Welcome to Millwoods Acupuncture Centre

Millwoods Acupuncture Center
102, 2603 Hewes Way
Edmonton AB,   Canada

Phone: (780) 466-8683



Why TCM does not work for you?


After treatment with a TCM therapy for some times, such as acupuncture or herbal therapy, some people do not feel any clear improvement in health problems.

Why it does not work?

There could be several major reasons for it.

Commonly we may question that it is the inability of the doctor to help the patients. This is true since the doctor normally plays the major role in the treatment and responsible to the healing results. 

However, it should be pointed out that there could be some other reasons from the patient’s  part too, that is beyond the control of the doctor. This is specifically true and important for patients in the western world. The patients do not realize how to work together with the TCM doctor since they do not know that they should and can do something too to make the healing process more effective. Something that is not at all a problem in patients in China could be a new problem for patients in the western world, due to the difference in the culture or in the concept regarding how to keep health.

(1) Physical activity

The fist reason: patient keeps the same, even more physical exercise even if they have pain or arthritis. It makes their pain in the muscle and joints worse or not to stop.

If it is you, you should reduce the amount of physical exercise. Especially, if you have lower back pain, you should even reduce the amount of sex activity. You should not rely on the exercise to improve your pain. You have to listen to your TCM doctor when to start physical exercise. Similarly, you should not paint your room for a long time with your arms lift high.

Of course we also need patients to have exercise but we recommend it if the pain is gone and we need more functional recovery from the extremes of the body. Especially if you have pain with swelling on the joints, you should keep still for the joints. We need some other means to reduce the pain and swelling, but not the exercise. For some people, their pain can be released after movement. To us, it means that there is Wetness (with or without Cold) in the joints. Little movement improves more Blood and Qi moves into the joint to remove the pain, but it almost always a temporary phenomenon.

(2) Cold environment

You should not use ice patch, or exposure your body, part or whole, in a cold place. For example, you should not stay in an air-conditioned room/car for a long time. You should not swim in a cold water pool (swimming pool or river) for a long time. You should not wash something with cold water for a long time either. If you have pain in muscle or joint, to exposure to cold will make things worse. According to TCM, when we are weak, Cold (we call it Han Qi), will penetrate into our body to block the bio-energy flow in the body to cause pain. Pain is regarded the result of the block of bio-energy by Cold, Fire, Wetness, Dryness, Phlegm, Stagnated blood, etc. (Chinese Medicine does not talk bacteria or virus but uses the terms in nature. The term of Micro-items such as bacteria, virus, or fungus, can not summarize the invaders from outside).

This is more important for those whose body constitution is originally Cold and the current health problem is due to the Cold in the body.

In some place in North America, such as in Edmonton area, people like to ski in winter, or some women like to wear only short skirt in winter in wind. When one is young, no problem. They do not feel anything wrong. However, when they become old, they will feel pain here and there without knowing why. Another typical example for such clinic situation is shoulder pain in some old women. Their pain is so terrible that you cannot even touch it at all. If we ask if they washed stuff in cold water or in winter when they were young, they say yes. They did it years and years when they were young. Their pain usually occurs in the hollow place of the body, such as the arm pitch, or the back of the knee.


(3) Over eating

It is very important that you eat only about 80% to 90% amount of your diet, even if you feel ok after TCM treatment. After recovery for an acute pain, your body still needs some time to get a complete recovery, since it has spend some bio-energy during the treatment to solve the health problem. If you eat too much, say, after a celebration party, you may have a risk that your health problem comes back again. In this case, people usually feel very tired and even little bit fever beside bloating and burping in the upper stomach. If you drink lots of beer or other alcohol-containing beverage, it is worse. Since after “evaporation” of the alcohol, the Wetness from the alcohol left in the body. You will feel heavy in your head and tired to move. If the original health problem is due to the accumulation of Wetness, the drinking of alcohol makes the problem worse. For women, it shows as more discharge than ever.

(4) Over sex activity

This is the most omitted thing for people who grow up in the western world. Over sex activity damages the Kidney system. According to TCM, the Kidney system includes the function of urinary system (kidney and urine bladder), reproductive system, sex system, bone (including teeth), hair, hearing and brain function (memory). Over sex exhausts the libido of the Kidney system, so that all of the functions of the above systems might be affected soon or later. ( I question the high dementia incidence rate in the western world might be related to the over sex activity). On the body, the lower back is the “room” for the Kidney system so that over sex should be extremely restricted if one has lower back pain. If you do not believe, try it, see if you feel more weak in the lower back, if your original pain is in the lower back part of the body. For the same reason, if the original health problem is too frequent night urine, loss of hair, damaged hearing ability, osteoporosis, low desire for sex, inability of erection, weakness of teeth, poor memory, over sex activity should be considered to reduce.

(5) Traveling

Influence of traveling to the progress of your healing is not only that traveling makes you tired after long time driving or sit long time on the airplane. Additional factor is that the environment in your destination place might be quite different from your home city. For instant, the weather in Edmonton, Canada, is typically dry and cool, while it is hot, humidity and wind in Vancouver, Canada (only 11 hours drying distance). In TCM such change is very dramatic for an illness: you move from a “fall” in the Edmonton city to a “summer” city of Vancouver. For patient with Hot-wetness syndrome, their symptoms, such as joint pain, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, fever, heavy feeling in part or whole body, etc., might be worse. It is quite a common phenomenon that symptoms become better or worse after patient moves to a different place for some days, though our conventional medicine never know why. A TCM doctor should know this, since such change allows him to understand the body condition of a patient more in detail. It is useful to allow the doctor make correct diagnosis and decide correct treatment plan.

Many of my patients belong to “Cold” condition, that we call it Yang Xu Yin Shen. They tend to have cold feet and hand, with long time chronic fatigue, diarrhea or constipation. When stay in warm place for some days, they are much better.[1]

(6) Trust to doctor

Treatment of a health problem is a mutual work by both doctor and patient. This relationship is much emphasized by alternative medical system, but not so in the conventional medicine, in which patient only need to follow whatever a doctor asks him to take. It is advised that if a patient does not believe the TCM, or even refuses it, it is better not come to a TCM doctor. This does not mean that the TCM therapies will not work at all in this case, but the full effect of TCM is hardly obtained.

You may heard the phase of “placebo” effect in the medical area. If we have two groups of patients with same kind of disease, in group A, we give them a kind of drug that is proven to work for this diseases but in group B, we give patients only starch, but the starch is given in the exactly the same kind of pill in size and color. We tell the patients that they all are taking the same thing. What we usually find is that even in the group B, some patients still show a dramatic improvement in their symptoms though what they taken is only starch!

Believing is a healing power.

If you believe God, mysterious thing might happen to you – people in the religion know this well. For the same reason, old and good reputation TCM doctor (or conventional medicine doctor) has better healing result than a young doctor, though they give exactly the same herbs to the same patient! When people like something, they tend to notice any good feeling after taken it, but omit or even deny any worse feeling to the taking of it.

If people do not accept a therapy, they tend to pay attention to any not good feelings after taken the therapy (or after acupuncture). The bad feeling will be exaggerated in their heart so that the original symptoms might feel worse. They tend to link the worse of the symptom to the taken of the therapy. This is a common phenomenon.

In clinic, there are some patients who come to us and only want to try acupuncture but want to keep nearly ten kinds of drugs that they got from conventional medicine. To us, most of the drugs are not needed at all but patients just want to keep it and believe they really needed it. In this case, we are hesitated to start a treatment for them since those patients are usually very sensitive to pain or other not good feelings they feel during the treatment. Clinic results in these patients are usually poor.

One of the clear examples for this case is some patients, who take cholesterol-reducing drugs, such as Lipitol, and have pain in muscle and joints[2]. They want acupuncture to solve this problem but want to keep the drug. You see, how difficult it is for us to remove the side effects of the drug when you are continuing it?

Many times, some people trust too much to the conventional medicine and do not trust the alternative medicine, though they did try the alternative medicine. For example, people are taking some pain killers, such as Advil, but the pain killer does not work. This is the reason for them to come to us. After acupuncture or herbal therapy, they feel less pain even not pain at all. However, they deny the result is due to the work of acupuncture or herbal therapy and they say that “it might be due to the combination of the drug and acupuncture”. If we ask them to stop the Advil, they may never come back again. Some patients just contribute any positive healing effect to conventional medicine. They can tolerate even severe or life threatening side effects[3] from conventional medicine, but not at all any pain or worse effect from alternative medicine[4].


(7) Position shift

Follow whatever treatment program your TCM doctor recommends to you. If he tells that you should have acupuncture at least once every two days, try to follow it. If he asks you to take herb remedy three times a day, you should not take it once today and twice tomorrow with the excuse that you are too busy. He is your doctor not you yourself. Before your health condition completely returns to normal, acupuncture effect, in most cases, may last about 8 hours. The effect of the herbal therapy varies very much. In very severe condition, we may let patient take the herb once very hour, though routinely it is needed three times a day. For some herbs you need to take it before meal and others may need to take it after meal. Some times, even a restriction of salt could be a very important tip for the treatment[5]. Do not think that it is a minor requirement. Your doctor may have to time to explain to you how it is important it is to you.

This situation more happens in those who are a doctor too. They tend to listen whatever recommendation they believe but not whatever they do not believe. There is a common saying in our medical area: doctor cannot treat a doctor.

 So be ware of these factors that might affect your healing. Work with your doctor is to work for yourself. Our TCM regards patient a positive partner in the treatment, not a passive one.  

[1] This does not mean that the warm and humidity place is perfect to our health. Each people is different. The environment should match our body constipation. I know many of our Chinese students. They have terrible stomach pain in China, but it stop completely after come to European.

[2] Chinese medicine has its own way to reduce blood cholesterol.

[3] Such as chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

[4] Sometimes, there could be a healing crisis after first or second acupuncture treatment. Some people quit from the treatment just because that they misunderstand that acupuncture makes their symptoms worse.

[5] For bite by snake, if the wound becomes open with terrible smell, restrict of salt is critical towards healing. Without this restriction, regular herbal therapy may work to close the open wound, but the problem is easy to recur later.