What is acupuncture?
A 5,000 year old Chinese system of natural healing (no drugs — no surgery) which is concerned with restoring proper energy flow to the various organs, glands and tissues of the body on the premise that most diseases are the result of malfunction due to disrupted energetics.
Explanation: The Chinese definition of Health is "All parts of the body functioning normally," all 400 trillion parts. If there is interuption in the transmission of energy flow or life force (called ch'i in Chinese), then organ malfunction, disease, pain and suffering are inevitable.
Q. Where does this interruption of energy flow occur?
A. In either or both of two locations: (1) In the channels of energy flow, which are called meridians, located throughout the body just beneath the skin surface; (2) In the spinal column where vertebrae may become misaligned, thereby compressing vital nerve trunks.
Q. Are there other causes of disease besides interference with transmission
of energy flow?
A. Yes, of course. Psychosomatic states, hereditary factors, poisons, adverse
environmental conditions, injury, germs, malnutrition, etc., are all disease producing.
CHIROPRACTIC REMOVES THE OBSTRUCTION TO THE FLOW OF LIFE FORCE AT THE SPINE.
ACUPUNCTURE REGULATES THE FLOW OF LIFE FORCE THROUGH OUT THE BODY. EVERY DOCTOR NEEDS TO LEARN ACUPUNCTURE IN ORDER TO BE A BETTER DOCTOR.
Q. How is this disturbance in energy flow detected in the patient?
A. By many methods, including certain signs, symptoms, pain spots, organ
reflex points, meridian reflex points, and by pulse or instrument findings.
3. Assuming I'm going to take acupuncture treatments, how are they performed?
A. First the related skin points are determined. Then they are appropriately
treated by any one of over thirty methods of stimulation, some of which are: 1) Long needle insertion (especially done in acupuncture anaesthesia for surgery); 2) Short needle penetration; 3) Non-piercing needles; 4) Finger tip pressure (called shishin or "finger needles"}; 5) Metal lie balls taped to the points; 6i Electrical stimulation ; 7) Moxabustion (the burning of herbs over the points).
Note: the non-piercing needle (teishfn) is very popular because the technique is practically painless, there is no blood, no danger of infection and results are equal to, if not better than, other techniques.
Q. What are some of the conditions commonly treated by acupuncture?
A. Textbook listed conditions run into the hundreds. Typical ailments usually
responding to acupuncture health care include neuralgias, headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, tics, spasms, muscular shoulders and arm, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, ulcers, rheumatism, neuralgia of the stomach problems, diarrhea, hepatitis, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, coughs, certain types of heart trouble, abnormal blood pressures, hemorrhoids, lumbago, bladder irritation, bed wetting, certain kidney problems, female disorders, impotence, glaucoma (sometimes), weak eyesight, hay fever, loss of smell, tonsillitis, loss of hearing, skin conditions, and
even nervous and psychiatric factors based on the fact that often mental
problems arise from physical disorders.
The above list may seem long as though acupuncture were a Panacea.
The truth is that most text books list over two hundred diseases. Please be
mindful of the fact that acupuncture is not like one drug used for one condition but on the contrary is a complete healing art within itself, concerned with the systems of the body such as nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, eliminatory, reproductive, hormonal, musculoskeletal, etc., and seeks to correct health problems within those systems.
Q. Out of, say, 10 patients accepted for acupuncture health care, how many usually respond favorably?
A. On the average, 8. 2 out of 10 fail to respond satisfactorily for a variety of
reasons. Advanced age, severity of the condition, irreversible tissue damage, etc., are deterrents to recovery.
Q. Are spinal adjusting treatments necessary with acupuncture?
A. Absolutely. Spinal adjusting is part of acupuncture health care. World
authorities, including Felix Mann, M.D., of England; Paul Nogier, M.D., of France; and Kunzo Nagayama, M.D., of Japan are very emphatic on this aspect of "getting well." Dr. Mann states that many internal diseases are cured by the spinal adjustments alone. Leaving the adjustment (chiropractic) out of the treatment plan invites failure.
Q- Does acupuncture have another name?
A. Yes. In fact the word acupuncture is incorrect because it implies needles
only. The proper wording is " Meridian Therapy", or Ching Lo Chi Liao
in Chinese. It was named "acupuncture" in the 16th century by
Portugese sailors who knew no better. The wrong name stuck.
Q. In America, what kind of doctor should one go to for this type of
A. Any doctor, (chiropractor, medical or osteopath) who has had the proper training.
Any doctor who has not had proper training is pretending to know something he does not, and by that definition is a quack. Just because a man happens to have a chiropractic, medical or osteopathic degree does not mean he is qualified to do acupuncture. If he engages in practice anyhow, he is guilty of acupuncture malpractice. He must receive qualified training and pass exams to certify competence. This protects the public.
In acupuncture (Meridian Therapy) are there other important factors beside skin point stimulation and vertebral adjusting?
Yes, there are four laws to obey for those who desire health and longevity:
1) Proper nutrition; 2) Adequate rest; 3) Moderate exercise; 4) A positive
THE ORIENTAL DOCTOR ASKS HIS PATIENT ON HIS VERY FIRST VISIT A
THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTION WHICH IS, "HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?".
AFTER SOME DELIBERATION THE USUAL REPLY IS, "AS LONG AS I HAVE MY HEALTH TO ENJOY LIFE."
The doctor then reminds the patient he must meet his responsibilities to his own health and that of his loved ones by obeying the above four laws and by receiving regular healthcare, the purpose of which is to prevent disease in the first place.
American patients say the healing power of acupuncture is a miracle. The Chinese say there are no miracles, just unknown laws at work . . . (unknown only to Western man as acupuncture dates back past the Stone Age in Asia.)
Acupuncture or Meridian Therapy: Are They the Same?
The word acupuncture (from the Latin acus [needle] and punctio [puncture] has been a part of language for at least 600 years. The first Europeans to describe acupuncture were Jesuit missionaries, silk merchants, and mariners.
Acupuncture came to America with the Chinese immigrants who migrated to build the ever-expanding railway system. While acupuncture for the most part stayed within the Chinese community, historians have suggested that acupuncture was used on infrequent occasions on early settlers in life threatening or grave situations. In Europe the art of acupuncture had been practiced in a variety of forms and had become an accepted and respected folk art by the mid 1800s. In the Mid East, acupuncture was well known and in common use. D.D. Palmer's historic 1910 book The Art and Science of Chiropractic, better known as The Chiropractic Adjustor, devotes a full page to "Queer notions of the Chinese" in which the term acupuncture is named. The word acupuncture would not surface again with popularity in the United States until President Richard Nixon's delegation to China in 1972 when the press reported on its use. Numerous early chiropractic and osteopathic techniques were taken specifically from the techniques of acupuncture. However, their description was described as manual technique with no mention or credit given to the ancient principles of Chinese acupuncture. Today 23 states allow the use of acupuncture by chiropractic physicians, either through scope of practice, or by special certification. Several states have ignored the acupuncture issue by not taking a stance. In the remaining states, even though acupuncture may not be allowed to be practiced through the historic use of needles, "meridian therapy" is commonplace and accepted. So what is the difference between acupuncture and meridian therapy? In actuality, there is none. It must be understood that just like chiropractic, acupuncture is a principle not a technique. Classically and according to state law, acupuncture generally speaking is the administration of needles to a specific body location for the relief of pain or the balancing of body energies. The definition of acupuncture also includes (for those only practicing acupuncture and not licensed as another healing art) mechanical, electrical, thermal and manual stimulation of a specific area of the skin. As chiropractic physicians practice their usual and customary treatment, many of the techniques we apply have their origin ingrained in ancient Chinese principles. Hence, ultrasound is a prime example of the stimulation of a grouping of specific acupoints which is classically known as "surround the dragon." In the technique known as surround or circle the dragon, one simply applies stimulation to those points on or around a painful body part. By taking a quartz crystal and vibrating it at a high rate of speed, it becomes one of the most notable stimulation devices for the treatment of an acupoint ever devised. Electrical stimulation has been a vital part of the chiropractic physicians armamentarium for as long as its invention. Electrical stimulation to skin points and areas has proved its merit and is an accepted fact of life within the scientific community. Since our scope of practice, with very few exceptions, allows for heat, light, water, sound, electricity etc., it no longer becomes a matter of if we can apply meridian therapy, the matter is where, when, how, and why. It is the principle of acupuncture which is important not necessarily how that principle is delivered. Even noting the fact that needle stimulation has an incredible rate of response and classically it is how most people perceive the use of acupuncture, all of the aforementioned techniques are not only accepted internationally but also historically. If given a choice of what technique is to be employed I think it is safe to assume the vast majority of patients would eagerly choose a noninvasive approach. Remember, acupuncture is a principle not a technique, and there is no difference between meridian therapy and acupuncture outside of the mode of stimulation. The principle remains the same. We are on the threshold of an unprecedented growth in alternative healing especially now that the first of the "baby boomers" turn 50 next year. It behooves you to understand acupuncture/meridian therapy and to apply it in your practice. To not understand this most vital healing art is to ignore one of the most popular methods of health to be seen in the 21st Century. Nearly every state allows for physical therapeutics to be used outside of adjusting of the spine. In essence nearly every state allows for noninvasive acupuncture. Acupuncture and meridian therapy are exactly the same thing in philosophy, principle and academia, the only difference is technique.
John Amaro, DC, FIACA, Dipl.Ac. Carefree, Arizona DC
The Modalities of Acupuncture
Perhaps two of the most frequently asked questions about the practice of acupuncture is simply put, "Do the needles hurt?" and "Are there any other ways to perform the procedure?" To the first question, "yes" and "no." The needles generally create a mosquito bite sensation when inserted and will produce a noticeable discomfort when "teh chi" is achieved. This sensation should accompany all needle insertions as achieving "teh chi" is the goal of a properly placed and stimulated needle. Even though the actual insertion of a needle is certainly not painful, the sensation of "teh chi" can be quite uncomfortable.
To the second question, "Are there any other ways to perform the procedure without the use of needles?" A firm and definite "yes" is in order.
As I have pointed out throughout this column, needles are one of many forms of acupuncture, generally referred to as meridian therapy when needles are not employed; nonetheless, stimulation of the acupoint (reflex point) may be successfully carried out by a variety of means.
The critics say "no way" but practitioners who have employed alternative methods know all too well the marvelous results obtained by non-penetrating modalities. Even though I will be the first to agree that by and large needles are perhaps the highest form of acupuncture, the non-piercing methods run a very close second and in some cases, equal response to the needle. The most common forms of stimulation in order of response are he/ne laser or light-emitting diode red-light stimulation, electronic stimulation, and teishein. One of my favorite forms of non-invasive stimulation is, and has always been, the "pressure needles" (teishein). This device is simply struck on the patient's skin with 20-25 light tapping strokes. It is one of the nine ancient forms of acupuncture and is still employed with much enthusiasm in hospitals, clinics, and institutes around the world. In personal treatment of myself, I usually find myself using the teishein more often than any other modality. Laser or more recently red light-emitting diode has received considerable attention internationally and is being used in some of the most noticeable institutes in the People's Republic of China as well as the majority of the Eastern bloc nations, Europe, Soviet Union, and America.
Interestingly enough, it is now being discovered there is not something magical about the laser that produces the incredible results but that it operates in the red spectral range. Serious research is under way to establish the relationship between red light and the functioning of the human body.
Electronic stimulation runs from microstimulation to milliamp stimulation, with both camps absolutely positive their form is the best. Frankly, in my 20 years of practice, I have had outstanding results with both forms of electronic stimulation. The dye-in-the-wool microstimulation advocates are quick to point out microstim has no equal, but the truth be known, I have had some pretty amazing results with a car key rubbed over the point. I am more than half way convinced stimulation is stimulation and even ballpoint pens and car keys can produce amazing results, not to mention the human touch. In rating modalities of acupuncture, be sure you place the Activator instrument high up on the list. Many practitioners throughout the world have reported incredible results with percussion of the acupoint with Activator. The first and most important thing in acupuncture is where to treat; how you treat is often of secondary importance.
John A. Amaro, D.C., F.I.A.C.A., DIPL.AC.
An Historical Perspective of Acupuncture
Throughout the study of acupuncture, one of the situations we will encounter on our journey will be references to a vast variety of physicians, emperors, authors, masters, teachers and others who contributed greatly by way of manuscripts, books, poems, stories, treatises, observations, collections, writings and developments of this incredible healing art. During our studies we'll see reference to various dynasties of Chinese history as a framework from whence this work came. The name of the dynasty tells us the time from where a particular procedure or book was produced. To better appreciate the history of acupuncture, the Chinese dynasties are extremely important to know.
Early Civilization 15000 -- 4000 BC
Xia Dynasty 2000 -- 1500 BC
Shang Dynasty 1500 -- 1000 BC
Western Zhou Dynasty 1000 -- 771 BC
Eastern Zhou Dynasty 770 -- 256 BC
Spring and Autumn Period 677 -- 476 BC
Warring States Period 475 -- 221 BC
Qin Dynasty 220 -- 207 BC
Han Dynasty 206 BC -- 220 AD
Three Kingdoms 220 -- 280 AD
Western Jin Dynasty 267 -- 316 AD
Eastern Jin Dynasty 317 -- 420 AD
Northern and Southern Dynasties 420 -- 581 AD
Sui Dynasty 581 -- 618 AD
Tang Dynasty 618 -- 907 AD
Five Dynasties 908 -- 960 AD
Song Dynasty 960 -- 1279 AD
Liao Dynasty 915 -- 1125 AD
Yuan and Jin Dynasties 1115 -- 1368 AD
Ming Dynasty 1368 -- 1644 AD
Qing Dynasty 1644 -- 1911 AD
Each dynasty greatly contributed to the development of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, except the Qin dynasty, which only lasted 14 years; no specific development was known to come from this time frame. During the 800 year reign of the Zhou dynasty, some of the most specific discoveries of Chinese medicine were made to include the theoretical foundations of yin and yang, the five elements, the pathogenic factors of external environment as a cause of disease and further understanding of the meridians of acupuncture. The basic theories of acupuncture were established and stone needles became obsolete, being replaced by metal needles.
During this same time period (Zhou dynasty 1000-221 BC), three of the most significant books on Chinese medicine were written: the Huang Ti Nei Jjing (The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), the Su Wen (Essential Questions) and the Ling Shu (The Miraculous Pivot). Even though these books were written during the Zhou dynasty, their content dates back to approximately 2500 BC during the reign of the legendary emperor Huang Ti.
The Su Wen was written over a period of over 1,500 years. It originally consisted of nine volumes containing 81 sections, consisting of anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, pathology, prevention and treatment of disease and the theories of yin and yang and the five elements. The Ling Shu provides detailed descriptions of the meridians, theories and applications. It is referred to as the Zheng Jing (The Classic of Acupuncture). Its authors are unknown. It was not until approximately 400 BC that pulse diagnosis was first used in Chinese medicine. This method of diagnosis is attributed to Qin Ren Yue, who was referred to as the "emperor of medicine." His clinical successes were legendary. During the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), the book Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Febrile Disorders) was written. It is still used to this day as a standard reference work for traditional Chinese medicine, including moxibustion, needling and herbal medicine.
In approximately 300 AD, Wang Xi wrote the book Mai Jing (The Classic of the Pulse). The technique of pulse diagnosis was systematized during this period and the principles of tonification, sedation, moxibustion, meridians, eight extraordinary channels and forbidden points were established. At the time of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), the first color acupuncture charts of the meridians were created. This effort was by Sun Si Miao, who used six different colors of ink for their creation. In the year 659, the emperor Gao Zong ordered a review of traditional herbal medicine by Su Jing and a staff of 22 scholars to create the first oficial pharmacopeia of Chinese medicine. One of the great events of acupuncture occurred in 1027 AD during the Song dynasty, when Wang Wei Yi designed and casted the two life size bronze statures of the acupuncture meridians and points. This accomplishment standardized the teaching of acupuncture point location.
It wasn't until approximately 1300 AD during the Yuan and Jin dynasty that the first mention of midday-midnight circulation was recorded. Hundreds of discoveries, explanations and theories would develop during this time and the Ming and Qing dynasties, not to mention the myriad of discoveries which were attributed to the 20th century. Literally thousands of books spanning 7,500 years of collected knowledge have created our current understanding of Chinese medicine, including herbal therapy, acupuncture and diagnosis. The history of Chinese medicine is absolutely fascinating. I invite anyone reading this article to delve further into the history of this fascinating healing art: "For in our history, we will find our future!" You are about to embark on a fascinating journey.
John A. Amaro DC, FIACA, Dipl. Ac.