Eastern medicine practitioner and innovator Ravee Chen combines the heritage of his ancestors with his young age to share how ancient medicine should fit in today’s healthcare. As the founder of one of the largest Traditional Chinese Medicine Colleges in Canada, Chen has dedicated over a decade to learning natural medicine and figuring out how to infuse it with Western practices.
Ravee, 29 years old, started with a mobile clinic as a TCM Practitioner, using acupuncture, herbal remedies, and functional foods. He treated patients in their homes, offices, and hospitals. That wasn’t enough — he wanted to help more people.
In 2017, Ravee Chen started his journey into education. By 2023, he was the founder or CEO of the two largest TCM colleges in Canada, Eight Branches College of Eastern Medicine in Toronto and the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (CCATCM). With his novel and innovative approach to medicine and education, Chen led the TCM industry to its next phase of growth in instructing and providing diplomas to students of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) from across the world.
As an entrepreneur passionate about growing TCM beyond just his patients, Chen pioneered how acupuncture and traditional medicine are taught in Canada. He was the first to develop effective online TCM learning and was offering it to students before COVID. He also reinvented the practical and coursework to allow more inclusivity among students.
“The greatest thing about TCM is that it’s really a medicine for the people. A systematic way of teaching students how they can use their own body and naturally occurring substances to stay healthy. For many people, when Western Medicine didn’t have an answer, Eastern Medicine gave them a second chance at life, and I wanted to make sure that students who realized this late were able to give their career a second chance too,” explains Chen.
Chen’s students range from military veterans to single moms to doctors from other countries. By allowing students to learn online and balance school with a full-time job, the school was able to teach hundreds of new practitioners.
“My goal was to enhance the student experience by focusing less on memorization and more on work placements with hands-on experience. The academic portion can be taught more effectively in a hybrid setting instead of classroom.” Chen says. “Many of our students come to healthcare as their second career because it’s their chance at finding themselves. Usually, your first career out of school is simply for the money. The second career you go into because you love it. A lot of our students need that flexibility to be able to learn from home and continue at their current job before they can get to their passion job.”
Traditional Chinese medicine popularity is beginning to surge in mainstream society in Canada and the United States, Ravee Chen says. These are concepts and ideas that have been around for centuries, and the misconception is that all medical innovation should come from science and the future. He mentioned that in 2015, the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was won by Tu Youyou for the discovery of a herb extraction method she found in medical texts over 2000 years old. He states that there are a lot of existing innovations in nature that have been forgotten or overlooked.
According to Chen, “There is no financial incentive for Big Pharma to do the research into natural medicine because you can’t patent and capitalize on it. I want to reintroduce natural healthcare in a modern way.”
Chen sees attitudes changing for the better as people realize that many foods can be functional for health effects as well as for their taste and nutrition. He points out that this knowledge has been prevalent in Asia for centuries. However it happens, Ravee Chen is glad that the future of nutrition is catching up to TCM in many ways.
“If you think that food’s only purpose is taste or nutrition, and only pharmaceuticals are medicine, then dishes can only be tasty or good for you and the only help for your sickness is a pill. I think that is still such a limited view on healthcare. I am friends with an amazing chef, @zoeyxinyigong, from New York who, like me, is really trying to shift the paradigm. If you view and look at bioactive ingredients in your dish you realize that food is medicine too. It’s medicine that doesn’t have side effects, is budget-friendly, and can be accessible to all,” says Chen.
“A big reason I didn’t go into Western medicine is the way the current system is set up,” Chen says. “In family medicine, the more patients you see, the more money you make. It’s not incentivizing the right KPIs, which are the success rate of your patients and your quality of care. I’m not saying all or even most doctors or physicians are like this. But there is a strain on the system that can’t be met, and overall, it’s a pure numbers game.”
Ravee Chen says that one crucial viewpoint he has noticed is that people are still very reluctant to take care of their health if it comes at a cost to their enjoyment or convenience. North Americans will order salad at a steakhouse but refuse not to go to steakhouses.
Chen says, “People want a one-pill-fix-all solution but don’t want the negative health side effects. Most existing supplements fail to understand the demands of the consumer. There currently isn’t any company focusing on making healthy, convenient, and tasty options, but I want to start one, almost like a Nespresso for supplements.”
Chen stands out in the entrepreneurial landscape for his commitment to consumer health and innovation in the health and wellness sector. Chen and his team’s unique background is set to change the consumer health market as well. You can follow the launch of his supplement brand here.