Oriental Medicine Journal, Fall/Metal 2012
One of the things that I truly love about our medicine is that it is built on ancient principles that have proven over the centuries to be robust, versatile, and usable by practitioners of all skill levels from student to master teacher. The age of our medicine is truly astonishing. Yet, even as we develop new treatment methods and uncover physiological explanations for why acupuncture works, we still study – and find relevant – the teachings of our long-dead master practitioners, both about theory and about treatment.
This fact was brought home to me as a “young” acupuncturist, over 20 years ago, with the discovery in
1991 of the 5300-year-old ice mummy who was nicknamed Ötzi because his body was discovered in the
Ötzal Alps between Austria and Italy. Ötzi’s body bears tattoos on 57 acupuncture points on his back,
right knee, calves, and ankles. When the discovery was announced, it was reported that his tattoos are on
acupuncture points that we use today for the diseases he is known to have had at the time of his death. How
Ötzi came to have acupuncture treatments, living as he did in the Alto-Adige region of the South Tyrol, is
certainly a mystery – but I like to think it explains why I felt like a duck taking to water when I began studying
acupuncture, since my maternal relatives still live today in the Alto-Adige, and Ötzi could have been an
ancient great-grandfather of mine.
In this issue, we walk the line between ancient theory and practice and how to adapt them for the patients
we are treating today. We complete our three-part publication of Dennis Willmont’s series on the Inner
Phases of the Five Phase system of acupuncture. Willmont concludes his series by discussing Advanced
Four Needle Technique, specifically, how to adapt the Standard Needle Techniques of the Five Phase System
(Four Needle Technique, Two Needle Technique, and One Needle Technique) to the needs of working in a
clinical setting with real people who have real and complicated problems. Part of his discussion is based on
complex variations of the Four Needle Technique first published by the Korean master acupuncturist Sa-am
in the 16th century. Sa-am’s treatments are as relevant today as they were when he lived. Willmont discusses
the principles underlying these treatments and explains how contemporary acupuncturists can modify the
standard formulas to create simple or complex variations, according to our skill levels using Five Phase
The second article in this issue is a discussion of stroke by Elaine Wagner. Her article is a tribute to two of
our colleagues here in Chicago, John Nabors, LAc, and Elaine Stocker, DN, who died recently due to a stroke.
Wagner examines stroke from the perspective of Western Medicine and TCM, and shares with us some of the
teachings about stroke of Sung Baek, a modern Korean acupuncturist who now lives on the West coast, but
who taught many of the first acupuncturists to study in the Midwest, including John Nabors. Wagner
discusses the kinds of stroke, etiology, prediction, and prevention, and briefly mentions the relatively
new scalp acupuncture as treatment for stroke.
As we move toward the Winter Solstice and the New Year, we at OMJ wish you a safe and healthy year.
Take care of yourselves.