You have become an acupuncturist and are busy gaining experience. The insertion of needles into clients may or may no longer be challenging. What about the client’s response to being pricked with a needle? My experience in the past was that those who were disassociated with their bodies never felt a thing, those who were in connection with their bodies accepted it as a necessary experience. And many others with the expectation that it would hurt would be agitated and anxious.
To state whether acupuncture or acupressure is more effective is, unfortunately, not an easy answer. For a start, how do we know that the acupuncture points (acu. Pts) are the right ones for that particular individual at that moment in time? How do we know whether there needs to be tonification, sedation and or moxibustion?
You would reasonably answer that from pulse taking, observation of colour, sound, emotions, syndromes, etc, there are proscribed possibilities on which to make an informed decision.
The complications with making an effective assessment arise in part because the majorities of illnesses that clients come with are the result of eating the wrong foods and, or, medication.
Let me share a case in point. As a young vegetarian who loved too many cakes. I developed fatty liver disease very early on in my life. Unfortunately, as a result of a disastrous emotional experience to do with having to leave my little boy behind, I was so grief-stricken that muscle spasms in my lower back almost incapacitated me for many years.
5 Element Acupuncture
I went to an acupuncturist in Leamington Spa 35 years ago who was a teacher as well as a practitioner of 5 Element Acupuncture who had been recommended to me.
His diagnosis was that I had problems with my liver as an emotional underpinning. In his very first treatment, he tonified KID -24 Spirit Burial Ground. The effect of this point on me had such a profound emotional impact that there, and then, I decided to train to be a 5 Element Acupuncturist.
However, It was downhill from then on, for the more he tonified my Liver meridian the worse my back went. Finally, in confusion he arranged for me to see his father-in-law the highest authority there was in 5 Element at the time, and he concurred. My colour, sound, odour, emotion? They all pointed to the Liver. For the next seven years, I went from one Master of 5 Elements to the next, all treated me on the same basis, and my back got worse and worse. And by now, so was my liver!
So their diagnosis on the surface appeared accurate, and they tried to ‘fix’ what they assumed to be an emotional imbalance that in hindsight turned out to be physical as a result of the wrong diet. Yes, there was a deep-seated emotional element however, this was overshadowed by my physical (food-generated) damage.
The more they worked on my liver the more they disrupted it and the more symptoms of liver imbalance manifested, it became a catch-22. And they could no longer see the wood for the trees.
Let me add at this point that the resolution to suppressed emotions is to facilitate their experience. Having said that, some sedating on my Large intestine and small intestine might have done me more good at the time. We will never know.
Let me share a more recent example.
A client came to me with gout, he had been prescribed Western medication for a few years, for gout and high B.P. , subsequently they added Stomach medication because his digestion was being impaired by the rest of the medication.
I correctly diagnosed that his major problem arose from gluten damage to his intestines, leaky gut and eating way too much oxalic acid such as rhubarb and spinach. On top of this, he had become type two diabetic, with discolouration on his shins and profundity of tags on his upper body and neck. He also had long-term fungal infections on his toes. With guidance, he altered his diet and with some trepidation, he gave up the stomach and gout medication.
A few months later he had a little rhubarb pie and the gout immediately came back on his big toe. He learned his lesson. He is now on the straight and narrow, his diabetic symptoms are disappearing, he has lost a few stones in weight and is now very physically active. Yes, I have supported his journey with acupressure, but the initial physical problems needed to be accurately assessed.
I don’t wish to throw the baby out with the bath water, for J. R (5 Elements) having trained as an Osteopath had acquired an essential insight as well as the right summation.
1. The relationship between emotions and structural misalignment
2. That we carry deep trauma, and healing ultimately depends on the release of such emotional pain.
3. To get back to being healthy requires the body to move backwards towards initial structural integrity, one step at a time. He labelled it a healing crisis (a much-misunderstood term, unfortunately).
And he encapsulated this idea under the concept of the Causative Factor (C.F.) The idea is of a core relationship between emotions and meridians (elements). And how one could be trained via observation of colour, sound, odour, and perceived emotions to an accurate? diagnosis of the C.F. with which to, via the use of Acupuncture, to treat the ‘spirit’ of the individual.
Finding the underlying cause C.F. as well as the appropriate points is most challenging within the 5 Elements system, especially if there are other causes creating illness of which we are unaware of.
In my early days, I used to go to monthly meetings with other 5 element Acu. and disturbingly, invariably, the most common discussion revolved around “What is the C.F. of my client so that I may treat him/her accurately”. I noted at the time their self-delusion at trying to make their learnt theory work. How their client’s C.F. would change from one meeting to the next as they searched for the magic bullet with which to magically begin to heal their clients.
Of course, J.R. Taught that there were three levels ie. Elements within. So the picture is not that straightforward.
One could argue those are the challenges for a 5 Element acupuncturist, even before coming to the issue of what is the best method of delivery to help a client. Acupuncture or Acupressure?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.)
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) have different hurdles to navigate. If you go to Face book under Acupuncture you will encounter acupuncture for facial beauty, reproductive health, healing the brain, as well as graduates seeking specific point combinations for all manner of pain relief, structural, as well as digestive symptoms.
As with 5 Elements, I don’t wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not everyone is truly ready to deal with the underlying causes and reason for their illness, and there are tried and tested point combinations that do work for certain people to give relief.
The same dilemma arises, though. Most illnesses in human beings are the result of wrong diets, drinks, and drugs, Western or otherwise, in which case, neither acupuncture or herbs will sort out the client’s ill’s unless they change their life style.
Emotions, the fascia and structure
It is fair to say that unexpressed emotions somatise in the muscles of the body. The fascia, is a flexible and fluid pliable collection of sheaths that envelops all muscles, bones, organs, and glands. Chronic muscular tension will, as a result of lack of movement, make the fascia envelope in that particular location dry and rigid. Because the whole body is one, contraction in one set of muscles will create over-stretching elsewhere in some other fascia/muscles/tissue.
Because muscles attached to bones, and facia go hand in hand, there will be structural misalignment that will pinch on nerves, distort the structure of internal organs and glands, misalign bones not just in the body but in the cranium. We call that personality. If you are an observant person you will note the peculiarities, of people’s gait, chest shoulders, neck alignment, hips etc.,
It is these misalignments, deeply ingrained, that over long periods of time are, apart from diet, what makes us physically incapacitated in one way or another.
The human body contains twenty-six fascia channels that for the sake of explanation we could think of as very long and somewhat large rubber ropes, each of which contains and surrounds numerous muscles, organs, and glands along its length. We call these the Meridians.
Whilst the lengths of fascia stand on their own, they always connect at the ends with other facia strands so that contraction in one will create over extension in another.
We are used to thinking of the human body standing up by itself, the reality is that we have 13 opposing fascias pulling equally in opposite directions to maintain a relative balance with each other. For example, Large intestine and Stomach, Spleen and Heart. I appreciate that the Stomach and Spleen share the same element of Earth, but they don’t form a bond of opposites. The same is true for the other Yang versus Yin organs.
The human body from childhood onwards will have many emotionally disturbing moments when various muscles in one or more fascia will contract. If the muscular tension becomes chronic, after a while the enveloping fascia due to lack of fluid movement rigidifies, even though the muscles may eventually relax. This has a knock on effect not just on opposing fascia but the overall bone alignment of the human body.
Our bodies are amazing machines, they roll with the punches and compensate, when the fascia twists our anatomy, the spine will find a new balance within the imbalanced structure. Why am I belabouring this point? Because true healing can only come when we unwind the clock backwards in the correct sequence. If you tonify or sedate points on one Meridian, there will be compensatory knock on effects on the overall, already misaligned structure.
If you are just treating symptoms or, have misunderstood the C.F or its level, you are just as likely to distort the structure even more if you are not on the right meridian. What is more, the assumption that you would automatically needle both sides of the body is erroneous. For perhaps only the left side meridian needs tweaking, or vice versa!
Mental disturbance affect the meridians on the right and emotional ones on the left.
True healing requires, releasing, the emotional as well as mental backlog at the pace to which the client is capable. In the process, realigning, the cranium, releasing muscular tensions, and tweaking the appropriate acupuncture points at any given moment in time to help to release the fascia. Quite apart from appropriate diet for that individual.
Of course, what I have just described is not sexy for the majority of people who have been seduced by a quick fix by Western Medicine. Well, that is the theory because in practice, Western medicine seldom delivers the goods. What begins as two bottles of tablets ends up after a few years as a cupboard full of medication, as well as the odd operation here and there.
Acupuncture has been handed down to us across the millennia as a tool to connect with spirit by freeing up the blockages that stop us from being in our hearts. Instead, It has gone the way of all mainstream religions, where rules and dogma are used by the fearful as a quick fix. Today Acupuncture is used by medical doctors, osteopaths and masseurs, (dry needling). Electrical machines to affect acu. pts. with instructions are sold for the average customer to help with pain relief. It is not a stretch to say that Acupuncture has become a panacea for the masses.
Many years back I went to a masseur who in my ignorance said to her “you are the expert in massage, do what you consider necessary”. Towards the end of the session, whilst I was lying face down, she zapped me with a piezo electric gadget across many of my acupuncture points in my upper back before I had a chance of stopping her. The result was a physical destabilization of my spine, and my left wrist, that lasted for over a month.
5 years back I went to a physiotherapist who massaged GB-21 on my left hip for about ten minutes, had lower back pain for one month afterwards.
When I contemplate Acupuncturists’ need for a selection of point to fix this that or the other, it reminds me of the story of Jesus in the temple with the moneylenders and goods sellers. They had misappropriated the temple for ordinary affairs. It is written Jesus was so incensed that he allegedly up turned the tables, threw their goods on the floor as he berated them for their crash insensitivity.
We call ourselves, Alternative Therapists, but all we have done is change drugs for needles.
And I appreciate that people are in pain and in need, and will turn anywhere for relief.
A new vision for Effective Acupuncture / Acupressure
Let me share a different vision, the human body is the temple that is designed to worship spirit. That means rising beyond the limitations of ego to our hearts. You could describe it as growing our awareness, raising our level of consciousness by clearing the backlog of unexpressed emotions, modern day poisons such as pharmaceuticals, and processed foods, as well as uninformed treatments that hold us back.
So in my opinion both 5 element and TCM have serious challenges to effective treatment, For in our desire to help we might well assuage a symptom like drugs will do. Yet like drugs there are inevitably side effects for we are not dealing with the causes.
You might well say, How else can we help people apart from the information handed down to us via books for hundreds of years as much as the experience of our teachers?
Today, in this World we are collectively rasing our consciousness and understanding, and we need a new form of healing to help those who are ready.
I appreciate that most of my words will fall on deaf ears, for understanding requires experience. But there is a much better way of working with clients who are ready, and these are increasing exponentially. I refer to the use of Kinesiology (muscle testing) to diagnose what the client needs. This is based on the appreciation that inside each of us resides intelligence that knows precisely what we require at any given moment in time.
I could tell you more, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Le me show you with this video instead?
Finally, if you haven’t guessed it yet? 🙂 In this bureaucratic times, using needles has a lot of health and safety red tape. And how do you know that inserting a needle is necessary anyway? I know, It is how we have been taught.
Yes, it is true that inserting a needle will twist the fascia fibres and create a pull. On the other hand, Acupressure works at the bioelectrical level. The effect can be much more pronounced, especially when we are on the right point for the body. I have often generated emotional release with acupressure in clients and I regularly feel the electrical crackle between my finger and the acupuncture point, even with garments in between.
Let me suggest as someone who has been using acupressure for nearly 15 yrs. That it is quicker, more elegant, more gentle on the client and as long as you are connecting with the right point for that client way more powerful. Bonus point – the client does not need to take clothes off!