Why Choose Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete system of health care that includes prevention and treatment of illness and disease. It is over 5000 years old and originated in China. It is appropriate for all ages from infants to the elderly. It includes Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal medicine Tuina (Chinese massage) and Nutrition One concept that is central to Chinese medicine that the scientific world is still struggling to accept is an internal substance that the Chinese call "Qi" In the West we could describe this as bioelectric energy. You can't look at it under a microscope, but you can locate the acupoints electrically. Martial artists sometimes feel it as heat in the palms of their hands, or warm liquid moving throughout the body.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person.The severity of the condition determines the number of treatments required. Moderate cases require only a few treatments. For complex, chronic or longstanding conditions, two or three treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually more visits are required, and for health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects?

Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.

What Are the Needles Like? Do They Hurt?

People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal sensation as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle. Since disposable needles are used there is no risk of infection from treatments.

Does Acupuncture Really Work?

Yes. In the past 2000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, the Soviet Union, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians. Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time as other techniques are being used, such as conventional Western medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic or naturopathic prescriptions. It is important that your practitioner know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefit from all your treatments. The Canadian edition of Time magazine November 17 1997 has a page reading "Acupuncture Works". "A U.S. panel endorses the ancient Chinese needle treatment-at least for some conditions". "The panel found acupuncture effective in treating painful disorders of the muscle and skeletal systems, such as fibromyalgia and tennis elbow- even more effective, in some, than conventional therapies. It was judged to be a `reasonable option' for the relief of postoperative pain, and low back pain. "Acupuncture's one great advantage over Western medicine is that it does no harm; unlike drugs and surgery, acupuncture has virtually no side effects. For acupuncturists who have been saying this for years, it was recognition long overdue".

Do I Have to Believe in Acupuncture for it to Work?

NO. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses, and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. "However it happens, scientists know that acupuncture produces measurable changes in the brain. Some of the most compelling evidence presented last week was a series of brain scans taken by Dr. Abass Alavi, chief of nuclear medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Alavi's images showed dramatic changes in regions of the central nervous system that coordinate the perception of pain. `Acupuncture definitely changed the landscape of pain we see in the brain,' Alavi told the panel". The future of acupuncture in the U.S. will not rest on the quality of these experiments. If it's cheaper and less painful than going to the hospital and if it gets results, Americans will use it. A Boston University researcher told the panel that the saving from just faster stroke rehabilitation and effective carpal-tunnel syndrome treatment could cut America's annual medical bill by $11 billion. Why something works is not of interest to those individuals and organizations providing care. What matters these days is that it works for less".

Is Acupuncture Covered by Health Insurance?

Now that Acupuncture is regulated and a college has been formed, most insurance companies currently cover acupuncture costs under extended Health coverage as they do Chiropractic and Registered Massage Therapy. Each health policy must be reviewed to determine acupuncture benefits. Several years ago American Blue Cross and Blue Shield began covering Acupuncture treatments for all of their patients. Similar coverage should be available through different health plans in Canada. You can help by insisting that your insurance company offer you reimbursement for medically indicated acupuncture treatments before you accept their policy.

How Do Chinese Herbs Work?

Acupuncture is a specialty within Chinese Medicine as surgery is a specialty within the practice of Western Medicine. In the course of your treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine, you may be prescribed an herbal supplement. Herbs are a variety of naturally found products that have medicinal properties that add to the healthful benefits of acupuncture.

Chinese Medicine has always been the practice of Medicine by the use of herbs. Not just single herbs, but polyherbal formulas with multiple herbs used in specific amounts based on a Chinese herbal pharmacy of hundreds and hundreds of herbs.

The Chinese not only use herbs but also animal and mineral products. All these substances have been categorized into specific groups based on an energetic description of the substance or herb. This means that the energy of the plant is spoken of in terms of such things as taste, flavor, direction, temperature etc. The herbs are also given a specific function or functions. That is, they do something very specific not only by themselves but also when combined in a formula. This method of describing the herbs can be used by a trained practitioner to custom tailor an herbal formula to an individual patient with a particular Chinese diagnosis. This is the beauty of Chinese Medicine. There are many recipes in "Traditional Chinese Medicine" that have been developed during the past 2OOO years and tested with time.

Herbal formulas can be taken in a variety of ways. You may be prescribed raw herbs. You will take them home, and following simple instructions, steep these herbs into a tea to be drunk at home. Although we call it "tea", some patients find the taste to be a little less than "delicious." For this reason, many practitioners also offer herbal supplements in pill and capsule form. Herbal formulas tend to be created for a single patient and their specific pattern of disharmony.

An example of Energetics

Let's say that your suffering from arthritis that is aggravated by humidity or rain. From the Chinese perspective, that would be an invasion of cold and damp into the acupuncture meridians, or freeways of energy within the body. Sometimes this cold and damp will lodge in the joints and this is what we, in the Western world call Arthritis.

There are, however, certain plants that are very comfortable living in cold damp environments. They have a natural defense against excessive cold and damp weather. There is one in particular that is called Hai Tong Pi. This translates to Sea Vine Bark. There is, in this bark, the necessary energetics required to keep this plant that lives near the sea, free from constant invasion of cold and damp air. Ingesting the bark in the form of tea will provide those who suffer from arthritis the same relief from pain associated with an internal invasion of cold and damp as is enjoyed by Hai Tong Pi.

Natural VS Synthetic

In most cases, medicines formulated in pharmaceutical labs can be just as effective as their natural counterpart. Due to higher concentrations of the active ingredients, they are often times more potent. Herein lies one of the problems!

Please keep in mind that our bodies are a part of nature and must interact harmoniously with its environment and the natural laws governing it. We are composed of, and require certain elements (from nature) in specific ratios in order to promote optimum health. With this in mind, consider this; when we use natural substances as a medicament, for example garlic, we not only ingest the active ingredient, allicin, but the "reactive" ones as well, and in all their proper (natural) ratios. This is very important for several reasons. The most important being that all components are in a chemical environment which determines their effect and effectiveness. This is known as "endo-synergy". This endo-synergy is why an herbal has a specific affect and a predictable range of effects. When a lab synthesizes or extracts only the so-called active ingredients, the chemical environment is then altered to one that lacks the necessary synergism.

Also important, because it now lacks the reactive components, it may have a negative impact on the body's economy, when used repeatedly. For example, the active ingredient has an affinity to certain elements by nature (as in the case of iron and oxygen) which it seeks to combine with. If this happens frequently within the body, with routine use of synthetics, the body's reserve of certain nutrients may become depleted to the point where one develops intolerance to that particular synthetic medicament. If ignored and its use continues, that intolerance may be expressed as disease symptoms as the body attempts to acclimate. These symptoms are seen, by most, as being side effects, when they are actually functional imbalances.

Chinese Dietary Therapy

Sun Si Miao, a famous Chinese doctor, said look at the diet first when treating health problems. A person can receive a therapeutic treatment, such as acupuncture, once a week, but they eat 21 times a week. What this points out is that a person can override any treatment fairly easily by keeping a diet that is wrong for them. Chinese dietary therapy can be broken down into therapy for health maintenance for prevention of disease and for treatment of health concerns.


Preventative health maintenance with dietary therapy basically involves not doing anything to disrupt the natural process of the digestion. The stomach begins the digestive process by holding the food and liquid and turning it into warm soup so that it can be further refined by the body. This process of refining food and liquid into a usable essence is one of the steps in the process of making QI for the body's use. Combined with inhalation of air, the digestion makes possible the creation of Qi. If we have proper digestion, then, we have one of the main ingredients of the Qi manufactured in our body. This Qi is then circulated to the internal organs and all parts of the body. Chinese dietary therapy uses foods to strengthen digestion, increase energy and balance the body's energy. Dietary therapy is often used prior to or in conjunction with other therapies to increase the effectiveness of these treatments. Then we feel healthy, balanced and have enough Qi to do what we need to do throughout the day.

Principles of Preventative Dietary Therapy

Balance the types of food you eat and eat a variety of foods that are natural and fresh. Eat a combination of foods that include all the 5 Flavors or tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, pungent. Avoid any extreme diets. Avoid foods that are "wrecked" - those foods that are "left overs" or have been refrigerated for over 24 hours and frozen. You can tell by the smell and flavor most of the time.

Don't eat too many different things at one meal. Eat mostly vegetables and grains, fresh fruit and small amounts of meat. After age 40, Eat a little more animal protein, which can include some dairy and eggs.

Don't limit the variety over a long period of time. Don't eat too much, only to 70% full, because eating less "benefits the intestines" and avoids Stagnant accumulation of food according to Chinese medicine. Quantity wise, it is best to eat a big breakfast, a smaller amount at lunch, and a light supper. Eat more often throughout the day as you get older. Eat when hungry, not according to time. If one eats when not hungry and thirsty then there is injury to the digestion. Also, if upset don't eat.

Most of our food i.e. vegetables, should be lightly cooked as in steaming, boiling or a light stir-fry. Grains are to be cooked enough so that they are soft and easy to digest. Cooking is considered predigesting and prepares the food to be more easily broken down by the digestion. Raw, cold, frozen and dairy are considered hard to digest and overconsumption will slow down or "cool" the efficiency of the digestion. Over time this "cold " and cooling type of foods will harm the digestion and make it weak and unable to function normally. One should also avoid eating foods that are too hot energetically and temperature wise.

Eat in season: The winter is a time of slowing down, regeneration and storage. In winter eat supplementing foods and small amounts of Cold foods. In spring one eats more foods with the sweet taste than sour. Nothing should be done to cause harm to the Liver. Don't overeat, and only take small amounts of Hot foods in summer. No greasy, hard to digest foods. Food should be light and easy to digest. In the fall, eat a little more moist food i.e.: pears, tomatoes etc.. When we do that which we should not, this interacts with our biochemical makeup to create the (virtually completely predictable) diseases that we are familiar with. When we lead a "Clean" life, our biochemistry is neither irritated nor upset. As a result, diseases don't occur.

It is my best guess that our bodies are not designed to be strictly vegetarian. I also believe that our bodies are designed to have a very high fiber (vegetarian dominated) type diet. Behaving inappropriately to our bodies is analogous to an albino who persists in going to the beach to sunbathe, on clear, hot days, with no protection. It is up to each of us to accept our own responsibility for the prevention and/or creation of diseases.

As each of us makes decisions about how we live our lives and what we do/don't do within those lives, we must accept the responsibility for our own choices. We must experience the consequences from these actions without becoming upset, learn from that experience, and change accordingly, if we wish to remain healthy, free and happy.

Qi Gong Exercise / Meditation / T'ai Chi

Qi Gong, the Chinese art of exercise/meditation, uses dynamic movements and still postures in combination with spiritual concentration to influence the flow of Qi. It is a powerful preventive therapy and can help remedy disharmony in the Organ Systems and the channels.

T'ai Chi is a Chinese form of exercise that is hundreds of years old. T'ai Chi consists of slow relaxed movements which circulate energy or Chi (chee) throughout the body. Anyone can learn it regardless of age, sex or physical condition. However, T'ai Chi cannot be learned from a book or video. Personal instruction is necessary. A weekly group lesson is supplemented by private practice. After 6 - 9 months, one has learned the form of T'ai Chi and can do it in only 10 minutes. Practiced daily, T'ai Chi can give strength and health to the weakest person.

On the physical level T'ai Chi teaches us relaxation by rooting oneself to the ground. T'ai Chi recognizes that all tension in the body is expressed as holding the weight up. For example, when we are under stress we have the tendency to raise our shoulders and tighten the neck muscles. Conversely, all relaxation is expressed as releasing the weight down. Through practice, the weight of your body will feel greater than before. That is, the arm of a relaxed person feels heavier than the arm of a person who is tense because a relaxed person surrenders to gravity instead of fighting it. As the body relaxes completely and its weight settles downward, you feel your feet becoming rooted to the earth. Your upper body becomes light as if suspended on a string, which pulls you upward. Each step is stable and solid. When there is relaxation the movements of T'ai Chi can be done slowly and with gracefulness.

T'ai Chi focuses on developing not only the physical body but also the mind. Usually our mind is filled with mental chatter about the past and future and is easily distracted. T'ai Chi strengthens one's concentration by focusing our attention on the body's center of gravity as we do the T'ai Chi form. This center is located in the lower abdomen and is called the Tan Tien. Focusing on the Tan Tien gives balance and strength to our movements. Gradually the habit of centering oneself brings about a shift in our orientation to life. We shift from meeting life with the chatter of our minds to meeting life directly and adapting to it like flowing water.

From the point of view of Chinese medicine, the amount and circulation of one's Qi primarily determine one's health and strength. Though Qi cannot be measured like we can measure blood pressure we all have had direct experiences of strong or weak Qi. When we feel positive, light and energized our Qi is strong. Conversely, when we feel depressed, heavy and fatigued our Qi is weak. T'ai Chi enhances our Qi so that through its practice we can experience health, vitality and well being on a more consistent basis.


Acupressure is the pressing of acupoints, but Tui Na (or Tuina, pronounced "twee-na) makes use of many different strokes that are applied to acupoints, channels and muscle groups. Most importantly, Tui Na is a physical expression of the flow of Qi energy from one human being to another. When done with correct intent, the strokes and techniques stimulate an exchange of Qi energy between the practitioner and the patient, and this is the secret healing power of Tui Na.

Receiving Treatment

When you select a practitioner and go for treatment, you don't surrender control of your health. Chinese medicine recognizes that we each possess the tools we need to preserve or reclaim good health. The good (or excellent) practitioner simply acts as the guide, helping to coax the body's own defenses to prevent or mend disharmony.

In Conclusion

If I give an acupuncture treatment that is solely designed to activate the Qi in the body, many unusual aches and pains within the patient will be abated. When modern Western research attempts to determine what happened to take away the pain they'll look toward endorphin release in the nervous system, the body's natural painkillers. They may even find a higher prevalence of these painkillers in the blood stream that confirms that this is what acupuncture "really" does, but this is only the body's response to what "really" happened from the Oriental viewpoint. This is the law of Yang controlling Yin. What "really" happened is the Qi energy that wasn't moving well was activated to move better.

However, this is never understood, nor researched. And I believe that this is truly unfortunate. It is because of this materialistic approach to medicine that so many alternative treatments are written off to the placebo effect or the end of symptoms because the patient believes they are supposed to end. And it is this same approach that so many real diseases avoid understanding by Western medicine.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia are but a few common conditions that Western medicine considers "idiopathic" which means that the cause is unknown. In Chinese medicine, the cause is quite simply a stagnation of the flow of Qi energy due to a small variety of factors.

The fact is, the cause is not physical, however the symptoms are. Western medicine can see and measure certain changes in the body's chemistry and functional activities with these conditions, but cannot act upon these changes for lack of understanding of their cause. The symptoms are too divergent and unrelated from a materialistic standpoint. But when you factor in Qi energy and its properties, all these conditions make perfect sense.

Chinese medicine has a great deal to offer the Western discipline of internal medicine, perhaps more than the "pain control" applications that are finally being accepted in the Western medical community. Ten years ago, using acupuncture for muscular pain control too, was considered quite silly. Before that it was illegal to practice it . In another ten years, I hope that we'll see a greater acceptance of Oriental medicine's true genius, and this is in the area of Internal medicine.

©NLCMAC 2015

HOME        |        ABOUT        |        SERVICES        |        FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS        |        LINKS        |        CONTACT