Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Originated thousands of years ago in ancient China, Traditional Chines Medicine (TCM) is heavily rooted in traditional Eastern philosophy. Though the philosophy was not a single one and did not originate in only one era of Chinese history, but was built on, added to, and modified throughout history, the ultimate source of TCM theory came from Taoism, which was derived from I Ching. In TCM’s basic theory, unity of heaven and human is the highest principle. TCM practitioners are educated from the first minute that human body is actually a small universe within the large universe where we live. Human must respect to nature and get along with the environment in perfect harmony. In TCM anatomy, the internal organs of the body are all interconnected with one another by pathways called Jing Luo (meridians), which are located throughout the body. Therefore, TCM treats human body holistically, using a variety of therapies, including acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, Chinese medicine, Tui Na Massage, Cupping, Gua Sha, Dao Yin (ancient Chinese exercise), etc. It is a good idea to let the Dr. TCM select the best therapies that suit the present condition of the patients, of the weather and of the living environment.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the important therapies of TCM. Ancient Chinese have discovered hundreds of acu-points located in different meridians all over the human body. Acupuncturists will place fine, sterile needles on specific points and do some manipulations during the time when needles retaining in the skin in order to boost patient’s immune system thus heal various diseases and syndromes. People may think that acupuncture is a remedy about stimulating the muscles, the fascia or the nerves, which is on the physical/visible side. However, it is just a small part of acupuncture. In TCM, acupuncture aims to improve the circulation of Qi, which includes both the physical/visible side and the functional/invisible side. Jing Luo, or so-called meridians, are the channels for Qi moving over the body. They link interior organs with various tissues of superficial areas of the body. In this way, they not only connect different superficial areas of the body, but also allow for internal adaptation to external change. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you see your acupuncturist inserting needles on your legs to treat your shoulder pain, or on your hands to treat your back pain.

What is Qi?

Qi is the primitive element of universe, namely, all creatures in the universe are regulated by Qi’s movement. In order to make people not familiar with Chinese ancient philosophy, Qi may be described as bio information and energy flow in modern words. In terms of human health, Qi is the motive power or vital drive of life, which determines human’s birth, aging, sickness and death. Though invisible to ordinary people, even modern science is still finding its way to track or explain it completely, those senior Qi Gong masters can feel it and see it flowing in the body. Qi is the guiding ideology of TCM and is widely applied to explain life activities of the human body.

How does acupuncture work?

TCM is a medical system that let the human body heal itself by activating the natural healing power that everyone possesses. It is a healing art about induction/promotion rather than direct intervention. In TCM theory, all diseases and conditions originally result from the abnormal movement of Qi. If a person suffers from pain or other internal diseases, it is regarded as a signal that the flow of Qi is not smooth enough, which need to be corrected as early as possible to prevent it from aggravation. Acupuncture activates the natural healing power, boosts the immune system by dredging the Jing Luo, allowing Qi to flow to where it is deficient and away from where it is excessive.

What can acupuncture help with human health?

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report called “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.” You will see a list of the conditions mentioned in that report. For more details, please refer to the report attached. Please note that there are plenty of additional conditions which centuries of empirical data have shown acupuncture treats effectively but for which there is little or no modern western research. Since TCM is a holistic medical system, a TCM professional treats the human body itself, instead of treating the diseases, or just eliminating some specific symptoms. Therefore the diseases and conditions that acupuncture can help are not limited to the list. If you have questions whether acupuncture can help you, be sure to contact us so we can address your specific situation.

What will happen during the initial visit?

For initial visits, the practitioner needs to gather as much information as possible to have a full picture of your constitution. You will be having a pleasant conversation with the practitioner. You will be asked a few questions about your current symptoms and any treatments you have so far. It is also important to give details about your health history and that of your family, your ADLs including diet, exercise, sleeping patterns and emotional state, and for females, the menstruation and pregnancy-labor history. The Dr. TCM/acupuncturist will check the appearance of your tongue (take pictures of your tongue) and feel your pulse to get a better evaluation of your general health. Sometimes abdomen examination will be applied when necessary.

Is acupuncture safe? Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is safe when it is practised by fully-trained registered Dr. of TCM and acupuncturists. In Canada, a registered acupuncturist has to complete a minimum of 1,900 hours of study over 3 academic years before writing the Pan-Canadian Exams, including a minimum of 450 hours of clinical instruction of which at least 225 hours must be in supervised practice. know exactly where and how deep to insert the needles. A registered Dr. of TCM has to complete a minimum of 3,250 hours of study over 5 academic years before writing the Pan-Canadian Exams, including a minimum of 1,050 hours of clinical instruction of which at least 825 hour must be in supervised practice. And there is no chance of infection as sterilized disposable needles are always used and proper clinical hygiene procedures are practised. In most circumstances, people barely feel any pain due to the needles themselves. Occasionally some people might feel some sensation no more than a mosquito bite.

How should I prepare for the visit?

  • Be ready to provide as much information as you can relating to your health conditions.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points. A pair of short pants will be handy in case.
  • Be sure not to come with an empty stomach and also avoid a large meal just before your visit. Do not brush your tongue the day of your visit. Avoid food or drink such as coffee, tea or candies that can alter the color of your tongue coating at least 30 min. before your visit.
  • Better remove any makeups before your visit.
  • Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to six hours after the visit.
  • Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occurred, such as the alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas, or changes in the frequency and type of problems.

How many treatments should I have? How often?

The number of treatments required depends on each person’s condition, natural constitution, ADLs, treatment frequency and response to acupuncture. One or two sessions a week for at least four weeks is the normal course of treatment. Although in many cases people experience significant improvement after two or three sessions, more sessions will still be strongly recommended in order to maintain long-term effects. Your acupuncturist will adjust the treatment length and frequency based on his/her knowledge and evaluation of your present situation.