Acupuncture Diagnostics and Treatment Styles

The beauty of holistic medicine is that it is truly customized to each patient but also it allows each practitioner to use their knowledge and intuition to find the most appropriate treatment strategy.

In the realm of acupuncture, which is bioenergetic medicine, we have different tools that point towards correct diagnosis. There is no linear relationship between test values and a diagnosis or supplement. Instead, a practitioner works like a detective putting various pieces together from the patient’s posture, demeanor, tone of voice, skin color, tongue and most importantly the pulse.

There are 29 different pulses that a practitioner feels for and it is a very refined and subtle art to gain the best understanding of the inner organs functioning. There is also a modern tool, called Digital Meridian Imaging, aka Acugraph, which gives a visual representation to the pulses and corresponding organs. This is very important for patient education and confirmation for the practitioner.

As far as acupuncture treatments are concerned, practitioners in the US do not use the traditional Chinese method, which are relatively thick and rough needles which can be re-utilized after autoclaving. The usage of acupuncture needles is very strict and only sterile, one-time-use needles are allowed and a Clean Needle Technique course is part of the national board exams and a requirement for licensing.

Acupuncture meridians transmit electricity and light. Therefore electrical stimulation and cold lasers can be used to treat acupuncture points. This is used most often for sensitive points at the finger, toes and bottom of the foot.

Keeping this in mind, there are different styles of acupuncture and I’m listing the ones that we use in our clinic: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses the so-called Eight Principles, which are the guiding factors used to establish the correct course of care and pulse diagnosis is crucial to this style. Korean Constitutional Acupuncture uses abdominal palpation and other diagnostic tools to determine underlying imbalances and the treatment often consists of 4 needles on one side of the body. Global Balancing Method by Dr. Tan has an instant effect on pain but can also be used for other physical ailments. This method includes palpation of the acupuncture meridians and needling of the respecting Yin (inside) and Yang (outside) of arms and legs according to a certain system. Auricular acupuncture considers the ear a microcosm, or representation of the entire body: various physical and emotional conditions can be addressed by ear points. They can be treated with needle, ear tacks or electrical stimulation.

When the practitioner places the needles on the body, careful attention is given to the exact point on the acupuncture meridian, the depth and angle of the needle. Very often, the acupuncturist will synchronize their breath with the patient because there are different therapeutic effects for certain points at exhale and inhale.

Overall getting results with acupuncture is not about using new technologies and nifty tools. It is the sacred relationship between healer and healee and the intention that both set when the healing relationship begins.