Acupuncture originated in China some 3500 years ago and is one of the oldest, commonly used systems of healing in the world. There are countless systems of of acupuncture, developed in many different parts of the world. I have studied numerous methods in my 30 plus years practicing this ancient art and science. And while I incorporate ideas from many of these systems into my practice, my primary methodology is a unique, Japanese style of acupuncture based on the work of Dr Kyoshi Nagano and Kiiko Matsumoto.
Palpatory techniques have been used for hundreds of years in Japan as a primary diagnostic tool. Western medicine has a rich lineage in palpatory diagnosis. However, as medicine has grown to rely more heavily on laboratory testing and imaging, this art form has lost much of its power and subtlety. Yet, palpatory diagnosis can be an extremely accurate tool for assessing and treating countless disorders.
In the 1950’s, Dr Nagano expanded and refined classical palpatory techniques to encompass physiology and pathology. His student, Kiiko Matsumoto has continued to explore and expand these methods. The resulting palpatory maps include precise areas in the abdomen, chest, neck and back that reflect specific conditions.
This palpation method yields invaluable information on the function of all the organs and systems in the body including:
- The nervous system and brain
- The endocrine system and hormonal balance
- Blood sugar balance and maintenance
- The immune system
- Digestion and elimination
- The respiratory system
- The Heart and circulatory system
Even emotional conditions, including anxiety, worry and sadness will reflect on specific areas of the abdomen, chest and neck and their relationship with physiological functions can be examined.
In my exam, I use light pressure on each of these reflexes, systematically evaluating the entire system. Pressure pain in any of these areas is used to both diagnose the underlying cause(s) of the patient’s chief complaint(s) and to determine effective treatment points.
While pressing on a painful reflex, I press on an associated acupuncture point. When I find an effective point, the pain in the reflex will be dramatically reduced or totally eliminated. Moving my finger contact on the proposed treatment point even a fraction of an inch or changing the directionality of the pressure can make a profound difference in the results.
This is amazing, but what is even more interesting, is that a correctly chosen acupuncture point can release most or all of the painful reflexes in the body. For example, if an adrenal imbalance is a critical health factor, an acupuncture point benefitting the adrenal glands can also release pain and spasm in the TMJ, tension in the neck, pain in the digestive organs and more.
What makes this work so powerful and effective, is that we can obtain instant feedback to determine the root level imbalances that clear all the painful reflexes in the body. We can then treat the underlying causes of health conditions rather than just the symptoms. In this way, acupuncture is utilized in the most effective manner possible and lasting resolution of complaints can take place.
Releasing Past Injuries and Patterns
Another key component in this work is clearing past injuries and illnesses that still have a hold on the body. We have discovered that there is a definitive correlation between past issues and present conditions. A thorough medical history including physical and emotional traumas, illnesses and surgeries, charted from birth to the present is essential to revealing underlying root issues.
Toxic exposures, vaccination reactions, inherited predispositions, head traumas, childhood illnesses, for example, can hold the key for unlocking and resolving present-day complaints.
This information is crucial to our examination and making sense of the information the reflexes yield. Our goal in acupuncture is to make every needle count. It is not to treat every painful reflex individually. To accomplish this, we need to look to the past and explore its relation to present conditions. When we discover the root issues, often related to the earliest injuries to the body, the present complaints can be more effectively and efficiently treated.
Why Does Acupuncture Work?
While all the mechanisms and pathways activated by an acupuncture treatment are not fully understood, here are some of the current thoughts of the National Institutes of Health on the manner by which acupuncture produces beneficial health results.
Many studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses. These responses can occur locally, that is at or near the site of needle insertion or at a distance, mediated mainly by sensory neurons activating structures within the central nervous system and brain.
Considerable evidence supports the claim that opioid peptides are released during acupuncture that have an analgesic (or pain-relieving) effect. Stimulation by acupuncture is believed to activate the hypothalamus and pituitary gland resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects. Other documented effects of acupuncture include an alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and changes in the regulation of blood flow.
While none of this fully explains why acupuncture can be so effective in treating a wide range of conditions, it gives us an idea of the mechanisms at play with the insertion of the acupuncture needle, most of which are nowhere near the condition being treated.
What Should I Expect/Does it Hurt?
Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin and are not designed to cut the skin. Insertion is generally quite shallow, generally one half inch or less, depending on the location of the insertion and the type of treatment being performed.
Generally, patients experience minimal discomfort with my technique.
After insertion, you will lay quietly for 25-40 minutes. Most patients feel deeply relaxed during the treatment with many falling into a deep and relaxing sleep.