Welcome to Millwoods Acupuncture Centre

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

Phone: (780) 466-8683



 Will more doctor solve the healthcare crisis?


Dr. Martin Wang, MD (China), Ph.D. (Sweden)

R. Acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist


People in Alberta have being talking about healthcare crisis for a long time. They complain the long time waiting time to see a doctor. They complain that they have to have various lab tests, CT, or MRI, again and again. They feel disappointed after see a “specialist” without any useful solution to their health problems….

A hot discussion is also going on (up to June, 2008), for why there is no enough number of doctor in the province. People question the medical education authority if the medical education should be expanded to meet the need for the number of doctors, if the standard for license to doctor practice is too high, and if more Canadian doctor has moved to USA or other countries for higher salary, so and so on.

Will more doctors really solve the healthcare crisis?

An ideal healthcare system should be, as most of us wish, that doctor solves our health problem after we visit him once, twice or three times, no matter what therapy he used, drugs, or surgery. In practice, this is not always realistic or true.

Conventional medicine depends heavily on various lab tests and physical exam (X-ray, CT, MRI, etc.) for diagnosis. So often, the vigorous exams appear useful for a doctor make “their” diagnosis, but no use for him to solve the problem (see below). Health problem is still there.

Before establishing the diagnosis, doctor cannot do almost anything except a symptomatic therapy, such as using painkillers, fever reducing drugs, sleeping pills, etc. Even if a cortisone injection is used, it only works for several months. Health problem is still there after the months and months of such symptomatic treatments. It is very dangerous that a treatment depends on a clear diagnosis, when a large scale epidemiologic disease occurs, such as during the SARS, in which the spread of the disease is very fast, and the death rate is extremely high, but the doctor still cannot start effective treatment before knowing the exact reason for the SARS.

If the doctor is lucky to find the reason for the disease, he may not be lucky to have proper medication to solve it.

If the disease is diagnosed as bacteria related, its treatment still depends on if there is effective drugs available. If the illness is bacteria related, the doctors give us antibiotics. It is found that some drugs that work before, not now, such as the drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis. The occurrence of drug-resistance bacteria has become a very big problem for the conventional medicine (one of the doctor created health problems). If the antibiotics does not work, they start to use cortisone like hormones (it is dangerous too for many reasons).

If the disease is virus-related, they almost cannot do any radical treatment – no effective drug for virus exit yet so far – from hepatitis to AIDS. The treatment of virus diseases is still a heavy challenge to the conventional medical doctors.

If the illness is no-bacteria related inflammation (we call is non-specific inflammation), such as rhomatoid arthritis, heart disease, they use aspirin-like drugs. It may work well when the disease is in early and acute stage, but not so good if it is in chronic stage. Such drugs usually do not really solve the problem (this is true for any disease that belongs to the disorder of our immune system) and they also cause lots of side effects (another kind of doctor-created health problem). A final replace surgery (if they can perform the surgery – such as a knee replacement) is quite commonly recommended because the failure of the non-surgical treatment.

If the disease is hormone deficiency, say, a hypothyroidism, type I diabetes, for instance, they use hormone replacement therapy. We may feel “normal” after the treatment, but in most cases, we have to take the hormone for ever. We become permanent client to a doctor.

If it is because the hormone production is too much in the body, such as a hyperthyroidism, a surgical treatment is highly recommended. If a proper amount of the hormone producing organ is removed, everyone is happy. If too much such organ tissue is removed, patient turns into the hormone deficiency – hormone replacement is then needed, as above. A permanent visiting to doctor turns to be new life style of the patient. This is because they cannot tell the reason for the reason for the less or over production of hormones in the body. Similar to the treatment of a cancer, they treat the symptom rather than the “disease”.

If the diagnosis is cancer, they are eager to start chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgical therapy. Except for early stage cancer, or some hormone-related cancer, the overall five-year survival rate of the treatments is still not so satisfied. It means that most of cancer patients, especially if the cancer is in middle-later stage, they cannot avoid die earlier than ordinary people, even after vigorous treatment.

If no any concrete pathological reason can be found, they either do not admit that you have a disease (they may say that you have a mental problem) and give you nothing for treatment but refer you to a mental specialist, or just let you take some symptomatic treatment: feel pain? Pain killer. Poor sleeping? Sleeping pills. Chronic cough? Cough suppressing medication, etc. After weeks, months, even years, you find that you still have the same problem no matter how many times of visit to a doctor. Then the dose of the drugs might have to be increased, so the side effect becomes serious too. Then you need other drug to solve the side effect. You link to the doctor permanently (doctor-created problem again).

After trying for a long time, when there is no way to go and your problem comes into the very late stage, such as heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, they will let you to have a surgery, such as heart transplantation, kidney transplantation, liver transplantation…. We admit that the transplantation technique is super in the conventional medicine than other medical system. But, why not to prevent the disease into so late stage?

Many times, a surgery is recommended even without vigorous treatment, such as hysterectomy for long time uterus bleeding or uterine fibroid. If the ovaries are also removed during the hysterectomy, people have to have hormone replacement from then on – a new permanent client to doctor too. Another example is the knee replacement. We found that doctors here are so eager to have knee replacement surgery. If the surgery success, every one is happy of course. However, our experience is that if the surgery fails, alternative treatment by acupuncture or a TCM treatment becomes also very difficult – surgical operation has changed the structure of the knee.

Now a days, the treatment by the conventional medicine tends to shift more from drugs to surgery, from natural therapy to a non-natural therapy. The surgical therapy might be simply “cut” of the diseased tissue or organ, or a transplantation with an artificial organ. This shift suggests the weakness of the western medicine system in the treatment of a disease with drugs and a failure to prevent a disease towards later stage.

If you have no any bad feelings physically or emotionally, but your doctor find that you have mild increase in your blood cholesterol, blood sugar or blood pressure, you are recommended to take drugs as soon as possible. For what? For prevention. According to the western medicine, they found that some people (Here I say, some, not most, or all of the people) with an increase in blood cholesterol, blood glucose level, or blood pressure may develop into arthrosclerosis or heart disease. Your doctor will give you some drugs to reduce the cholesterol, some for reduce the glucose, and some others, for blood pressure. You become a “patient”, or a permanent client to doctor, from the movement they see the lab test report. For such prevention melody, all of the people with increased cholesterol, glucose, or blood pressure have to take artificial drugs. All become “patients”, though theoretically only part, or small part of them may suffer from heart disease in later their lives, due to the inability of the conventional medical system that cannot tell exactly who will develop the heart disease.  

Once the patient has been recommended for a surgical operation, as we mentioned above, it is good if it works. Otherwise, the side effect due to the operation, such as pain, swelling, numbness, is hardly solved with conventional drugs or even with acupuncture or TCM therapies. In practice, it has been reported that large portion of hysterectomy are not necessary actually.  

In summary, the more doctor (physician or surgeon), the more healthcare resources are needed without guarantee that the number of patients will reduce and the waiting list will be shorten. Our medical system is also a reason for health problem, e.g. the doctor-created health problem, beside the bacteria, virus, genetic disorder, psychological influence, etc..

Realistic solution?

We, especially the doctors in the conventional medicine, have to admit that no any medical system in the world currently is perfect. Various medical systems, no matter it is the conventional medicine, or TCM system, have to be used in a rang of clinic conditions that they works best. We should try to solve health problem with a remedy that works as soon as possible but cause as less as possible side effects. We should be hesitated to apply a surgical therapy, if it is not yet mature to solve the problem, or if it does not work, or if it makes other medical therapy hardly work if the surgery per se fails.

If we admit that our healthcare policy is “patient first” and “solve the health problem first”, we should allow any therapy to try. Not care too much, at this movement, why it works. Not care too much if it has “scientific” evidence. Science is a course of searching the reason. It is not at all a conclusion. Clinic evidence is more importance than the scientific evidence, if we really put the “patient first” as our healthcare policy.