredients, including rattlesnake venom.
The visit also served as a scouting excursion to explore the possibility of working with the museum and the Discovery Channel for a short feature on Kam Wah Chung, Ph.D. student Eric Brand said.
“Professor Zhao is working with the Discovery Channel on a fully funded TV series focused on Chinese herbal medicine, and he feels that the Kam Wah Chung collection would be an ideal cultural story to include in the series,” Brand said.
Brand had previously visited the museum and described it to Zhongzhen, who became very enthusiastic about the Kam Wah Chung collection. The two organized a trip to bring a group of scholars from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China to see it in real life.
“This is the first time, but not the last time,” Zhongzhen said. “I will be here again.”
During their visit, the professors pointed out an apricot tree near Kam Wah Chung.
Some traditional doctors would accept payment from less-fortunate customers in the form of them planting an apricot tree, Brand said.
The apricot tree was planted at roughly the same time as Hay had been practicing medicine and Brand speculated it could be a form of payment from a customer.
The main part of the trip was to visit the museum. Brand called it the “centerpiece” of the trip.
The group, which consists of a number of experts on traditional herbs, has traveled together for a decade.
“Every year, we go to a different province in China to see markets and farms,” Brand said.
He wrote a chapter of his thesis on Kam Wah Chung and wanted to share what he found with professors and friends.