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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Regulation of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine in Ontario

Started back in 2006, the regulation of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Ontario has finally been enforced on Apr. 2013. Now practitioners of Chinese medicine and acupuncturists in Ontario are regulated professions such like ordinary doctors and other health care professionals, and Ontario is the 4th province in Canada that has acupuncture and/or traditional Chinese medicine legitimated after British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO), which was created in 2006, is the only organization in administration. Health care providers who wish to perform acupuncture, prescribe Chinese medicine or herbal remedies must register with CTCMPAO after passing a series of exams and display that they have treated at least 2,000 patients in the last five years.

There are two titles/designations from CTCMPAO corresponding to two capacities in Chinese medicine and acupuncture respectively, i.e., registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioners (R.TCMP) and registered acupuncturist (R.Ac). R.TCMPs are authorized to practice traditional Chinese medicine providing to patients a combination of therapies including TCM herbal medicine and acupuncture within the scope of traditional Chinese medicine practice; they are also entitled to use the title R.Ac. R.Acs are authorized to practice traditional Chinese medicine using acupuncture, including tuina, cupping and moxibustion etc., excluding TCM herbal medicine. 

Although such credentials does not ensure the highest competency, they do indicate that the practitioner has met the minimum standards to treat patients using acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Other factors that should be taken in to consideration in choosing a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and/or an acupuncturist are education, experience, practice style, cost, etc. 

Written by Cathy (Huijuan) Ding, M.Sc., R.Ac., R.TCMP, C.M.D., Apr. 23, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

On student health insurance policy towards acupuncture and massage treatments in Kitchener-Waterloo area

Many post-secondary school students in Kitchener Waterloo area inquired if their extended health plans cover the costs (or part of the cost) for an acupuncturist or not. The answer is "yes" for students from Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and Conestoga College, but "no" for the University of Waterloo (UW) students unfortunately. The claim policy for a registered acupuncturist varies for different plans as shown below (and that of a registered massage therapist is also listed for your reference). Please “Like” or "+1" this page, so that you can easily find the relative information (including other related info about your health and dental plan) through the corresponding links below for claim purposes in the future. Note that on top of the insurance coverage (if applicable), we (Sunshine Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Kitchener Waterloo Clinic) also take a 10% off treatment fees when you present your student cards at our clinic. 

UW Health & Dental Plan: 

1. Undergraduates: 

Registered Acupuncturist - None.

Registered Massage Therapist (doctor’s referral required) - 80% of each visit and up to $400 per policy year.

2. Graduates:

Registered Acupuncturist - None.

Registered Massage Therapist (doctor’s referral required) - 80% of each visit and up to $400 per policy year.

WLU Health & Dental Plan:

1. Undergraduates: 

Registered Acupuncturist - 80% of each visit and up to $500 per policy year.

Registered Massage Therapist (doctor’s referral required) - Maximum of $30 per visit and up to $500 per policy year.

More info about how to claim -

2. Graduates:

Registered Acupuncturist - Maximum of $25 per visit and up to $500 per policy year.

Registered Massage Therapist (doctor’s referral required) - Maximum of $25 per visit and up to $500 per policy year.

Conestoga College Benefit Plan:

Registered Acupuncturist - 80% to a maximum of $500 per policy year.

Registered Massage Therapist (doctor’s referral required) - 80% to a maximum of $500 per policy year.

More info about how to claim - 

Written by Cathy Ding, M.Sc., Ac., CMD, Nov. 1, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Acupuncture and NBA

People seldom link acupuncture and NBA together. The fact is many NBA players have used acupuncture therapy in the recent decades for injury prevention, treatment and pain relief, including some big names such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, Ming Yao, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Kevin Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse, etc.

As funny as it is, some of these big guys are used to fierce physical conflicts but they were afraid of needles, at least at the first place. Back in the early '90s, when Charles Barkley was with the Phoenix Suns, he developed a sore neck that wouldn't let him turn his head. He turned to a local acupuncturist named Cao who successfully terminated the pain for the former MVP. "Charles, the big man with all of the big talk, was shy of the needles when he came in," as Cao recalled. "But when I put them in and he didn't feel them and he could play the game the next day, he was convinced." Another example is Dwyane Wade. The former NBA Finals MVP claimed he is scared of needles too at the beginning. Bothered by knee tendinitis, the Miami Heats all-star guard utilized acupuncture therapy in 2007 to help relieve the pain. "You just try to find a way to feel a little better," Wade said, “Right now I'm doing that and I feel a little better."

The needles for acupuncture normally are only two inches long and tiny thin. So they are barely noticeable and are not painful at all generally. Based on traditional Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture strengthens body function by encouraging circulation and restores internal harmony and balance. Not just NBA players, professional and amateur athletes from all over the world use acupuncture to manage and prevent injuries, alleviate pain, decrease swelling, spasms and inflammation, and regulate nervous system.

Relative studies conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization as well as many research bodies worldwide have consistently shown that acupuncture is a safe and effective way to deal with pain and treat sports injuries, as well as supporting general wellness. More surprisingly, studies have shown that acupuncture has measurable effects on the flow of blood to certain body areas, which could in consequently boost athletic performance. One such study conducted at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (the university the author graduated from) involved some professional athletes running 5,000 meters, and then they are treated with acupuncture before they had a chance to catch their breath. The heart rates of the involved athletes who received the acupuncture treatments recovered more quickly than those in the control group. This might be the main reason why the Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, uses acupuncture three times on a weekly basis, which potentially allows him to jump higher, run faster and recover quicker.

Written by Cathy Ding, M.Sc., Ac., C.M.D., Oct. 23, 2012.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Acupuncture won medals for athletes in London 2012 Olympics

As the world watches the Summer 2012 Olympics with bated breath, Chinese medicine has stepped into the spotlight. Many professional athletes employ an acupuncturist to keep in top shape or combat with sports injuries. In return,  acupuncture helps them win Olympics medals and gains honours to their countries.

The USA men’s archery won silver at the 2012 Olympics and has regular acupuncture as part of their training and fitness protocol. McKavla Maroney, the world vault champion has been using acupuncture for her toe injury. Other olympians such as Jeremy Scott, a pole vaulter and track, Kim Yeon-koung, a women's volleyball player, and field star Dee Dee Trotter also have used acupuncture for sports injuries and as such have been able to go to London to compete in the 2012 Olympics. 

In fact, it is no secret that athletes from Canada have been using acupuncture for some years. Back in 1998, Canadian speed skater Kevin Overland was in a panic in Nagano, Japan, due to an injured hip. The Winter Olympics were just a month away, and his physical therapist continually told it wasn’t possible for him to make it in time. Overland was recommended to try acupuncture by his friend and reacted really well to it. Finally he won a bronze medal.

Written by Cathy Ding, M.Sc., Ac., C.M.D., Aug. 14, 2012.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Facial Gua Sha massage therapy – a new, effective and safe medical cosmetology

Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) massage therapy using a jade board scrape on the body to promote blood circulation and remove toxic heat, blood and lymph. From TCM point of view, our body needs a constant and vigorous movement of energy (”Qi”) to keep us healthy and alive. But if there is a presence of toxins, “Sha” will be formed and caused congestion in the circulation. In Chinese, “Gua” means scrape or rub over the skin, and “Gua Sha” means toxins are being brought to the surface by the rubbing (thus it restores and rebalances “Qi” circulation in the body). If Gua Sha is performed on the body, as an aftermath, blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue will be raised and brought out by Gua Sha massage shown as petechiae, which shall fade away in 2-5 days. Note that the petechiae is actually the “Sha” that causes the health issues.

Gua Sha massage is simple, scientific, effective and safe, as it has no side effects. It has been practiced for more than 25 centuries by Chinese people and is a precious heritage of TCM. Traditionally, Gua Sha massage can be performed when a patient has pain due to an acute or chronic disorder, or a knotty feeling in the muscles. However, nowadays, since more and more people are seeking effective and safe ways to make them look better and stay younger, facial Gua Sha massage is systematically developed and getting popular in China recently for medical cosmetology. This holistic beauty therapy can balance, restore and rejuvenate the skin condition without leaving any signs of petechiae, and without uses of chemical acids, microdermabrasion, Botox drug injection or painful cosmetic surgery. It not only promotes blood and “Qi” circulation but also accelerates skin cell regeneration, improves skin absorption, and prevents aging. The following effects will be seen immedicately after the facial Gua Sha therapy:
(1) reduced dark circles/eye bags/puffiness;
(2) reduced fine lines/wrinkles;
(3) improved uneven tone;
(4) smoother and radiant skin;
(5) smaller pores;
(6) lightened freakles/dark spots;
(7) lifted and firmer skin;
(8) reduced double chin/refined face shape.
Immediate effects after a single facial Gua Sha massage therapy - Gua Sha was done on half of the face only (left side from your views).
Immediate effects after a single facial Gua Sha massage therapy - Gua Sha was done on half of the face only (left side from your views).
As examples of the immediate effects after a facial Gua Sha treatment (done on the left hand side of the face only) shown in above photos, dramatical differences can be easily detected. In the first picture, the following effects are noticable in the most to least detectable order: (1) reduced dark circles; (2) smoother and radiant skin; (3) improved uneven tone; (4) lifted and firmer skin; (5) smaller pores, and those for the second one are: (1) reduced eye bags/puffiness; (2) reduced pimples; (3) lifted and firmer skin; (4) refined face shape. (5) improved uneven tone; (6) smaller pores. 

The positive effects of facial Gua Sha are astonishing, and the principle behind this naturopathic healing therapy is still the basic TCM theory. Essentially, the facial Gua Sha treatment addresses underlying causes, like digestive problems, emotional stress, hormonal imbalance, which become reflected in the face through puffiness, dark circles around the eyes, dryness or dullness of the skin, sagging skin, drooping eyelids, blemishes, acne, fine and deep wrinkles, pigmentations.
Facial Gua Sha is performed by applying gentle scraping with some unique shaped jade boards and natural oil and cream on specific points, so that it is guaranteed that it is not painful and there is no petechiae or any red spots left on the face.

Written by Cathy Ding, M.Sc., Ac., C.M.D., June 15, 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Traditional Chinese Medicine – a better solution for weight loss

During the recent decades obesity has become an increasing area of concern in Canada. Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and a variety of other ailments such as joint problems. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002, obesity itself is recognized as a disease.

Basically, obesity occurs when a person takes in more calories than he/she burns. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this intangible energy imbalance within the body is the root of overweight, which is in fact caused by malfunctioning of the spleen and liver organ systems. In five-element (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) theory, the spleen is responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system, ensuring that the food we eat is transformed into Qi — the vital substance of life. Disharmony of the spleen leads to symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool, and feeling of heaviness, etc. At the meantime, the liver’s job is to keep the flow of the body’s Qi and blood (as well as emotions) running smoothly. The modern fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn, can cause the spleen and the whole digestive system to function poorly and decrease the metabolism. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers” that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.

TCM regulates the body’s Qi flow and corrects the imbalance that causes overweight. From a TCM perspective, the acupuncture points, foods and herbs that are chosen to assist with weight loss directly influence the Qi of the spleen and liver to rectify the imbalance. By limiting appetite and nervous overeating, acupuncture provides valuable assistance in the struggle to regain conscientious eating habits.  Once an individual has achieved control of these habits, proper weight is usually maintained with little effort or external support. Acupuncture is very effective clinically for excess weight due to over-eating and slow metabolism, and in most cases it has immediate effectiveness. Based on the writer’s experience, the maximum weight loss after a single acupuncture therapy is 2.5 pounds! A more comprehensive therapy includes both acupuncture and herbal medicine. More effectively, it intends to decreases cravings and over-eating, promotes better digestion, soothes emotions, reduces appetite, and improves metabolism.

A growing body of research supports the use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in treating weight loss. A 2003 study published in The Journal of Medical Acupuncture found that participants receiving acupuncture lost more than three times more weight than the control group. Another study published on May 2012 edition of Obesity Reviews states that, not like the anti-obesity medication that produce some side effects, weight loss can be obtained without any side effects using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The researchers of this study employ some conventional parameters in obesity research to verify its outcomes, which include changes in body weight, changes in body mass index (BMI), changes in waist and hip circumference, and changes in body fat percentage. Based on solid evidence, they also confirmed that the relapse of weight gain was more common in the control groups than in the acupuncture therapy or Chinese medicine groups. As mentioned above, TCM is a system of treatment that aims to restore the body back to health and treat any underlying causes of imbalance that may be causing the weight problem in the first place. This is why this study has shown that the weight loss from acupuncture and oriental medicine to be of benefit for the longer term.

Written by Cathy Ding, M.Sc., Ac., C.M.D., May 7, 2012.