In the United States, we have a tendency to view acupuncture as a limited treatment modality. A “fully trained” practitioner will study herbs as well as acupuncture; and most of us trained in this country were taught that acupuncture treatments should be based on the diagnostic principles used in herbalism.
Our first article in this issue challenges this way of thinking about acupuncture. Nicholas Sieben tells us how this attitude came into being, and he gives us a very interesting picture of how acupuncture used to be practiced, as described in the Ling Shu. Classical Chinese Acupuncture prior to the Sung Dynasty was a “channel system.” Six different channel systems were used, and acupuncture was a complete system unto itself, just as herbalism was, or as Western medicine is for us today. It is as though acupuncture started out as a creature with six legs, and then the six legs were tied together as one; and we are now hopping around on one leg, using herbalism as a crutch. There is so much richness to the practice of acupuncture that has been lost in favor of what Sieben calls “herbalized acupuncture.” Our challenge is to free up all six legs so that we can practice acupuncture with all the subtlety and complexity of which it is capable. Sieben moves us a step in that direction.
Our second article, by MichelAngelo, expands our practice of Oriental Medicine by pushing us in an entirely different direction. MichelAngelo examines the fit between Oriental Medicine and Western Astrology, exploring an unexpected correlation that he uncovered in the writings of cosmobiologist Reinhold Ebertin between the meridian pairs and the mundane houses of the natal chart. He presents a method by which practitioners can use the Western astrological chart as a diagnostic tool for interpreting disharmony; and he gives two case studies in which he walks us through the astrological charts, interpreting them in terms of “quincuntial” relationships, and explaining how they logically point to treatments using Acutonics® tuning forks.
Eric Brand gives us a detailed examination of the herb Fu Zi, Aconitum carmichaeli Debx., with particular attention to its processing, both ancient and modern. Brand reviews for us the basic chemistry and toxicity of Fu Zi, the processed forms available to modern practitioners, and the similarities and differences among three aconite products, Fu Zi, Chuan Wu, and Cao Wu.
I included a case study of one of my patients in this issue because it fits with this issue’s theme of exploring how acupuncture can be used in ways beyond how we normally think to use it. In this situation, a patient requested acupuncture treatment for a cardiac problem that his physician could not treat immediately. Acupuncture worked significantly better than I ever expected in my wildest dreams. In the process I discovered that an acupuncture point I have been using for 29 years is not the point I thought it was. A student’s error turned out to be a highly effective point for treating atrial fibrillation and a number of other Heart/Pericardium issues, yet it is a point I never would have used had I learned to locate the point correctly. I am not advocating poor technique or slacking in one’s studies, but I wonder if this is how “experience points” become part of our knowledge base.
I hope this issue will stimulate your growth as a practitioner, as Spring stimulates the growth of Wood.
Wishing you Good Beginnings!