We talk to Daniel about trends and issues in traditional Chinese medicine, and what the future holds.

Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Medicine from North China Coal Medical College with a Diploma of Business from Lloyd’s International College Sydney and a Master’s Degree in Translation and Linguistics from the University of Western Sydney. Daniel studied a Master of Chiropractic with Macquarie University and has also worked at Tangshan People’s Hospital of China as a resident doctor. Daniel is an acupuncturist at Sunshine Acupuncture and Massage Centre in Australia and currently sits on the Complaints Committee and the Continuing Education Committee of ATMS.

Please give us a snapshot of where TCM is placed at present - what are the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, if any, to this sector of the natural medicine profession, as you see them? Over the past three decades, we’ve seen an increase in the number of members of the public using choosing TCM as one of their primary health care options, and its popularity has continued to rise. Major strengths of TCM in Australia are recognition, research and regulation. TCM has been regulated in Victoria since 2002 and nationally since 2012. The safety of the public is protected by AHPRA regulations and TCM is recognised as a major health provider by all of the private health funds.

The efficacy and effectiveness of TCM has also been well endorsed by research published in many internationally renowned medical journals. Degree courses in TCM are delivered by many Australian universities including UTS and RMIT, and the University of Western Sydney has recently opened a dedicated institute of TCM to conduct research work and has been granted $20 million by the Chinese government for its outstanding work.

While TCM is experiencing rapid growth in Australia, there is still a lack of support from the Australian government as currently there is still no Medicare cover for TCM treatments – even though research demonstrates evidence of its efficacy. Overall I see TCM as presenting more opportunities than threats, and more strengths than weaknesses – just take a look at Professor Tu Youyou who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 for her contribution to outstanding TCM herbal research and in doing so took TCM to new heights on the world stage!

What changes would you like to see in the natural medicine profession in particular, and the wellness industry in general? I would like to see more of the public accept natural medicine as one of their primary health care options. I also hope members of private health funds would be offered more benefit for using natural therapies. In China, TCM is integrated into the Medicare system and has been practised in hospitals; while in US hospitals, acupuncture has been introduced to treat a range of emergency conditions, including pain and comas. I hope that Australia will follow suit.

Can you share any upcoming initiatives from ATMS that will positively impact TCM? Yes, the recent Natural Medicine Week initiative has been a great way to spread the word further amongst the public about the benefits of TCM to good health.

What's the best thing about your job? The best thing about my job is providing health care to my patients with efficacy, effectiveness and care, without bringing to them unwanted adverse effects.

What is your advice for anyone starting out who is interested in a career in natural medicine? My advice for anyone who is interested in a career in natural medicine is to have confidence in the ability of natural medicine to help patients by bringing them long term and holistic health benefits.