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Health // Doctor in the House
MidWeek Staff

Chinese Medicine, Modern Practice

Elena And Victor Tan
Licensed acupuncturists and massage therapists at Loong Qi Clinic, and Victor Tan is a world acrobat champion

How did you get involved in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)?

My wife Elena and I are both from China. Both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family are all Chinese medicine doctors. Also, I was an acrobat. Elena and I worked for the same acrobat troupe. We had injuries all the time, so we would go to see a sports medicine doctor. Chinese sports medicine doctors are quite different from American sports doctors. Most of the time they use acupuncture, massage and herbs to treat injuries.

I had to go to the doctor often because I was a serious acrobat. I reached the highest level in the world and received the Gold Medal Award 20 years ago. Before me, people could do a backward somersault through four hoops. They said no one could successfully jump through five, but I did.

I would always go to see the best sports doctor. I went often, so I learned a lot. I watched carefully how they did their treatments. Because both sides of my family were all doctors, they said, “Victor, you can only do acrobatics while you are young. If you study Chinese medicine, you will have a job when you’re older.” That’s why Elena and I both went to TCM College to learn, and we’ve been practicing more than 20 years. I’ve practiced in China, New York and Hawaii.

How did both of you become interested in being acrobats?

We were born in Chairman Mao’s time, during the Cultural Revolution. We were chosen to become acrobats. I performed on stage about 30 years, from 6 to 36. When we had our first child, we stopped. Otherwise, maybe we would have continued. We trained really hard every day, at least 10-and-a-half hours.

Do you and Elena both practice acupuncture, massage and herbal remedies?

Yes, but Chinese massage is a different style. It’s for treating problems, not only for relaxing. We learn much more about the meridians, the pressure points, the muscles.

When did you begin practicing in Hawaii?

We started in 1994. We were here for 10 years and then we went back to China for 10 years. We just returned to Hawaii in June. During those 10 years in China, we learned some new medicinal technology. Research is always ongoing. Now, we do a facial using a microneedle. In China, I did that for famous movie stars, and it was a very successful treatment. I also have started doing these facials here in Hawaii.

What can you tell us about the Tan’s Patch you invented?

It’s a patch that is made 100 percent of herbs. It’s really successful. The Chinese Olympic teams use my patch. China hosted the 2008 Olympics and they had really successful games, winning a lot of gold medals. Many of the athletes who won the medals wrote me letters of appreciation because my patch helped them.

It’s a formula from my great-grandfather. He used to coach soldiers at China’s military college, a college similar to West Point. Soldiers in training get injuries, so he created an herbal formula to heal them. When I became a TCM doctor, he gave the formula to me. I actually changed the formula. The old way was to use dry herbs in the clinic, but I made the patch using new technology, and it’s been really successful in treating pain. With some patches, you feel really hot or really cold for a short while, but the sensation soon goes away and then you don’t feel anything. The Tan’s Patch continues working for three days. We have tested it. With new technology, we’re able to condense herbs and fit a lot more of them into the patch. For my generation, learning Chinese medicine is totally different from how it was done before. I graduated from a TCM college and I have a license to practice.

What conditions does TCM help?

All kinds of pain: neck pain, shoulder pain, lower back, knee, sciatica and headaches. When people are in pain, they tend to go see a medical doctor, but treating pain is very difficult. Conventional doctors use pain killers, ice, heat, injections and surgery. Most of our patients come to us to treat their pain, and we can really do a lot for all kinds of pain. I also have had success treating a stroke patient. She could not move or stand. Every week I went to her house and treated her. After one month, I held her and she was able to walk. In the past, people didn’t realize acupuncture and massage could help this condition, but it really can. I had another patient with Bell’s palsy, paralysis of the face. She came two times a week for about one month, and after one month, the paralysis was almost gone and she made a speedy recovery. Our treatments are good for carpal tunnel syndrome, stress and migraines, too.

Are your treatments covered by insurance?

These days, yes. I am able to accept many insurance plans because they do cover acupuncture. My treatments are covered by no-fault insurance and worker’s compensation plans.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am in the process of founding a nonprofit organization for a cultural and arts exchange. My goal is to create an Asian Pacific cultural arts festival, to bring acrobats here and different kinds of dancing by various nationalities. The organization I’m setting up is the Hawaii Asia Pacific Institute of Culture and Arts. I want to do this because Elena and I have been performing our whole lives. It’s hard to totally give it up. We would like to teach acrobatics to children in Hawaii not for competition, but for fun.

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