The centre provides Chinese herbal therapy, Acupuncture,
Tui Na (acupressure), Moxibustion, Cupping, Qi Gong, Shi Liao (Food therapy).
The office hours are Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Evenings, Sundays and statutory holidays are available only through advanced
appointments. We accept MSP, WCB, ICBC, DVA and extended medical claims. Please bring your claim
number and your family doctor's referral (if your insurance policy requires)
with you when you visit us. Cancellations are required 24 hours in advance. Please make an appointment through telephone (604) 466-9938 or through e-mail ().
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system that takes a
deep understanding of the laws and patterns of nature and applies them to the
human body. TCM is not "New Age," nor is it a patchwork of different healing
modalities. TCM is a complete medical system that has been practiced for more
than five thousand years.
At the heart of TCM is the tenet that the root cause of illnesses, not their
symptoms, must be treated. In modern-day terms, TCM is holistic in its approach;
it views every aspect of a personbody, mind, spirit, and emotionsas part of
one complete circle rather than loosely connected pieces to be treated
The following is a brief introduction to some of the key terms and concepts
in traditional Chinese medicine.
TCM Treatment Modalities
Often Western CAM practitioners and their patients or clients derive their
understanding of TCM from acupuncture. However, acupuncture is only one of the
major treatment modalities of this comprehensive medical system based on the
understanding of Qi or vital energy. These major treatment modalities of TCM
- :Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy involving the
placement of cups on the skin with a vacuum to draw impure energy.
The true foundation of TCM is Qi, which is loosely translated as vital
energy. In TCM, Qi is considered to be the force that animates and informs all
things. In the human body, Qi flows through meridians, or energy pathways.
Twelve major meridians run through the body, and it is over this network that Qi
travels through the body and that the body's various organs send messages to one
another. For this reason, keeping the meridians clear is imperative for the
body's self-regulating actions to occur. Through proper training, people can
develop the sensitivity to feel the flow of Qi.
While it is often described in the West as energy, or vital energy, the term
Qi carries a deeper meaning. Qi has two aspects: one is energy, power, or force;
the other is conscious intelligence or information. Each Organ System carries
its own unique Qi, which allows it to perform its unique functionsboth physical
(which Western medicine can describe) and energetic (which Eastern medicine can
identify). This energetic function also includes an Organ System's relationship
with other Organs. (Organ is here capitalized to distinguish the TCM concept of
an Organ System and its functions from the Western concept of the physical
TCM frequently references several major Qi, or energy function, problems. One
is an overall "Qi deficiency," which is often described in Western medical terms
as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). TCM also has the knowledge and ability to
pinpoint which Organs have an energy deficiency. Another major condition is
described as "Qi stagnation," which means energy and information cannot move
smoothly to or from its appropriate location. For example, TCM considers pain,
headache and stomachache the result of Qi stagnation.
In TCM theory, blood and Qi are inseparable. Blood is the "mother" of Qi; it
carries Qi and also provides nutrients for its movement. In turn, Qi is the
"commander" of the blood. This means that Qi is the force that makes blood flow
throughout the body and provides the intelligence that guides it to the places
where it needs to be. Blood and Qi also affect one another and have the dynamic
ability to transfer various properties back and forth. For example, after labor
and delivery, a woman may develop a fever. TCM understands this fever to be
related to blood loss, not normally an infection. Losing too much blood causes
an overall Qi deficiency. When there is a Qi deficiency, the body cannot
function properly and therefore presents with a fever.
TCM believes that the human body is a microcosm of the Universal macrocosm.
Therefore, humans must follow the laws of the Universe to achieve harmony and
total health. The Yin/Yang and Five-Element theories are actually observations
and descriptions of Universal law, not concepts created by man. In ancient
times, practitioners of TCM discovered these complex sets of interrelationships
that exist on deep energetic levels below the material surface. Over time, these
insights developed into a unified body of wisdom and knowledgeTCM theoriesand
were applied to a way of life and to healing the human body. Even today TCM
practitioners use these essential theories to understand, diagnose and treat
The Five-Element Theory is the bedrock of TCM. It evolved as a way of naming
and systematizing patterns of perceived related phenomena, ranging from
something as tangible as the weather to more rarified realms such as emotion and
capacities of character, into five major groups named for the universal
elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The Five-Element Theory states
that the five major Organ Systems (Liver/Gallbladder, Heart/Small Intestine,
Spleen/Stomach, Lung/Large Intestine, and Kidney/Urinary Bladder) are each
related to a particular element and therefore to a broad category of
correspondences or classifications: from a season of the year to a time of day,
to particular colors and foods, etc. Both the Yin/Yang Theory and the
Five-Element Theory reflect the entire Universal law in one complete,
comprehensive system of related categories.
TCM does not consider the Five Elements themselves to be inert substances.
They are fundamental energies alive in nature and always in motion. The
Five-Element Theory encompasses two dynamic relationshipsgeneration and
controlthat explain how the five major Organ Systems are interconnected. Each
element generates, or gives energy to, another. These element pairs are known as
mother and child. Each element also restrains or controls another. The proper
amount of control keeps all the elements in proportion. With control, one Organ
System acts as a feedback loop for its opposite pair as well as its partner
Organ to keep them functioning smoothly: neither excessively nor deficiently,
neither too strongly nor too weakly. These dynamic interactions enable all the
Organ Systems to work in one harmonious, greater system. If their relationships
are good, a state of wellness prevails; if any of the relationships become
unbalanced, health problems result.
The Five-Element Theory gives a skilled TCM practitioner a range of options
for addressing health problems. For instance, when a patient presents with skin
problems, the TCM practitioner understands that the Organ System of the Lung and
Large Intestine are involved because the skin is the "tissue" of the Lung,
according to the Five Elements. Therefore, he or she can decide to heal one or
both Organs to treat the root cause, not just the symptom of the skin problem.
Meridians, or channels, are invisible pathways through which Qi flows that
form an energy network that connects all parts of the body, and the body to the
universe. TCM understands that our body has twelve major meridians. Each one is
related to a specific Organ System. The meridian network links meridians with
each other and connects all body structuresskin, tendons, bone, internal
organs, cells, atoms. TCM also understands that meridians connect the interior
with exterior and the upper body with the lower body. This interlinked,
animating network through which Qi flows freely makes the body an organic whole.
The meridian network is like a system of highways, roads and streets that
links major cities. The highways (meridians) and the cities (organs) make up an
entire energy map (the body). It is through this system of roadways that energy
(Qi) runs. For example, if a city's internal streets are blocked with traffic,
eventually this situation will cause a problem with the highways leading into
this city. If the traffic condition worsens, even the cities linked by the major
highways will experience a problem. Or, two cities may be fine and traffic may
be flowing smoothly within their areas. Yet, if there is an accident and traffic
builds up on one of the roads linking the cities, eventually one or both of
these cities will find themselves affected by traffic congestion. This analogy
offers a way to understand how blockages in meridians can cause problems in
Meridians form a powerful information system within which each Organ also
forms its own data system. In addition to transmitting Qi, meridians also
transmit actual information to and among the Organ Systems. It is through the
meridians and the flow of Qi that the various parts of the body communicate with
each other faster than the speed of light. Interestingly, meridians are also
sensitive to time and place. They reflect and respond to the changing energy of
the seasons, the time of day and the climate of a particular place. TCM
understands that when the meridian system functions well, the body (including
its mind, spirit and emotions) is healthy and maintains homeostasis, a dynamic
condition of internal harmony where yin and yang energies operate seamlessly.
The ancient medical text Nei Jing states: "The function of the channel
(meridian) is to transport the Qi and blood and circulate yin and yang to
nourish the body." Because meridians respond to and carry stimulation as well as
transmit information, they have the ability to bring healing energy to local, as
well as distant, parts of the body. This can create physiological and other
changes as Qi circulates. It is this function that makes acupuncture and
acupressure work: at specific points along the meridian, the flow of Qi can be
enhanced or modified either with needles or with the pressure of the finger or
the hands. The energy practice of Qigong, with its postures and movements, also
affects the flow of Qi.
The energy pathways and the Organ Systems they link provide TCM with a
framework for identifying the root cause of health problems and the diagnoses to
heal them. Meridians work by regulating the energy functions of the body and
keeping it in harmony. If a dysfunction occurs, acupuncture or other therapy can
stimulate the relevant meridian(s) to help bring an affected Organ back into
balance. If Qi stagnates for too long in any meridian, it can become blocked and
eventually turn into matter, setting the stage for conditions that can create a
physical mass. Dysfunctional meridians can also become susceptible to external
pathogenic factors that can migrate to Organs along the route of the affected
TCM Meridian Theory states: "As long as Qi flows freely through the meridians
and the Organs work in harmony, the body can avoid disease."
TCM understands that everything is composed of two complementary energies;
one energy is yin and the other is yang. They are never separate; one cannot
exist without the other. This is the yin/yang principle of interconnectedness
and interdependence; it is not oppositional. The intertwined relationship is
reflected in the classic black and white yin/yang symbol. No matter how you
might try to divide this circle in half, the two sections will always contain
both energies. The energies themselves are indivisible. From the TCM
perspective, this is Universal law at its simplest and deepest.
The Theory of Yin and Yang contains no absolutes. The designation of
something as yin or yang is always relative to, or in comparison with, some
other thing. For example, the sun and daytime are considered to be yang in
relation to the moon and the night, which are yin. However, early morning is
yang in comparison to late afternoon, which is more yin. According to the Theory
of Yin and Yang, male is yang; female is yin. Everything in the body is also
under the control of the binary system of yin and yang. Because yin and yang
have an inseparable relationship, if there is a problem with one, the other will
definitely be affected.
Ideally, yin and yang should always remain in harmony, not just in balance.
Understanding harmony is an important aspect of understanding TCM. Often, in
Western understanding of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), the term
"balance" is described as the desired state, however, in TCM, "harmony" is the
ultimate goal. Although the words "balance" and "harmony" are sometimes used
interchangeably, in TCM theory they are quite different: balance is merely the
first step toward harmony. Two things can be balanced; they can be of equal
proportion or have equal weight, and yet still be separate. Balance has to do
with the relationship between two separate entities: for instance, the
relationship between the Heart and Kidney. First, a relationship must be in
balance; the next step is to achieve harmony. When two things are in harmony,
their energies are not just equally proportioned but blended together into a
seamless whole. When two elements exist in harmony, there is an ongoing,
unconscious dance between them that happens naturally. When one predominates,
the other recedes; this is homeostasisinternal harmony that is a dynamic
condition. In a healthy system, harmony happens naturallywithin the body
itself, and between the body and external forces of Nature and the Universe. So,
when nature's Qi undergoes change as it does seasonally, a person's internal Qi
will respond automatically. If, for any reason, it can't make a smooth
transition to the energy of the next season, TCM understands that illness will
In Western medicine, this lack of harmony can be seen in patients with hot
flashes. Those who suffer from this condition during the day have a yang Qi or
energy deficiency; those who suffer nightly hot flashes are experiencing a yin
Qi deficiency. If a woman experiences hot flashes at both times, then both
energies are deficient and must be strengthened.