Chinese Medicine (CM) suggests that the root of all disease lies in separation from the Tao, which occurs when Yin and Yang differentiate. Chong Mai–focused acupuncture can theoretically address this level, but an adjusted therapeutic approach could be necessary to produce the best results. In this article, the author explores some context and needling strategies used to work effectively with the Chong Mai in a unique way.
The incidence of complex chronic health conditions is rising. Some of these conditions might have their roots in gut disturbances, which in Chinese Medicine would be categorized as Spleen and Stomach Qi Disharmonies. In this article, the author explores these issues from an integrative perspective and suggests areas where acu- puncture techniques could be helpful. Five cases are described briefly to illustrate the use of acupuncture.
The relationship between dopamine and Parkinson’s disease is well-known. What is perhaps less appreciated is the role of dopamine in other common conditions and the increasing use of dopamine-regulating drugs to treat them.
Although the therapeutic encounter is imbued with ritual, conventional medicine tends to minimize ritual’s significance, while acupuncture practitioners often try to cultivate it.
Benzodiazepines are widely used medications, but, unfortunately, dependence is common. This article explores the energetic impact of these anxiolytics, using side-effect profiles and the impressions of practitioners. Given that anxiety is essentially an energetic phenomenon, acupuncture can offer a creative alternative for suitable patients. Four cases are described briefly to illustrate the use of acupuncture.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease involving chronic inflammation of the joints. Conventional treatment often involves the early use of DMARDS, many of which have potentially toxic side-effects. For some patients, acupuncture may offer a creative alternative. Drawing from theory and personal experience, the authors suggest that an integrated approach, including acupuncture, functional and other energetic approaches, can occasionally reverse the disease process.
Many practitioners would agree that randomized trials, suitable as they are for drug and device research, are inadequate and inappropriate for acupuncture and other interactional therapies. Acupuncture organizations carry on paying lip service to trials that many members suspect are meaningless. In the past I have argued that the acupuncture community should let go of trying to meet inappropriate research requirements and move on. But what should be put in their place? And what might constitute convincing evidence for a front-line practitioner?
Conventional cancer treatment generally focuses on surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, while holistic therapies such as acupuncture are considered adjunctive or even nonessential. Yet, a consideration of the energetic ramifications of cancer might suggest a more central role for such alternatives. This article explores some of the issues surrounding the use of acupuncture in cancer and discusses some possible protocols.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE), which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), and excessive bleeding are serious albeit rare complications of major joint surgery. Chinese Medicine would relate these phenomena to Qi/Blood stagnation and Spleen Qi deficiency, induced by effects of surgery and drugs. Drawing from acupuncture theory and personal experience, the authors suggest an energetic approach that might enhance current prevention strategies for suitable patients.
With some initial successes to fuel interest, acupuncture research in the West is increasingly at- tempting to simulate pharmaceutical and device research using sham needles and=or points as controls. But, the consensus that the randomized controlled clinical trial is an acceptable method of research for acupuncture is still far from universal.
Many patients seeking acupuncture are taking antidepressants, yet rarely do they appreciate the impact such drugs might have on the acupuncture process. In this paper, the author explores the energetic effect of antidepressants, using side-effect profiles and the impressions of other practitioners. The argument is made that antidepressants can interfere with acupuncture and can even prevent patients from getting to the root of their ill- ness.
The concept of possession, which can be difficult for physicians to accept, is a key concept in Five Element acupuncture and one associated with definitive therapeutic protocols. The author contends that the notion of possession, once stripped of its demoniacal images, is actually a common phenomenon that might better be understood as a field effect. This, in turn, might lead to more creative acupuncture strategies.
The issue of a patient’s medications can be a matter of prime concern to medical acupuncturists. In this article, I use adverse effect profiles and pulse changes to explore the energetic effects of various antihypertensives and suggest that the intentional vector behind drug treatment for hypertension may be in direct opposition to that of acupuncture. Herein, I explore this issue and discuss four commonly used classes of drugs: ß-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.
AS AN INVETERATE ARMCHAIR PHILOSOPHER steeped in medical acupuncture, I often muse about world events from an energy perspective. Chinese Medicine is capable of extraordinary insights into the human condition.
The concept of chakras is not generally considered part of the acupuncture paradigm. Yet like the acupuncture points of Chinese medicine, the chakras are energy nodes with specific functions and correlations. The author suggests that a familiarity with the chakras can be a useful adjunct to medical acupuncture, and interested practitioners can find simple ways of integrating concepts of chakras with traditional acupuncture theory.
Chronic pain and other multifactorial disorders can be challenges to the current medical paradigm. Persistent discomfort can drive patients to rely on symptom suppressants, often prescribed by a medical system that has little else to offer. If and when long-term drug dependence develops, few people realize they have entered a trap of their own making. This article presents an overview of the conundrum of chronic pain, presents one pain clinic’s strategy to facilitate an attitudinal shift, and argues that acupuncture is well placed to assist in the process.
The idea that acupuncturists might take on pathogenic energies from their patients may initially seem preposterous. Yet many practitioners will confirm that accumulation occurs and that it can lead gradually to stress and burnout. This article explores the phenomenon of patient-to-physician energy transfers and suggests strategies for proactive management.
There’s nothing quite like a catastrophic natural phenomenon, like an earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami, to prompt some serious pondering about the meaning of it all. Such events are so unexpected and shocking that they force us to ask difficult questions, regardless of whether or not we are personally affected. However, if there can be no rational response, perhaps there is a non-rational or energetic one.
There is an emerging consensus in medicine that patients should be more involved in the clinical decision-making process and that they be empowered to act as full partners with their physicians in their health care. But despite the consensus, empowerment remains an elusive goal. The author argues that this is so because the current medical paradigm is in innately disempowering, and that empowerment might better be facilitated with acupuncture through an application of Five-Element principles in the context of a transformed therapeutic relationship.
“Needle shock” is a syndrome which occurs in about 5% of acupuncture patients. It presents as general malaise, cold perspiration, nausea, and in extreme situations, loss of consciousness. Traditional teaching suggests that when it occurs needles should all be removed, the session terminated, and the client informed they might not be a good candidate for acupuncture. The author suggests that needle shock may simply be a signal for a large energy shift, and not necessarily a negative effect.
The Oriental medical concept of a Heart-mind split has no obvious counterpart in Western medicine. Patients with such a split are often labelled as anxious or depressed, and treated pharmacologically. The author contends that the omission occurs because the split is a fundamental feature of collective consciousness, and an expression of both medicine and scientific rationalism. He goes on to say that conventional treatment regimens may inadvertently exacerbate the split while in contrast, acupuncture’s holistic philosophy can offer a way to successful re-integration.
The current popularity of evidence-based medicine poses a challenge for acupuncture and other interactive therapies. This article explores the assumption of objectivity involved in gathering evidence, suggests that objectivity is an inappropriate standard for acupuncture, and concludes that where acupuncture and other interactive therapies are concerned, the objective/subjective dichotomy is perhaps transcended.
Stagnation of Qi and Blood are basic clinical patterns of Oriental Medicine, but their origin from splits in consciousness is rarely considered clinically significant. This article suggests that the root of stagnation lies in the mind’s attempt to control existential anxiety through strategies of energy containment which give rise to psychosomatic compartmentalization. The author then goes on to suggest that attention to these strategies is at least as important as any particular acupuncture protocol.
In my acupuncture practice, I am regularly witness to what appears to be an extreme split between mind and body in my clients. It seems we Westerners - as a cultural group - have a unique energetic predisposition which emphasises individuation quite a bit more than our Eastern counterpart. So while the philosophy of Oriental Medicine certainly addresses the separations of Mind/Spirit, Mind/Heart, and Mind/Body in terms of Yin and Yang, I sometimes wonder whether the ancients ever contemplated the degree to which those splits have evolved in our culture.
The process of learning medicine never quite prepares us for the reality of the clinical encounter – and we soon discover that the real patient never quite fits the textbook description. This principle applies equally well to the clinical acupuncture encounter, where we are daily confronted with the complexities of oriental diagnosis, and the limitations of point descriptions and protocols. Nevertheless, its possible to become so focused on pattern recognition, point locations, mechanisms of action, endorphins, evidence based approaches, and so on, that we can sometimes forget that another intangible principle altogether may be at work.
Six obstetrical patients with a transverse lower abdominal surgical scar were treated near term with ear acupuncture to assess whether “ear balancing” could help bring about a normal vaginal delivery. Five of the patients had a previous Caesarean section, and one had previous surgery for an ovarian cyst. The results suggest that this simple procedure could smooth out many situations involving labour and delivery, and possibly reduce the Caesarean section rate.
One hundred patients who suffered from whiplash after a motor-vehicle accident were treated in a 1-week, intensive, multidisciplinary pain program. The patients had not responded to standard therapeutic approaches for at least 4 months after the accident. The aim of the program was not so much to “kill pain” as to help the patients make a key shift in attitude, described as a “transformation.”
Twenty-five patients with whiplash syndrome following a motor-vehicle accident were treated with traditional acupuncture. The patients were mostly women, and ranged from one week to three years post accident. Most of them had twelve treatments at twice weekly intervals. Improvement was noted in 84% of patients. Observed phenomena included myoclonic shaking, emotional releases, and regression. Improvement was more likely when these phenomena occurred, suggesting that emotional blocks are of major significance in whiplash syndrome. The findings suggest that a neck injury becomes a focal point for unresolved emotional issues which existed prior to the accident. The frustrations inherent in dealing with the aftermath of a car accident lead to exacerbation of pre-existing tension patterns.
Dr. Burk has teamed up with dream expert Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos (Kat) on a marvelous follow-up, Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases, to explore the topic of how dreams can impart vital medical information.
In his book, The Active Points Test, Marcelli expands on the idea of Ashi points, suggesting that such points should be sought for routinely, and, in addition, that patients should be actively engaged in the search.
A glance at the back cover of this book reveals that few authors could be better qualified to write a definitive work on insomnia. Conventionally trained in France as a surgeon and gynecologist, Hamid Montakab, MD, has also studied acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, osteopathy, and the traditional medicines of the Philippines and India; and, in 1994, he conducted a formal scientific research study on acupuncture and insomnia. He has been refining, practicing, and teaching his knowledge ever since.
If you have ever wondered why acupuncture texts sometimes describe strange and bizarre point indications, this may be the book for you. In Acupuncture: From Symbol to Clinical Practice, Jean-Marc Kespi combines his 50 plus years of experience with a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of point indications to provide elegant point hoices for addressing practical clinical problems.
I found Let Magic Happen a challenging book to review, not only because it spans a variety of themes, but also because it is so replete with the unusual that it is impossible to do the book justice in a short precis. It is a book that just has to be read to be appreciated fully.
By Paul Hougham (Gaia Books, London, © 2006)
By Claus C. Schnorrenberger (Wisdom Publications, Boston © 2003)
Edited by Barry S. Oken (Parthenon Publishing Group, New York & London © 2003)
“On a sunny Fall day in 1983, Patricia and her husband Trevor set out on a weekend trip to Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park..... But the following morning something happened that would change their lives forever: they crossed paths with a grizzly bear.”
For physicians interested in the combination of psychiatry and Oriental Medicine (OM), Bob Flaws and James Lake MD have joined forces to produce a remarkable blend of Oriental and Western thought. Chinese Medicine and Psychiatry is detailed in scope and covers enough different diagnostic categories to satisfy the most ardent practitioner of either discipline.
Post-stroke aphasia can be devastating. Conventional treatment options are limited, and although speech therapy can be helpful, it is by no means a panacea. If acupuncture has any potential to assist patients who have aphasia, this modality would certainly be worth using it as an adjunct.
Hyperhidrosis, or excess sweating, can be a vexing problem. It may affect the feet, palms, underarms, or the whole body. In addition, the usual treatments, such as aluminium hydroxide applications and/or botulinum toxin, can prove to be less than ideal.
Benign essential blepharospasm, otherwise known as an eye twitch or tic, can be a difficult and annoying problem. Common measures — such as reducing eyestrain with tinted glasses and artificial tears or medicating a patient with antidepressants and anxiolytics — often prove to be disappointing.
Aconventional assessment of tinnitus generally in- volves checking for conditions such as hyperthyroid- ism, anemia, or jaw malalignment, ruling out drug toxicity (such as aspirin) and perhaps arranging magnetic resonance imaging to make sure there is no acoustic neuroma. Beyond that, tinnitus is not well-understood, is often associated with some dizziness, and usually attributed to nonspecific, age- related ear pathology. Treatment can be frustrating, and, in such cases, acupuncture certainly has a place.
Urinary incontinence consists of the loss of bladder control, which may be considered according to five types consisting of stress, urge, overflow, functional, and emotional/anxiety incontinence.
Using the strategy of The Four Magic Meridians as taught by Richard Te-Fu Tan, OMD, LAc, where am I going to place these three needles?
Urticaria is known as Feng Zhen Kuai (Wind rash patch) in Chinese Medicine. It comes in two varieties: acute and chronic. Acute urticaria is generally attributed to an external invasion of Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold in the context of a Wei Qi deficiency induced by Lung and/or Spleen Qi imbalance.
Apersistent dry cough is a common symptom. The usual causes include postnasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux, asthma, drugs (e.g., angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), irritants (smoking), and cancer. However, when these have been ruled out and/or treatment is unsuccessful in relieving symptoms, acupuncture is worth trying.
Tennis elbow (lateral elbow pain) has a prevalence of 1.3% with no gender predominance. The pathology is thought to be due to an overuse syndrome of the long extensor muscles of the forearm leading to a localized fasciitis or enthesopathy at lateral epicondyle where the extensor tendons insert. Tennis elbow pain was described in ancient texts of Traditional Chinese Medicine as zhou la o, which is due to repetitive injury of the tendons with stagnation of blood and excess moisture in the corresponding Large Intestine meridian.
In Chinese Medicine, carpal tunnel syndrome is thought to be due to stagnation of Qi and Blood in the wrist from invasion of Wind, Cold, or Damp, often super-imposed on a deficiency of Spleen Qi. Acupuncture is definitely worth trying since it can help patients avoid the difficulties of wrist splints, NSAIDs and steroids, and mitigate the need for surgery.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attributes diarrhea and constipation to imbalances in the Tai Yin Spleen and Yang Ming Large Intestine orbs
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, infertility is at- tributed to imbalance in the Chong Mo and Ren Mo, which in turn is generally due to a Liver disturbance such as stagnation of Qi and=or Blood.
With the popularity of drugs like sildenafil, there may be little call for acupuncture in erectile dysfunction (ED). Nevertheless, the condition can reflect a wide range of CM patterns involving the Heart, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attributes hiccups to Heat or Cold in the Stomach, Yin or Yang Deficiency in the Spleen/Stomach, and Phlegm Stagnation.
IN MY APPROACH TO treating obesity using acupuncture, I consider: (1) the removal of Phlegm, (2) balancing and harmonizing metabolism, (3) treating addictive behaviors, (4) removing excess fluids (fluid retention), (5) encouraging/instructing the patient in proper dietetics/nutrition and regular exercise, and (6) applying auricular acupuncture.
FIBROMYALGIA IS A SYNDROME that could refer to a variety of Chinese Medicine (CM) energy states ranging from Deficiency/Stagnation to excess Damp/Heat accumulation.