Why do Asian doctors give you so much medicine?

I went in for an H1N1 test here in Korea and was told I just had a cold but came out with a prescription for five (!) drugs, none of which I even bothered getting from the chemist’s.

One reason doctors in Japan, Korea and Thailand (my three Asian countries) give so many drugs is that local patients demand them. I’d always assumed that was part of the Asian optimism about science and the future in general and lack of worries about chemicals such as food additives, with maybe a bit of risk-adverse doctors being more likely to be condemned for doing too little rather than too much and some profit to the doctors. According to an article I read yesterday by an American doctor in Korea, though, it is because giving drugs to restore the body’s balance ties in with the ancient Chinese concept of chi (ki in Japanese), being a kind of mystic energy. He said that Western patients thanked him for giving them no treatment, whereas Korean patients demand injections. Certainly ties in with the “more weird stuff is better” philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine.