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  • How many sessions do I need in order to start feeling the benefits?

    That depends on the severity of the condition. For some people, the effect of acupuncture can be quite dramatic — they may feel the benefits after one session. For others, the response may be more gradual. In general, you should notice at least small changes in your condition within four to six treatments. If you are not seeing benefits, keep in mind that there is variability in the quality of acupuncturists. So before deciding whether acupuncture works for you, you could also consider trying a different practitioner. At Tianbao health center,the majority of our patients conditions improve after their first visit.

  • How big are the needles and how deep are they inserted?

       The stainless steel needles, normally about as thin as a human hair, are pre-sterilized and disposable. Unlike the hollow needles used for giving injections, acupuncture needles are solid. The acupuncturist will insert them to a depth of anywhere from a quarter of an inch to 3 inches, depending on the amount of subcutaneous fat that the needles need to penetrate.

  • Who Pays the Cost?

     In Ontario, although the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act (2006) has been passed by the provincial legislative assembly as an alternative healthcare service, the cost of acupuncture is not covered by OHIP at this moment. However, most of the extended insurance plans do cover the cost due to the highly recognized effectiveness of acupuncture in helping patients restore their health.

    For more details about the coverage and claim procedures, please check with your insurance policy administrator.

  • Is acupuncture safe?

    If performed by a qualified, conscientious practitioner, yes. Licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy well, and insert needles in a safe fashion. The instruments used to penetrate the skin are either pre-sterilized and disposed of after a single use, or disinfected and sterilized in an autoclave, as surgical and dental instruments are after each use.

    The practitioner is well aware of the concern regarding infectious diseases, and takes every measure to ensure cleanliness as all health care professional do.

    Bleeding rarely occurs, unless done so on purpose in specific situations. Even then, the amount is minimal and in no way dangerous.

  • What're differences between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine?

              Boundless Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine  Giddy, vomiting, nervous, and in pain, with all these feelings of illness surrounding me, I faced the second time I had caught a cold that summer. Although I took some non-prescription medicine which was very effective when I took it at the first time, it didn’t seem to work this time. Therefore, my parents took me to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor. An old man who had white hair and ruddy complexion  asked me some questions instead of using machines to check me, and gave me several packages which contained some plants which tasted very bitter but really made me feel better. It was the first time I realized the usefulness of Traditional Chinese Medicine .With promotion of integration and globalization, Chinese Medicine is known by an increasing number of western countries; therefore, the comparison of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine (WM) has become more and more frequent. Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine are very important in medical areas; however, the basic philosophy, treatment and drug use of these two kinds of medicine have some differences.

              Because of the cultural and historical disparities between the West and East, the basic philosophy of TCM and WM are different. Scientists believe that Western Medicine originated from the European practice of the ‘atomic theory’ which was originally developed by the ancient Greeks (Xutian et al., 2009, p.413). Western Medicine focuses on finding the causes of illness, is based on an autopsy foundation, and uses modern instruments like microscopes, to study cells which cause the diseases. In a word, Western Medicine basically belongs to biomedicine; besides, it reflects more mechanistic and materialistic concerns (Dutton, 2008, p.37). Traditional Chinese Medicine, unlike Western Medicine, originated from ancient Chinese culture, and has various theories like the Yin and Yang theory (阴,阳),the five-phase theory(Wu Xing, 五行),and the meridian system theory (经络)(Xutian et al., 2009, p.415). The research of TCM is based on living investigations, and paying attention to the balance of the human body’s energy. For example, the Yin and Yang are two kinds of energy, they need to be in equal balance; however, if the Yin is too much or the Yang is too much, a person will become unhealthy. TCM insists that the human body and nature have a deep relationship so that it focuses on improving relationship, and rebuilding the wellness of the body. In brief, both TCM and WM are based on their cultural and historical backgrounds, so they manifest different basic philosophies.

    Another area of difference between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine is the treatment method.  For Western Medicine, treating disease is like a kind of war; the goal is to find the cause, and focus on it as soon as possible, and then destroy it. Furthermore, sometimes WM uses as a treatment methods to remove or replace the cells that cause the illness (Xutian et al., 2009, p.419). More specifically, the main idea of the WM treatment is to decrease the pain, and increase the patient’s physical activity. Although WM treatment usually can alleviate the problem quickly, sometimes it brings negative side-effects. In contrast, TCM uses the four diagnoses method which includes look, listen, question, and feel the pulse; moreover, it focuses on finding the reason why the body system becomes disordered, and uses herbs or some methods like acupuncture and moxibustion which is a type of heat therapy that uses instruments to stimulate the acupuncture point, to rebuild the balance. Nonetheless, the four diagnoses method and usage of herbs depends on the doctor’s rich experience, so some young unqualified TCM doctor might misdiagnose and make the disease worse. In addition, there is a saying “Where there is stagnation, there is pain; remove stagnation to reduce pain” (Chen, 2011, p.12), which means the pain is caused by the blockage of energy flow. The treatment of TCM is a long term project. Considered as a shortcoming, it usually takes the patient a lot of time to see the curative effect, needing the patient to keep a peaceful, patient, and positive attitude. Consequently, TCM and WM conduct different treatment methods that are clearly distinguished.

    Finally, the use of drugs and the drug efficacy are different between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. Through many years of research, WM has developed synthetic chemical drugs which are pure, work fast, and can be used in targeted therapy. The way to take these drugs is very easy; most of the time, the patient just needs a cup of water, and washes the drug down. Furthermore, some drugs are coated with sugar which tastes good. Thus, patients, especially children, are not afraid to take WM drugs. But these may be drawback. For instance, Anti-Inflammatory drugs which are effective for mild to moderate pain and inflammation, can cause renal damage( Chen, 2011,p.12); also some antibiotics, if overly dosed will be gradually no longer effective. Different from Western Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine through thousands of years’ experience uses herbal medicine such as plants or animal products to heal illness (Xutian et al., 2009, p.423). Prescriptions of TCM are very complex. According to the "assistant and guide" of principles of formulating prescriptions, doctors give patients an herbal mixture which needs to be boiled. After several times of boiling, patients keep the remaining water and drink it. However, this process takes a long time. The complex method to take herbal medicine, the long waiting for curative effect, and the bitter taste of herbal medicine are often complained about by patients. Although herbal drugs have these weaknesses, many people like to take them because they have no side effects. Many herbal medicines can rebuild the patient’s body health, and repair the damaged organs as well as protect the other organs. Some herbal medicine has many kinds of functions. Not only can it cure diseases, it can also preserve one’s health.

    In conclusion, there are many differences between TCM and WM in terms of basic philosophy, treatment and drug use, despite which both are following the goal of improving and maintaining human health.. Understanding these differences can help people get a better knowledge of how to build their health and cure illness in the right way; yet, there is no intent to dispute which one is better than the other. Along with the trend of economic globalization, these two kinds of medicine affect each other, and TCM is being accepted by more and more western countries. As both kinds of medicine have their own shortcomings, some medical experts try to find methods to combine the strengths of TCM and WM. Nowadays, many associations which combine traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine have been established. Some satisfactory progress has also been made in some hospitals that use treatment of western medicine combined with TCM. Therefore, for promoting human health, the research of combining TCM and WM deserves more attention and needs to be continued.




      Chen, J. (2011). Pain management with western and Chinese medicine. California Journal of Oriental Medicine, 22(2), 12-15. Retrieved from  URL

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     Dutton, D. (2008). Melancholic humours:  conceptions of energy flow and constraint in Chinese and western medicine. Journal of Chinese Medicine, 86(2), 34-38. Retrieved from URL

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    Xutian, S., Zhang, J., Louise, W. (2009). New exploration and understanding of traditional Chinese medicine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 37(3), 411-426. Retrieved from URL

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    by Mei Wang, 2012