“You Don’t Have Depression” According to Vietnamese TCM Dr.

So, I loved working with Mr. Sau but the pricing of his herbs were really high!  About $25 cdn per 2 days of herbs or so.  In Canada, I’d pay about $70 for a month’s supply!  (To give you an idea of interesting costs here, a full dental cleaning in a modern office is $6, to get our cat spayed $2, a meal $2-$4).

The Vietnamese people as so kind, and Mr. Vu told me about a local herbs shop where I could get what I needed a lot cheaper.  So off I went on my e-bike to find the shop!

When I got there, I realized we had a translation problem.  So when the shop owner asked me “what your problem” I pulled out my cell phone and trusty Google Translate, and typed in “I have depression.  My head is sad”.  He looked at me so funny!  Then typed back “you can do more”.  Then he said “exercise”…

When we both realized that this form of translation wasn’t going to get us very far, I called Mr. Vu to come meet me at the shop.  When he arrived, he asked me what I told the shop owner that my problem was.  I showed him my phone.

He got so frustrated at me!  He said “this is not what you have!  You have blocked energy!  If you really feel that you have this depression then you go to the hospital and the doctor will give you pills”.  (It’s true, that’s all they do).

While it was not fun to call in a favor, then waste Mr. Vu’s time with

Friendly TCM herb shop owner.

my lack of listening skills, I’m really glad he spoke up with emotion.  It drilled it home to me that in Vietnam, depression isn’t a thing.  It’s a western term.  I immediately apologized, then payed attention to the facts and sensations in my body.  I re-framed why I was there in terms of my symptoms:

“I have a headache, my eyes feel sunk in my head, I’m weak and I have no energy for myself or anyone else in my family”.

I was then whisked to the back area where my pulses were taken by the shop owner, more questions asked (yep!  Libido still at zero!) then I was given a weeks worth of herbal formulas for $12 cdn plus some fresh ginger.  Ah, that’s better!

Herbal powder, herb balls and fresh ginger. $12 cdn.

Ok, lesson learned.  I don’t have depression.  I have a mixture of symptoms that I need to heal.  Thanks Mr. Sau, Mr Vu and the really nice man at the herbal shop!

Appointment With Vietnamese TCM Doctor

The locals here use Mr. Vu’s uncle, Mr. Sau, a third generation physician practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Mr. Vu is the translator while Mr. Sau provides TCM consults, treatments and dispenses herbs when necessary.   I was told about him from a few of the expats here so I was excited to meet with him at our home!

Once settled, Vu asked me what my problem was.  I explained “I have depression in my head.  And I am stopping taking the medicines that my western doctor gave me.  I also have pain down my left leg”. (This leg pain had started a few months ago from walking every morning, maybe in wrong footwear?)

Then I sat on the couch and Mr. Sau pressed on my wrist to take my energy pulses.  Right away he asked about my jaw and started to rub my jaw.  “Is there pain here?”  “Yes, I’ve had jaw and TMJ pain for as I could remember.”  Next he pressed into my low back and asked if I have pain here.  “Yes, I have had low back pain for years.”  Mr. Sau nodded and said that I have had this injury for a long time.  When I explained I had been in a car accident in 2000 he nodded with knowing.


I asked Mr. Vu how Mr. Sau knew this, and Vu said that “Mr. Sau meditates for three hours every day and he can hear ghosts.  He is three people in one.”  WOW!  I love working with people connected to spirit!  Access to so much more knowledge.

Anyway… next, Mr. Sau palpated my right pectoral muscle and found a very weak and sore spot.  Then he found a similar weak and sore spot on my back, directly behind the spot on my chest.

Then Mr. Sau asked to see my pills from my doctor.  He felt them in his hands then told me that these pills are for people who don’t have energy.  And I have lots of energy.

Prognosis:  “You don’t have depression.  You have weak kidneys.  And your tight muscles are blocking your energy to your brain.”  ah ha!  Depression Theory #2!


  • TCM herbs for my kidneys and energy (the big herbal balls), and some for muscle and joint pain (small herbal balls).  Both are made from hand picked local herbs, rolled and dried in the sun.  I am to chew on the big herb balls, and swallow the small ones down with water.
  • Ginger poultice on my back and chest to relieve pain (ginger cooked down with rice wine).
  • Stretch my neck down, and side to side many times a day.
  • Stretch my inner thighs and quads.
    • Side to side knee
    • bends
    • Camel pose until I can remove the pillows and lay back on the floor.
    • Wide legs stretch, using a wall to eventually get deeper, rotating my ankles in and out

Ready to try this out!  Stay tuned!