More observations from the acupuncture front line and a round up of techniques and ideas.
One female patient presented with gallstones. Reviewing the scan they had I almost took it in my stride when I read the measurements. Then I had to get my brain around it. A 1cm x 2cm x 0.7cm was in the body of the gallbladder and at the top of the gallbladder was a 2cm x 5cm x 1cm stone! This patient must have been enduring excruciating pain for years? Any way she also had radiating back pain and I guess she chose acupuncture needle technique over an operation and also a stone that size would not be able to be sonically treated?
I was told acupuncture could fix this. If I go back hopefully I will be able to get another stone size reading, In the meantime because the patients pain was all the time at night she was given buried needle technique to help. This is were the needles are retained in place, in this case for ten days, by surgical tape over the top to bend them against the skin. The main points used were Bladder back shu for Liver and Gallbladder and also GB 34 and ST 36 which were also taped over and retained. She also received ear acupuncture, but with regular short acupuncture needles that were retained!
The general procedure in clinic was Guasha (scraping technique) first. This is done to move energy around the body and to reduce pain (Blood stasis). This was done on the back and also the front of the body, which I hadn’t seen before. A dark oil was used that contained Hong Hua (a Blood moving herb)to assist in reducing pain. Didn’t seem to work for the actual treatment!
This would be followed by what was called warm needle. The tungsten needle was flashed over a flame and not reddened. This was applied to the back using the back shu points. However 3 or 4 more insertions would be made. So for example centre of the spine, shu point, outer Bladder point and 1 cun or 2 cun lateral to the outer Bladder point. A yellow antiseptic solution was applied (generally) to the point before needling.
Then fire needle proper might be done on some main points and extra important points. The tungsten needle heated to red and applied to the skin. Same procedure as above.
Following this normal needling would be done. Just as a side note patients had to bring in their own needles! Each consultation would cost 300 Yuan and then for a treatment this would cost a few hundred more. So to have to bring your own needles was a bit cheeky I thought. This would be the case with fire needles sometimes too. I think that was for health reasons as some patients knew the same needles were used all the time. There was a presumption of adequate procedures and sterilisation from fire by other patients, or they may not have even considered to think about it. It is yet to be researched and this is frowned upon in Australian clinics, but not outlawed, because it’s such a rare practice in the first place.
The normal needling would consist of quick insertion and maybe some turning on insertion. All free hand. Impressively dozens of needles would be inserted in seconds, quicker than I could write the points down in fact! A face would be covered in less than five minutes.
Also with this scalp acupuncture would be utilised. Working on tracking Western brain function zones. For example the motor area of the brain was located and the scalp was needled above this area to help with leg or arm pain. Turtle image was also used. This is a far out concept but in TCM it makes sense. You map an image to a certain part of the body. For example in reflexology they map a curled human body to the foot and allocate organ areas to where they come up against the sole of the foot. In this case it’s a turtle. The centre is located on the belly button. This area is seen as significant in Chinese medicine theory as it’s where initial life was provided and is strong in energy. So if the patient has a painful right shoulder the right shoulder area of the turtle, superimposed on the belly , is needled. In this clinic usually a clustering of needles.
After this the patient would lie down and have electro to certain areas and usually electro moxibustion. This could last for an hour sometimes!
Another procedure after Guasha would be to use a lancet and bleed areas with vacuum glass jars. Mostly bleeding in Australia is a pin prick technique or one jab with a lance and some bleeding but it’s rarely done. Here many jabs of the lanced and deep. This is to provide good release of Blood Stasis and pain relief. In some cases it was observable to see darker blood (indicating more Blood Stasis).
Also ear acupuncture would be done following normal ear charts with needles and also herb seed placements. Finally Dr Bai would also prescribe herbal formulas in some cases as well.
Sometimes when the needles where retained a special spray was used over the area. It didn’t have any ingredients listed but smelt like balsamic vinegar. It was used to move Blood, relieve pain and I was told it could melt bone spurs..! This was the name on the bottle: Gu You Ling Cha Ji.
And finally there was a really cool electric Guasha tool. It provided heated Guasha, but unfortunately I didn’t see it in action as it had broken down.
As you can imagine a busy clinic with two assistants constantly on the go.