Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been practiced for over 3,000 years. TCM views disease as the result of an imbalance or blockage in the body’s natural energy flow, called Qi (pronounced "chi"). Such imbalances can manifest in physical, emotional, and stress-related disorders. In our practice we use acupuncture as a way to unblock or influence Qi and help it flow back into balance.

Acupuncture is performed by placing very thin needles into the skin at certain points (or acupoints) and leaving them there for a short time. This is done to influence the energy flow and trigger physiological effects. For most people, the effect often instills a sense of peace and tranquility.

TCM comprises medical acupuncture, botanical medicine, lifestyle counselling, massage, diet and exercise, with its own system of diagnosis. TCM uses this system to treat patients with a variety of conditions, including pain management, spasm and twitching, edema, allergies and asthma, sleep disorders, digestive disorders, integrative cancer care, and stress.

Using TCM diagnosis, acupuncture is widely considered to be beneficial for a range of illnesses and symptoms, from clearly defined complaints to more general feelings of ill health and low energy. The World Health Organization classifies TCM as a major complement to conventional medicine.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine - Supportive Cancer Care

In the context of cancer care, TCM and acupuncture can support and relieve various health side effects due to the nature of the disease or due to cancer treatment-related side-effects. The objective of TCM and acupuncture treatments for cancer patients is to improve quality of life and optimize the outcome of conventional cancer treatments.

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic Hours

Giao Tran, Acupuncturist & TCM Practitioner
Monday & Friday, 8:00 am - 10:30 am
Tuesday & Thursday, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Read about Giao

Fees

Initial Consultation
60 Minutes - $95

Extended Treatment
45 Minutes - $75

Regular Treatment
30 Minutes - $55

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine FAQs

Please see our services under Supportive Cancer Care and General Health for a full description of acupuncture.

TCM includes acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbs, and moxibustion.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is about balance and harmony. Internally it values the homeostatic, the harmony the Yin and Yang, the Five Elements (Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth) and the free flow of the Blood and Qi. Externally, it promotes harmony with the environment and moderation in actions. 

Acupuncture and TCM can be of support to cancer patients at any stage of their disease: just after diagnosis/ pre-treatment, while undergoing active treatment(s) as well as post-treatment. Acupuncture and TCM can play an important role in relieving side effects and enhancing the treatment outcomes of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and other prescribed treatments.

In the context of cancer care, using a TCM diagnosis, acupuncture is considered to be beneficial for the following common side effects of cancer diagnosis and/or treatments:

  • Pain, neuropathy, hot flashes
  • Fatigue, brain fog (“chemo brain”)
  • Low Blood Counts: low red blood cells, low white blood cells, low platelets, low/ very low neutrophils
  • Digestive Issues: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, xerostomia (dry mouth), loss of appetite, loss of taste, loss of smell, bitter taste
  • Mental Wellness: stress, anxiety, depression, fear,
  • Inflammations: inflammation of the liver (high liver enzymes), the kidneys (high creatinine), the pancreas (high lipase),
  • Edema: lymphedema, edema
  • Swelling: local swelling(s) in the body, whole body fluid retention

This list is not exhaustive. Please see below for a full list of the conditions that acupuncture and TCM can help with.

In a broader scope, using a TCM diagnosis, acupuncture is considered to be beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including:

  • General wellness: fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, hot or cold feelings, excessive sweats, cold and flu
  • Digestive Issues: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heart-burns, stomach aches, discomfort due to Celiac Disease, discomfort due to Chhorn’s/colitis, hemorrhoids, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), xerostomia (dry mouth), excessive phlegm, loss of appetite, loss of taste, loss of smell, bitter taste
  • Mental Wellness: stress, anxiety, depression, fear, hallucinations, and other psychiatric diagnoses
  • Inflammations: inflammation of the liver (high liver enzymes), the kidneys (high creatinine), the pancreas (high lipase), rheumatoid arthritis, sties
  • Edema: lymphedema, edema
  • Swelling: local swelling(s) in the body, whole body fluid retention
  • Respiratory Issues: asthma, COPD, seasonal allergies, , cough, hemoptysis (coughing up blood), chronic sinusitis, running nose, nasal congestions, excessive sneezing
  • Skin Issues: rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis
  • Heart Issues: palpitation, irregular or pounding heart beats, high blood pressure, chest pain, post-stroke rehabilitation, Reynaud's, vertigo
  • Low Blood Counts: low red blood cells, low white blood cells, low platelets, low/ very low neutrophils
  • Urinary Issues: incontinence, frequent urination, hesitant or painful urination, hematuria, proteinuria
  • Sexual Dysfunction: erectile dysfunction, low libido, vaginal dryness, painful scrotum, shrinking genital organ
  • Women’s Health Concerns: hormonal imbalances, menstruation issues, PMS, fertility issues, PCOS, endometriosis, hot flashes, night sweats, conversion of breech presentations prior to birth
  • Neurological Disorders: pain, neuropathy, phantom pain, headaches, migraines, traumatic brains injuries, (post) concussion, tingling sensations, pins and needles, fibromyalgia, hand-foot syndromes, deviation of the mouth, of the eyes, Bell's palsy, paralysis, tremor, tics, spasm, restless-leg syndrome
  • Children’s Health Concerns: digestive issues, slow growth, spasm, convulsion, epilepsy, jaundice, tumours, cancer support
  • Sport Concerns: athletic performance, sports injuries

Acupuncture and TCM can be of support to cancer patients at any stage of their disease: just after diagnosis/ pre-treatment, while undergoing active treatment(s) as well as post-treatment. Acupuncture and TCM can play an important role in relieving side effects and enhancing the treatment outcomes of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and other prescribed treatments.

A plethora of medical research has demonstrated the utility of acupuncture as a complementary therapy.

For example, evidence shows that the body’s natural painkillers such as endorphins and peptide opioids are released with the stimulation of acupuncture points. As well, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, producing a broad range of systemic effects. In addition, the literature has shown that acupuncture can increase blood flow to the body and can alter the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Many research studies have also shown that acupuncture therapy also positively impacts the immune system.

Here are some other helpful research summaries and resources that demonstrate and elaborate on acupuncture’s effectiveness:

This authentic, holistic approach is very different from simplified versions of needles therapy (sometimes misleadingly called "acupuncture") performed by other professions, without a TCM diagnosis, such as Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Medical doctors or Naturopathic doctors who are not Registered Acupuncturists or Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners. It is clear that TCM modalities are best practiced with TCM diagnosis. Shortcuts or simplified version of this ancient medicine certainly leads to poor outcome.

YES!

The needles used at the CHI are one-time use only and come out of a sterile package. They are non-allergenic and of highest quality, meaning that they will not cause any reactions. Acupuncture needles are never inserted deeply enough to cause damage to any part of the body.

Please note that acupuncture needles are never inserted in an active disease site. In fact, most needles are inserted far away from the active disease site.

Acupuncture treatments are safe for those with low blood counts (ex: low neutrophils, low platelets), as well as those with lymphedema. For patients with needle phobia or with very low blood counts, needle-less approaches will be used instead.

The safety of acupuncture treatment is also outlined in the following medical literature:

Our acupuncturist uses one to eight thin needles per session. On average, our acupuncturist uses six needles per session.

For patients with needle phobia or with very low blood counts, needle-less approaches will be used instead.

Please note that acupuncture needles are never inserted in an active disease site. In fact, most needles are inserted far away from the active disease site.

Please note that acupuncture needles are never inserted in an active disease site. In fact, most needles are inserted far away from the active disease site.

For example…

  • If a patient had 20 lymph-nodes removed in their left arm, a needle will not be inserted into their left arm
  • If a patient has lymphedema on the right lower leg (regardless of the number of lymph-nodes being involved), a needle will not be inserted into the swollen area
  • If a patient had radiation on the right side of their neck, no needle will be inserted in that area and in its immediate proximity
  • If a patient has metastases at the liver site, no needle will be inserted in that area
  • If a patient is experiencing acute pain on the lower back, no needle will be inserted in that area
  • Etc.

Maybe, it's a very subjective feeling.

Acupuncture needles are tiny, thin and flexible, about the size of a cat’s whisker. Once the needles are inserted, some patients may experience a mild tingling or a sensation of fullness, along with an increased sense of relaxation. These are all quite normal and suggest that the treatment is working. If you have needle phobia, needle-less approaches will be employed.

That depends on the person, severity of condition, and type of issue. Everyone’s treatment plan is unique and individually designed.

The initial phase of the treatment plan is usually between 1 to 10 visits. The length of treatment depends on how long the condition has been present and how quickly the patient responds to treatment. Generally, if a condition is more acute, patients respond faster than those with chronic issues. Some conditions can be treated in one session. Others require more time.

Once again, this is unique to the person, severity of condition, and type of issue. A different frequency will be proposed depending on each individual’s condition and objectives.

On average, patients come for acupuncture treatments once to three times a week. Your acupuncturist will discuss this further at the first visit.

You are likely to feel relaxed and calm. If the acupuncture treatment has been particularly strong you may feel tired or drowsy and it is worth bearing this in mind if you plan to drive or use any other machinery soon afterwards.

Sometimes, following a treatment, one could experience one or more of the following:

  • Tiredness
  • Euphoria
  • More relaxation
  • Slight headache
  • Temporary increase in pain
  • Minor bruising at the needle point or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms (as your qi clears and resettles)

Any side effects that do occur are mild and self-correcting. Most of the time patients feel relaxed and at ease leaving their acupuncture session.

Loose herbs are herbs in their natural, dried forms, cut in small pieces. To consume loose herbs, you will extract the herbs through a long boiling process for 30 to 60 minutes, then drink the strained liquid.

If herbs are deemed helpful for your concerns, they will be individuality selected for you by our TCM Practitioner and combined in a set of small bags according to his prescription. The amount of herbs may range from 50g to 200g per bag. A bag is usually worth for 1 to 4 days. It is highly recommended that you read your prescription, as all the information on how to boil and prepare your helps is written there.

Steps to prepare your loose herbs on the stove-top:

  1. Rinse the loose herbs under running water and put them into an earthenware or stainless steel pot. (Avoid cast-iron or aluminium pots.)
  2. Add enough water to the pot to cover the herbs by about 1.5 inches.
  3. Leave the herbs to soak until soft. (Please note that the herbs will expand and you may have to add more water to the pot in order to cover the herbs by about 1.5 inches).
  4. With a lid on, bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for the prescribed time written on your prescription (start the timer from the boiling point). Please note that the duration of the extraction has its importance. You may boil longer than the recommended time, but not shorter. Ensure the water is at a gentle, rolling boil during the extraction period.
  5. Once the time is over, strain the liquid when it’s still warm. Discard the solids. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Drink the liquid warm between meals, usually twice to three times a day. If it has cooled down, warm it back up or add in more hot water.

Powdered herbs are dried, loose herbs that have been ground into a powder.

If herbs are deemed helpful for your concerns, they will be individuality selected for you by our TCM Practitioner and combined in a set of small bags according to his prescription. The amount of herbs will vary dependent on the individual. A bag is usually worth for 1 to 4 days. It is highly recommended that you read your prescription, as all the information on how to boil and prepare your helps is written there.

Steps to prepare your powdered herbs in a mug:

  1. Shake the powdered herbs well before scooping out the powder. This ensures homogeneity of different ingredients.
  2. Put the suggested quantity of powdered-herbs (usually 10 to 20g) into a glass or stainless-steel insulated mug with a lid.
  3. Slowly add in about one to two cups of boiling water. As you add in the boiling water, stir to mix.
  4. Close the lid of the mug to leave the powder to infuse for the amount of time written on your prescription. Occasionally shake gently to mix. Please be careful when you shake or open the lid as the boiling water will build up pressure inside.
  5. Carefully open the mug’s lid as sometimes the steam/hot water may come out and you may get burnt. If it's not too hot, you may start drinking the liquid. If it's still too hot to drink, wait until the liquid has cooled down and drink it like a tea.
  6. Refill with boiling liquid as needed to get the most out of the powdered-herbs.

Drink the liquid warm between meals 2-3 times per day, according to what is written on your prescription. If it has cooled down, warm it back up or add in more hot water.

Granules are a concentrated powder obtained through a water extraction process that is then vacuum-dried. The concentration is usually 1 for 5, meaning that 1g of the granule is equivalent to 5g of loose herbs.

If herbs are deemed helpful for your concerns, they will be individuality selected for you by our TCM Practitioner and combined in a set of small bags according to his prescription. The amount of herbs will vary dependent on the individual. A bag is usually worth for 1 to 4 days. It is highly recommended that you read your prescription, as all the information on how to boil and prepare your helps is written there.

Steps to prepare your powdered herbs in a mug:

  1. Scoop out the prescribed amount into a cup or mug. The prescribed amount is usually expressed in grams or in standard teaspoons.
  2. Pour in enough warm water to cover the granules. Once the granule is fully dissolved, add in more warm water to dilute. Please note that the quantity of water is up to you. As an example, 6 teaspoons of granule may be mixed in about half of a cup of water. Less of water will give a stronger taste. More of water will give a more diluted taste.
  3. Stir to mix in the powdered granules.
  4. Drink in small amount throughout the day for the first two days to monitor potential allergy or sensitivity to the product. Always drink your herbs warm for the most beneficial effects. If the mixture has cooled down, warm it back up by adding hot water or microwave it.

If you experience no adverse reaction, you may drink the "tea" as instructed on your prescription, usually two to three times a day, between meals.

The amount of liquid can vary depending on your taste preferences, as the water is simply used as a means to extract your herbs. More water will give a diluted taste. Less water will give a stronger taste.

For the sake of a proper extraction, it is suggested that you use more liquid at first then adjust as you go. If you have too much of liquid at the end, put less at the next batch. You learn and adjust as you go.

Use 3 cups of liquid per day to cook your herbs. If you are making 4 days’ worth of herbs, the calculation is: 3 cups x 4 days = 12 cups. At the end of the cooking, strain and discard the herbs, keep the liquid. You should get about 8 cups of liquid. Divide it by 4 (days), it will yield about 2 cups a day.

It is also recommended that you use a larger pot rather a small one.  The water along with the herbs should take up half the height of your pot. This way you are able to ensure that the liquid will never overflow and that you don't have to clean the mess after.

You sure can!

Cooking your herbs is similar to cooking your soup. You have to keep it fresh either on the counter or in a fridge. Remember to shake to mix and warm it back up before drinking it.

Like food, ensure you don’t have allergic reaction to the herbs in your drink. For this, you will be drinking the liquid in small amounts throughout the day, for the first 1-2 days. This will occur whenever you start a new set of herbs.

If no sensitivities have developed, you may take the warm liquid twice to three times daily between meals, meaning not on an empty or a too full stomach. Drink warm for better absorption and to maximize the benefits of the herbal drink.

Do NOT add anything to change the flavour, such as a sweetener like sugar, honey, or maple syrup. By adding flavour to your drink, you may alter its property. If taste is an issue to you, use a straw to send the liquid down the throat with minimal contact to the taste buds. You can also rinse the mouth after the drink.

When in doubt, contact the CHI with any questions.