General and Safety Questions

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE FEEL?

Prior to their first treatment, many people do not believe that acupuncture can be painless. Different sensations such as soreness, numbness, distending, warmth and pressure may be felt, but the energetic sensation differs from pain. People often comment that the feeling is unfamiliar but pleasant and relaxing. We find that most of our patients are so relaxed during a session that they may even nap.

Acupuncture needles differ from hypodermic needles used for injections. Unlike hypodermic needles which are hollow and cut the skin, acupuncture needles are solid and as thin as a hair.

If you have a real fear of needles, discuss it with your acupuncturist. An appropriate treatment strategy can always be agreed upon.

IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?

Yes, we use disposable single use sterile needles. We employ the Clean Needle Technique. In addition, our experienced Practitioners and Doctors know exactly where to insert the needles, avoiding sensitive areas.

Acupuncture treatments can be safely provided to all age groups, including enfants, children, adults and seniors.

ARE HERBS SAFE?

We take great care to ensure that the source of our herbs is reliable and safe. We use only reputable wholesalers with whom we have an ongoing relationship to ensure herbal safety. As with all products which are for human consumption, safety is of utmost concern. Additionally, each of our practitioners has extensive experience and knowledge, understanding the potential interaction between some herbs and pharmaceuticals. Please ensure you keep your practitioner apprised of all prescription and non-prescription medication you are consuming.

ARE HERBS SAFE TO COMBINE WITH WESTERN MEDICATIONS?

Some western medical doctors (MDs) believe that herbal products are not safe, particularly to use in combination with western pharmaceuticals. This is simply not correct. Our doctors are aware of some herbs which must be avoided while using various western medications. For this reason, it is imperative that each patient inform us if they are currently or will be under the care of a western fertility doctor, and to further inform us of what medications they are consuming. If your MD advises you not to take herbal medicines, we will of course respect the direction.

WHAT IF CONCEPTION IS NOT THE GOAL; WILL YOU STILL TREAT ME?

It is true the majority of our clients wish to conceive and carry a healthy baby to term. However, many of our patients receive treatments for a variety of reasons and do not necessarily wish to conceive. For example, some patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may wish to be treated but may not be trying to become pregnant, while some patients we treat may have hormone related disorders, are peri- or post-menopausal, or present with multiple overlapping disorders. Still other people come to us with a variety of aches and pains, headaches or other disorders for which acupuncture treatments or Chinese herbs provide rapid and real relief.

Our practitioners are educated and trained in all areas of medicine, and have each spent many years working in hospital treatments settings gaining valuable experience treating a very wide variety of disorders. During a consultation, our practitioners will review your medical history and relevant test results you may have. Our practitioners will then create a custom treatment plan for you and provide you with a written copy of the plan so that you fully understand the recommendations.


How Often, How Many: The Treatment Plan:

HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I NEED?

As each person is unique, the number of treatments needed will vary. Among the determining factors are the type of condition being treated, whether the condition is chronic or acute, and the over health of the individual. On average, fertility patients require about three months of consistent treatment and monitoring, however there is a big range and variation in patient’s medical needs.

If you are planning to undergo IVF or other assisted reproductive procedures and wish to have acupuncture around the day of transfer, this can be arranged. The practitioners and doctors at Total Wellness Centre recommend all patients receive regular acupuncture as far in advance of egg retrieval and transfer as possible. This helps to prepare the body to be in optimal condition for the procedure. Again, you should discuss your treatment program with your acupuncturist.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I RECEIVE ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?

The number and frequency of acupuncture treatments depend entirely on the physical condition of each individual. On average, patients require acupuncture between once and twice per week. A written treatment plan will be created during the first initial visit to our clinic which outlines the practitioner’s recommendations. All patients receive a copy of the written treatment plan.

SHOULD I STOP OTHER MEDICATIONS?

No. You should continue to follow your current physician’s instructions. Please remember that acupuncture is used to complement and supplement your physician’s treatments not to replace them. You should discuss this issue with your physician and acupuncturist. Also, most herbs that Total Wellness Centre prescribes do not react with western medication. However, please inform our practitioners of all western medication that you are taking so that they may ensure that their prescriptions do not interfere with the efficacy of other medications.

HOW DO YOU SET YOUR FEES?

Our fees are consistent; each patient pays the same for an acupuncture session from each and every one of our practitioners. The fees are set based on the education and experience of the practitioners. Our practitioners are all professors in their fields with the same high levels of experience.

Fees do not change depending on what is being treated. Staying true to the fundamental beliefs of traditional Chinese medicine, we treat the whole person, as a whole. Disorders and their symptoms are not dissected and treated independently. There are not different fees for different disorders. Patients who are treated for infertility, for example, find that other symptoms they have such as acne or cramps, are also treated at the same time. That is a goal of TCM, not simply a side effect. To this end there is one fee for treating the whole person, not an individual disorder.

Similarly, we do not charge for acupuncture based on time. Different people with different disorders require different numbers of acupuncture points, stimulation and treatment time. We treat according to the individual and that person’s own medical needs. The cost for treatment does not differ from treatment to treatment or person to person.

Due to the different nature of acupuncture and naturopathic treatments, different rates apply. However, the rates are set and do not vary between patient or based on the disorder.

Acupuncture professional fees are now HST exempt in Ontario.


Infertility, Acupuncture and TCM:

CAN I COMBINE IVF AND WESTERN FERTILITY MEDICINE SAFELY WITH ACUPUNCTURE OR HERBS?

Yes, in most instances. However, please tell us about all the medication (prescription and over the counter) that you are taking. Studies have shown that the use of acupuncture and herbs prior to IVF greatly increases the efficacy of IVF. Modern medical wisdom seems to suggest that we combine what is useful from each source. Indeed, this is the case in China today. In medical schools in China the students learn 60% Chinese and 40% Western medicine and can apply both after training. Because Chinese medicine addresses the underlying cause of a condition rather than just the symptoms, it is often helpful to treat conditions generally unresponsive to western drug-oriented treatment. Examples include PMS, headache, vertigo, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, etc. Conversely, some conditions, most notably bacterial infections and conditions with structural changes, e.g., fractures or tumors, respond more rapidly to Western techniques. Very frequently the two methodologies can be combined to the patient’s greater benefit. For example, in our infertility practice we can use Chinese medicine alone, or in combination with fertility promoting medications prescribed by western doctors, as indicated by the patient’s age, medical history, etc.

HOW FAR AHEAD OF MY IVF OR IUI TREATMENT SHOULD I ATTEND YOUR CLINIC?

The answer depends on the individual’s needs, however we suggest treating the root cause of infertility using acupuncture and herbs as far ahead of time as possible. The more time you have to treat the underlying cause of infertility, the more prepared you will be physically, mentally and emotionally to deal with IVF or IUI.

WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE OF ACUPUNCTURE USED TO TREAT INFERTILITY?

Patients attending Total Wellness Centre experience success rates which are above average. However, the success rate varies with many factors including patient adherence to the treatment program, age of the patient, and the specific medical condition of the patient. Studies show that patients undergoing concurrent treatments, such as IVF in combination with Acupuncture, will significantly elevate their rate of conception. However, the patient is advised to bear in mind that traditional Western medical treatments alone, such as IVF, achieve a modest success rate at best. While some clinics claim success rates as high as 80%, we do not wish to instill false hopes. Each patient must be considered an individual and treated as such. In addition, simply conceiving is not the goal of Total Wellness Centre, but rather carrying a healthy baby to term.

IS ACUPUNCTURE MORE EFFECTIVE THAN HERBS IN TREATING INFERTILITY?

The causes of infertility vary. Some causes respond well to acupuncture, others to herbal treatment, while still others require both acupuncture and herbs. At Total Wellness Centre, we believe that all acupuncturists should have extensive experience with herbs, herbal formulas and the prescription of herbs. Understanding who can benefit from herbs demonstrates a deep understanding of both acupuncture and herbs. Practitioners should know when and when not to prescribe herbs.

DO I NEED TO BE UNDER THE CARE OF A WESTERN DOCTOR OR GYNECOLOGIST WHILE ATTENDING YOUR CLINIC?

No. We are happy to see you with or without a referral. We can develop your treatment plan using Traditional Chinese Medical diagnosis and treatments even if you have never seen a Western Doctor regarding your medical issues. However, if you have been seen by a Western Doctor and have been diagnosed by him or her, although not necessary to begin treatments at our clinic, the diagnosis and any relevant test results do help us to specify the right treatment plan for you as quickly as possible. In addition, if you require a referral to a Western fertility specialist, we can assist, as we work closely and within many fertility clinics.


Questions About Acupuncture and TCM in General:

HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE AN ACUPUNCTURIST?

You should ask where the acupuncturist was trained and how much experience he/she has had in treating your disease or disorder. Some acupuncturists, including medical doctors (MDs), Chiropractors and Physiotherapists receive very little training, even as little as a weekend course. Our practitioners of Chinese Medicine have at least eight years of TCM education; four years of University undergraduate acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine schooling followed by four years of post-graduate education attaining advanced degrees in acupuncture and Chinese Herbs and prescriptions. In addition, our practitioners of Chinese Medicine have at least 25 years or more of experience each.

All practitioners of Acupuncture in the Province of Ontario should now be registered and members in good standing of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO). While members of other health profession Colleges may be permitted to perform acupuncture treatments, finding an acupuncturist who is a member of the CTCMPAO or equivalent College in your area, ensures your practitioner meets the bare minimum standards to treat complex conditions.

You may review the WORLD DIRECTORY OF MEDICAL SCHOOLS provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO provides a list of medical schools by country, so that you can review the credentials of the practitioner.
We consider it mandatory for each of our practitioners to be well versed in all aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and custom herbal prescriptions (raw herbs and ‘patent’ herbal pills). Even if you will not be receiving herbs for the treatment of your disorder, we believe that patients are best served by well-rounded, properly educated and highly experienced practitioners.

Some practitioners in associated or allied health fields do practice acupuncture. For example, Chiropractors, medical doctors, physiotherapists, and so on. We strongly believe that only trained practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine are qualified to perform acupuncture for the treatment of complex systemic disorders such as infertility. Chiropractors and others who perform acupuncture may help in limited areas such as pain management, they simply do not have the years of focused education and experience treating other disorders using acupuncture.

HOW IS TOTAL WELLNESS CENTRE DIFFERENT THAN OTHER TCM CLINICS?

There are a lot of traditional Chinese medical clinics in the GTA. Choosing the right clinic and practitioner can be a challenge.

We believe we stand apart from all others. A combination of experience, focus, patient care, continuity and connections to the western medical community are a few of the reasons we are different. Patients tell us they appreciate that a single senior practitioner takes full responsibility for their consultation, treatments, prescriptions and care. We are aware of a few clinics where the senior practitioner merely oversees the treatment plan. In these various clinics, a junior acupuncturist or even a technician performs the acupuncture. Apart from the initial consultation, the patient will not be continually assessed by the senior practitioner and have their treatment plan modified as TCM and progress require. At Total Wellness Centre, patients only see and receive treatment from our senior practitionerss, as we only have senior experienced practitioners!

In addition, patients tell us that having the opportunity to ask senior practitioners questions at each appointment is critical to their treatment success.

WHY AREN'T REGISTERED TCM PRACTITIONERS (R. TCMP, R. Ac.) ALL CALLED DOCTORS (C.M.D., DTCM, D.AC, ETC.) IN ONTARIO?

Traditional Chinese medicine recently became a self-regulated health profession in Ontario. The decision to become self-regulated was as much a political decision as it was a decision based on sound medical and safety concerns. The Provincial government passed the law that regulates TCM in Ontario, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act back in 2006. Since that time there have been amendments to the Act and to the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Most recently, the RHPA was amended to include the authorization for registered TCM practitioners in Ontario to use the restricted title DOCTOR. The amendment has not yet been proclaimed. Frequent elections and politics have delayed the coming into effect of that amendment. Until such time as the Lieutenant Governor proclaims the amendment law, no practitioner in Ontario can use the term Doctor.

Other jurisdictions around the world and Canada do permit TCM practitioners to use the term doctor. For that reason alone, we believe it is only a matter of time before the government and the regulatory College come into line with international norms. Additionally, each of our practitioners is, in fact, a medical doctor and TCM doctor in their home country.

WHAT ARE THE LAMPS AND ELECTRONIC GADGETS I SEE DURING ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?

An infrared lamp as well as low-voltage direct current stimulation via the acupuncture needle may be used to maintain stimulation of the acupoints. These are now well-accepted techniques in bolstering the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture.

CAN ACUPUNCTURE BE EFFECTIVE WHEN OTHER TREATMENTS HAVE FAILED?

Yes. Each system of medicine has its own areas of greatest effectiveness. Acupuncture excels in those areas in which conventional medicine comes up short. Chronic disease, unexplained infertility issues, pain control, and stress related disorders are just a few of the areas in which acupuncture and Chinese medicine are effective. Please read our more of what acupuncture and herbs can treat.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING MY FIRST VISIT?

During your first office visit, the practitioner may ask you at length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behaviour. The practitioner will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviours that may contribute to your condition. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments or medications you are taking and all medical conditions you have. The practitioner will also use standard traditional Chinese medical diagnostic techniques such as taking the pulses and checking the tongue.

Depending on the problem being treated and your prior condition, you may experience a wide range of sensations the first time you have acupuncture. Since the treatment goal is the restoration and balance of the body’s Qi, some patients will experience a burst of energy while others may feel relaxed or even tired. Many people experience a sense of calm and well being. Occasionally a patient may feel euphoric or light headed, especially after the first treatment.

Small, localized bruises from minor bleeding under the skin are infrequent, but do happen. These are no cause for alarm, and despite the cosmetic inconvenience, they actually provide a kind of bonus treatment. The re-absorption of the blood continues the stimulation of the acupuncture point even without the presence of the needle.

The practitioner will insert the needles and then leave you to rest for a period of time, often 20-30 minutes, depending on what is being treated. In every case, the practitioner will return to both re-stimulate the needles and to remove the needles and safely dispose of them. All you have to do is relax!

The first appointment, which generally includes a full consultation and acupuncture treatment session takes about 90 minutes.

CAN WESTERN AND CHINESE MEDICINE BE COMBINED?

Yes, in most instances. However, please tell us about all the medication (prescription and over the counter) that you are taking. Studies have shown that the use of acupuncture and herbs prior to IVF greatly increases the efficacy of IVF. Modern medical wisdom seems to suggest that we combine what is useful from each source. Indeed, this is the case in China today. In medical schools in China the students learn 60% Chinese and 40% Western medicine and can apply both after training. Because Chinese medicine addresses the underlying cause of a condition rather than just the symptoms, it is often helpful to treat conditions generally unresponsive to western drug-oriented treatment. Examples include PMS, headache, vertigo, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, etc. Conversely, some conditions, most notably bacterial infections and conditions with structural changes, e.g., fractures or tumors, respond more rapidly to Western techniques. Very frequently the two methodologies can be combined to the patient’s greater benefit. For example, in our infertility practice we can use Chinese medicine alone, or in combination with fertility promoting medications prescribed by western doctors, as indicated by the patient’s age, medical history, etc.

WHY DO MY ACUPUNCTURE POINTS AND HERBAL PRESCRIPTIONS KEEP CHANGING EVERY WEEK?

TCM treats both the symptoms and underlying cause of your disorder at the same time. As your symptoms improve or change, both acupuncture points and herbs need to be adjusted. You may find that some acupuncture points tend to be the same, and some herbs seem to be a part of every formula from week to week. These points and herbs may be the ones used to address the underlying cause of your disorder. In addition, TCM is a very individualized practice of medicine. No two people will receive the same herbs, or have the same points addressed using acupuncture. For these reasons, the practitioner must continually adjust your treatment plan and prescriptions so that they are most beneficial to you.


Anatomical or Medical Acupuncture:

HOW ARE YOUR PRACTITIONERS DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS WHO MAY PERFORM ACUPUNCTURE?

It is true that many health care practitioners in Ontario practice acupuncture. Chiropractors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, and even doctors and dentists may practice some form of acupuncture. Most of these health care professionals have taken weekend or intense courses in “Contemporary Medical Acupuncture”, “Medical Acupuncture”, “Anatomical Acupuncture” or some other needling courses. They often use acupuncture as an adjunct therapy to their primary therapies. However, few if any of these health care practitioners have the training and experience of a true practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Anatomical or medical acupuncture is not based on traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on western medical systems. While the anatomical or medical acupuncturist follows western medical science, it is interesting to note that for acupuncture they attempt to follow a limited number of TCM acupuncture points. This is not surprising considering various organizations and councils in Ontario that purport to regulate anatomical or medical acupuncture set the standards very low for certification purposes. The Acupuncture Council of Ontario sets the educational standard for anatomical or medical acupuncture regulation at only 220 hours training. This is compared to the average TCM university level course in China which offers 4500 hours for the basic degree alone.

Our practitioners practice only Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is not an add-on treatment, adjunct therapy, or something extra we can offer our patients. Our practitioners’ focus is acupuncture and herbology. They have spent at least eight years of training in acupuncture and herbal prescriptions, combined with at least 25 years each of experience in their respective fields. Passing on our passion for TCM, our practitioners are sought after to teach traditional Chinese medicine to TCM students in Canada. We are the experts in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and herbal prescriptions.

CAN I RECEIVE ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENTS FROM YOUR NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?

Our Naturopathic Doctor is fully trained and qualified to provide acupuncture treatments to patients. However, our Naturopathic Doctor spends her time practicing various modalities and treatment techniques, while our acupuncturists spend the bulk of their time providing acupuncture. Our clinic aims to be the best; you might say our Naturopathic Doctor is a skilled acupuncturist while our acupuncturists are master needlers.

We recommend allowing our acupuncturists to prescribe the necessary acupuncture points for treatment and whenever possible, seeking acupuncture treatments directly from them. Our Naturopathic Doctor is happy to follow such prescribed points; for example, she frequently attends pre and post IVF transfer patient appointments to provide acupuncture treatments.