Richmond has the highest concentration of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinics in the Lower Mainland – there are around 30 TCM and acupuncture clinics in the city and the number continues to grow as new clinics open.
“TCM, including herbal medicine and acupuncture, is very popular in Richmond. Clinics are everywhere and more people are getting familiar with this type of medicine, which drives the demand for more clinics to open in Richmond,” said John Yang, chair of the TCM program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)’s Richmond campus.
Yang said he has seen the demand grow, especially after the pandemic when people put more focus on health, exploring holistic and natural medical practices and treatment such as traditional Chinese medicine. The school’s teaching clinic on campus has seen more bookings and wait times can be up to six weeks.
There are also more people interested in getting into the industry and applying to TCM programs like his, he added.
“Initially we only had about a dozen applicants. Over the years, it increased to 50 and then to 80. This year, we had more than 100 applicants and only 30 to 40 qualified students were selected into the program,” said Yang.
Tian Yi Health Center at 2688 Shell Rd. is one of the TCM clinics that recently opened in Richmond. It just celebrated its second anniversary last month.
Zilu Liu, founder of the centre, said she has benefited greatly from TCM and hopes to help more people in Richmond.
“We opened the clinic during the pandemic, which was not a great time to open any kind of business. But this is something I’m very passionate about and strongly believe in, so I hope to help more people learn about TCM and benefit from it by opening this centre,” said Liu.
Liu said she used to be in poor health and very skinny ever since she was a child and never fully recovered after getting treated in hospitals, so she “always had strong desire for health.”
Things changed after she learned about traditional Chinese medicine and was treated by an experienced TCM doctor. She moved to a warmer city on her doctor’s advice, and experienced significant improvement in her health, putting on 20 kilograms. She then studied TCM herself.
TCM is in everyday life
“The basic TCM principal is when there is sufficient healthy qi inside, pathogenic factors have no way to invade the body,” Liu said. “TCM strengthens a person’s immune system to prevent diseases or to improve the ability to self-heal.”
She explained there are many aspects of TCM and they all work together to achieve better health and immune system outcomes.
For example, acupuncture stimulates points on the meridians to speed up circulation, herbal medicine treats internal organs and Gua Sha (a tool used to scrape people’s skin) promotes blood circulation by expanding capillaries.
But Liu said TCM is not just about visiting doctors in the clinics, rather it’s something people can do in their daily life by choosing what to eat and wear. She hosts regular events at her centre to share TCM knowledge.
“All food has its function if you eat it at the right time. For example, like now, duck soup can serve as Chinese medicine in the fall, a cold and dry season, because it can nourish the lungs and reduce dryness in the body,” she explained.
“And you should wear layered clothes in this season instead of something that covers yourself very tightly, because in TCM, we believe that our body has accumulated heat in the summer that needs to be let out in the fall.”
Yang said he is glad to see the industry growing in Richmond and competition will push TCM practitioners to provide better services.
“TCM is not covered by MSP so people have to spend their own money; therefore, some people need to see results right away," he said.
There is a lot of pressure on TCM practitioners if you cannot address their concerns, so we need to work hard and study hard to provide the best services."
He said people looking for a TCM or acupuncture practitioner need to make sure they have a valid license.
"And because each individual practitioner’s background and experience are different, people can make an appointment at a clinic to have a consultation first to figure out if the practitioner is suitable or has enough experience to address their medical concerns.”