When the acupuncture needles were inserted into his body, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the Oscar-winning director, struggled to keep smiling in front of his wife and three kids, who were holding breath and watching attentively.
"It can hurt a little, but the pain does not stay, it takes maybe a few seconds then it goes away," Donnersmarck told Xinhua on Friday at an acupuncture clinic.
Donnersmarck has been coming to the Beijing Chinese Medical Center in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, every week for three months.
This 44-year-old German director is best known for his thriller "The Lives of Others," which won the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the 79th Oscars in 2007.
Years of working hard in the movie industry caused Donnersmarck neck pains, and it got serious in February when the doctor told him he needed surgery. Then a nurse suggested him to try Traditional Chinese medicine and to see Dr. Wu Baolin at the Beijing Chinese Medical Center.
As a recognized authority on Traditional Chinese medicine with a degree in Western medicine, Dr. Wu has been practicing in Santa Monica for 27 years.
Donnersmarck admitted that it was scary when he saw the acupuncture needles for the first time. "Acupuncture is a very precise, careful and caring process... the doctor can not miss by a few millimeters," he told Xinhua, "With Dr. Wu, you feel so much the deep wisdom, the experience, the knowledge. I feel it so much and I trust him."
His trust paid him back. Without any surgery, Donnersmarck's problem was solved in one month. "I found that Western medicine can be very aggressive, and it has extreme side effects," Donnersmarck said. "But for Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, they do not have side effects, it is about activating the energy and oxygen flow in the body, it is about helping the body heal itself."
Another thing that Donnersmarck found impressive was how Dr. Wu takes Western medicine into consideration and uses that in Traditional Chinese medicine.
"He is not against Western medicine, there are specific cases where he says this is better looked by Western doctors," Donnersmarck said when he took his family members to see Dr. Wu, who would look carefully at the diagnosis made by Western doctors. "He knows every aspect of Western medicine."
Traditional Chinese medicine originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and Tai chi, to treat or prevent health problems.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Americans now use Traditional Chinese Medicine primarily as a complementary heath approach and millions of U.S. adults have used acupuncture in recent years.
In March, the State of Wyoming passed its first acupuncture law, which has made Wyoming the 47th state to regulate the practice of acupuncture.
Dr. Wu pointed out that there are about 54,000 licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors in the United States, and half of them live in California.
"It is not easy for Traditional Chinese Medicine to be recognized in the United States," Wu told Xinhua. "More people start to understand that Chinese medicine and Western medicine should be brought together. This is not an either-or case."
As a filmmaker, Donnersmarck pointed out that, as more and more China-U.S. jointly produced films coming to the big screen in recent years, Western medicine and Chinese medicine should work together as well. People can learn more about Chinese culture through co-production movies as well as through Traditional Chinese medicine.
"I think each country has great things to contribute (to this world), and I think one of the great things that China has to contribute is Traditional Chinese medicine," he added.