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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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. 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 from
conventional medicine, but not at all any pain or worse effect
from alternative medicine.
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. 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.
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.
 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.
 Chinese medicine has its own way
to reduce blood cholesterol.
 Such as chemotherapy, or radiation
 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.
 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.