We officially want to welcome you to the launch of the Richmond Hill Acupuncture and Natural Therapy’s new website and blog! Here at RHANT, we pride ourselves in the quality of service, especially our acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well as educating and empowering our patients. As part of our duty as practitioners of Chinese medicine, it is important for us to educate our patients about the different treatments available to you, the range of diseases/disorders we can treat or aid in your recovery with, and diet and lifestyle recommendations pertaining to your condition. As a way of doing this, we have decided to use this blog as an on-going way to educate our patients. As this is our first of our blogs, we would like to give an overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and some frequently asked questions about it, and how TCM can help you and your family and friends.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system with a 5000 year history. The focus of TCM is to treat disease holistically, diagnose disease by breaking down the disease into its basic characteristics, treating the disease from the root cause, and to prevent disease by promoting healthy living. TCM treats people holistically, by not only looking at the characteristics of the disease, but by looking at the individual’s overall heath, their lifestyle, emotions, and their social and physical environments, which all have impact on a person’s health. Diagnosis of disease is individualized and specific to each individual’s condition at the a certain time, and will change as the disease itself changes. Treatment of the disease will focus on the root of the disease. If we only treat the disease itself, and not the root of the disease, the symptoms will recur again and again. However, if we treat the root of the disease, the symptoms will itself diminish, and will disappear once the root of the disease is fixed. TCM also emphasizes the importance of preventing disease rather than treating the disease, since preventing a disease is easier than treating a disease once it develops. Patient education can help prevent disease by helping patients know their bodies better and to adjust their diet and activities based on what is better for their own bodies.

TCM consists of three main modalities for treatment: acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Tuina massage, which we will briefly outline. Each modality has its effective on its own, but is often combined together to form an effective and holistic treatment. Our practitioners will prescribe the combination where they deem will be the most effective for your specific condition at the time of the treatment.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin sterile needles into the skin into specific acupuncture points to achieve a therapeutic and healing effect by improving the circulation of Qi and blood in the body, and balancing the different body systems. When the flow of Qi and blood is impeded, it will result in imbalances in the body, which can result in disease. Acupuncture is used to initiate your body’s natural ability to repair itself. Each acupuncture point has its own unique function, and the points selected will be based on what the patient is experiencing each visit, creating a tailored treatment for each person.

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese herbal medicine uses natural herbal remedies to treat the body from the inside out. These natural remedies are generally from different parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, roots, and bark. Some other remedies can include minerals or animal products. We do not use any animal products that are endangered and we also have vegetarian or vegan options as well. There are hundreds of different Chinese herbal ingredients, which are combined into formulas. There are thousands of traditional formulas have been passed down from generations for thousands of years for treating and preventing diseases, and modern research is just beginning to uncover the mechanism of their amazing power.

What is Tuina Massage?

Tuina massage is a Chinese therapeutic massage based on the theories and principles of TCM. It focuses on regulating the Qi and Blood in the channels and meridians of the body to balance the body, and to treat disease. It is both relaxing and therapeutic at the same time.

What happens during a typical acupuncture treatment?

If it is your first time, an initial consultation will be done. This involves filling out a questionnaire that will give the practitioner a better understanding of your health history, history of the present illness, your emotions, lifestyle and your environment. Afterwards, the practitioner will discuss your case together with you, getting more details about the problem at hand. The practitioner will ask some questions that may seem unrelated your chief complaint, but it provides pertinent information about the underlying condition. Be prepared to answer questions about your appetite, sleep, emotions, bowel movements, urine, sexual function, and for women, questions about your menstrual cycle.

Afterwards, the practitioner will take your pulse, and look at your tongue. These are classic diagnosis tools used in TCM that reveal what is going on in your body. This consultation process may last 30 minutes. After the consultation, the practitioner will explain to you their diagnosis, what is causing your disease, and the treatment plan. Based on what their diagnosis, the proper modality that best suits your condition will be chosen.

If they think that acupuncture is the best course of treatment, then you will be given an acupuncture treatment. It is done in a private room, and needles will be inserted into different acupuncture points. The needles are then left in for around 30 minutes or longer. After the acupuncture treatment, other modalities such as Tuina, scrapping, or blood-letting may be done, depending of the practitioner’s discretion.

Why do you have to look at my tongue? What is Tongue Diagnosis?

Tongue diagnosis is an unique method of diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM, all the major organs of the body connect to the tongue. Any changes of these organs will therefore be manifested on the tongue as well. Therefore, the tongue can reveal many things about the condition of your body. When we look at the tongue, we look at the color of the tongue body, the shape of the tongue, the thickness and colour of the tongue coating, abnormal colour changes in different parts of the tongue, and other special features of the tongue (ex. teethmarks, bumps, cracks, etc.). The color of the tongue tells us if your body is more hot or cold, or if there is any stagnations in your body. The tongue shape may indicate the amount of fluid in your body, with swollen tongue indicating accumulation of pathogenic water in your body. The tongue coating tells us how well your digestive system is working. Different areas of the tongue correspond to different organs, so changes in each section tell us what is going on in that particular organ. The tip of the tongue corresponds to the Lungs and Heart. The middle part corresponds to the Spleen and Stomach. The sides represent the Liver and Gall Bladder and the back corresponds to the Kidneys.

Why do you have to take my pulse? What is Pulse Diagnosis?

Pulse diagnosis is common in both Western and Chinese medicine. However, when you go to your family doctor, they usually only measure your blood pressure and heart rate. In TCM, we also measure the blood pressure and heart rate, however, we also look at the strength of the pulse, the level of the pulse, the width of the pulse, and the characteristic feel of the pulse. These give us a very detailed idea of what is going on inside your body.

You will often see TCM practitioners use three fingers on each arm to feel the pulse. This is because on each arm, there are three positions for the pulse, where each one corresponds to a specific organ. On the right hand, starting from the wrist, is the Lung pulse, the Spleen pulse and the Kidney Yang pulse. On the left hand, starting from the wrist, is the Heart pulse, the Liver pulse and the Kidney Yin pulse. The right hand tells us how strong your Yang and Qi of your body is doing, and the left hand tells us about the condition of your Yin and blood.

A trained practitioner can tell the condition of each of your organ just from the characteristic of the pulse in each position. From just palpating the pulse, practitioners can often predict what symptoms a patient may be experiencing. In combination with the tongue diagnosis, the practitioner will have an accurate picture of what is happening inside the patient’s body, or how the disease is affecting the patient.

What can TCM do for you?

TCM is a holistic medicine, that takes everything in your life into consideration, including physical, emotional, and psychosocial problems into consideration, and therefore, can help improve many aspects of your life. Firstly, TCM is used to treat diseases. More importantly, TCM focuses on treating the root of the disease so that the disease will not recur again. TCM does this by balancing the body, strengthening the functions of the internal organs, and by expelling the pathogens and other pathological accumulations in the body. Moreover, TCM is a good compliment to other treatments, or to reduce the side effects of other treatments. Lastly, TCM focuses on preventing disease, which is easier to treat than after the disease have developed, keeping you fit and healthy.

What kind of things can TCM treat?

Here is a list of diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven to be an effective treatment or have therapeutic effect, through controlled trials, according to the World Health Organization:

Allergies/hay fever
Abdominal pain
Alcohol dependence
Bell’s palsy
Cancer pain
Earache and ear infections
Eye pain
Facial pain
Female infertility
Frozen shoulder
Gall stones and inflammation
Headaches and migraines
Hyperlipaemia or high cholesterol
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Impotence or erectile dysfunction
Knee pain
Lactation deficiency
Low back pain
Lower urinary-tract infection
Malposition of fetus
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Nose bleeds
Painful menstruation
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Postoperative pain
Premenstrual syndrome
Raynaud syndrome
Retention of urine
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Stiff neck
Stomach pain or ulcers
Tennis elbow
Tobacco dependence
Ulcerative colitis

As you can see, TCM and acupuncture have a lot to offer! Through these newsletters, we hope to cover a more in-depth look into how TCM and acupuncture can play a role in helping with each disease. Not only will we have articles every month, but we will have special promotions each month via our newsletters, so make sure to keep an eye out for our newsletters! If you have any would like to try TCM and acupuncture, or know someone who may benefit from acupuncture, book you appointment today!

Book your appointment now!