Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Acupuncture on the Tongue! WFAS 2013 Review

Yes, you heard correctly! The abstract for the talk reads: "tongue acupuncture is a technique that treats illness through acupuncture applied to the tongue."

Quite a lot to swallow? Get it? Anyway the workshop presentation was really most exciting.

Dr. Sun Jie Guang can be found at the Hong Kong International Tongue Acupuncture Research Clinic or at

I found him at 9am Sunday morning on day 2 of the WFAS conference.

The basic concept of tongue acupuncture is similar to all body part acupuncture (ear for example). Where an image of the human body is put on a small part of the body. The areas of the human body projected on the body part represent where you treat with acupuncture for the associated actual area where there is an issue. On the ear, for example,  mainly the internal organs are represented in the inner part of the ear. For some reason this is sometimes called a holograph. In reality it isn't a holograph. But it does sound fancy.

Just out of interest holographic acupuncture seems to be recent and not referenced in the classics. Ear acupuncture was developed in France during the 1950s by Nogier     The concept of the Homunculus is often cited (latin for little man) for this human image transposed onto another body part. However this has always confused me in its adoption as it is very understandable in its use in neurology where the idea is well known. This is because the human image covering the head indicates the actual physiological parts of the brain associated to where the sensory organs are. Anyway this could be a whole new blog post...

However I have liked ear acupuncture in my own clinical experience ever since I made my own discoveries with patients and their issues.  Parts of the ear (tenderness or harder parts) and the projected image seemed to correlate with the parts of the body where there was an issue.

Anyway an upside down human image is  projected on to the top of the tongue and also on the underneath of the tongue.

Here's an image from his website of the human shape projected on the underneath part of the tongue.

Dr. Sun Jie Guang, in his 30 years of experience,  has noticed a lot of connection with brain function issues and sub-lingual swelling. He stated to treat the area and the symptoms are reduced.

You needle for 3 to 5 seconds. The needle is not retained. Pregnancy is ok. Not in cases of high blood pressure, easy bleeding (warfarin) or heart disease.

One tip he gave was that neck pain is easily treated in the sub-lingual fold and lower back issues are treated higher up the tongue.

Finally he gave a very charming notion how often to get tongue acupuncture as a patient. Every day or three times a day. Same as Western pharmaceutical medication frequency...Except this is completely unrelated to pharmaceutical dosage etc etc. Anyway!

Dr. Sun Jie Guang and his practical head lamp tongue acupuncture equipment

Treatment sounds intense. However apparently after the adrenalin has subsided the actual needling wasn't as bad as you would imagine regarding discomfort. A friend of mine volunteered and said it was fine. A lot of people stated that they experienced immediate relief from issues.

It was all very fascinating and quite dramatic. The question is would you be able to do it in Australia? Under scrutiny from a professional board or examined in court? Anyway it was amazing to witness!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Red laser light induces activation of mast cells

A study to investigate the response of mast cells to red laser light to reveal the role of ,mast cells at acupuncture points.

This is an overview of the talk with analysis:

Prof Wang Lina from China, previous lecturer at Shanghai University of TCM,  outlined this study and gave some reasoning. Firstly he stated that moxibustion was a common practice and laser could be related to as a mechanical heat, similar to moxibustion, If someone was scared of needles this would be a good alternative too.

An infrared laser was used of 600 to 900 nanometres (equal to one billionth of a metre) with a laser skin penetration of 1.2-2 mm. ATP release was monitored. For further investigation human mast cells showed degranulation too (degranulation is a cellular process that releases antimicrobial cytotoxic molecules from secretory vesicles called granules found inside some cells. It is used by several different cells involved in the immune system, including granulocytes (neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils) and mast cells. It is also used by certain lymphocytes such as natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T cells, whose main purpose is to destroy invading microorganisms). Leading to a conclusion that cellular events may form the mechanistic basis that initiates laser acupuncture effects. 

Damage is associated with molecular pattern molecules (molecular,metabolic pathways) including ATP released by injured tissue for immune response. Acupuncture leads to large amount of andenosine, ATP release.

The talk was interesting. I like the molecular pattern molecule indication (molecular or metabolic pathways) which seems to be on trend in the greater science world too. Terms like molecular pathways or metabolic pathways are used a lot currently to describe phenomena which is a nice interrelation into Western science. . The main issue with this talk is how it changes focus. Even in the abstract the title is mast cells but the body of it switches to ATP? I guess they are interrelated. Confusing but some interesting points raised.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WFAS 2013 Review: An overview of Breast Cancer TCM Treatment in Malaysia

One of the first talks I got to on the conference 3 day weekend was an overview from Malaysia.

It states in the abstract about the talk: Malaysia was one of the first Commonwealth countries (53 independent sovereign states, mostly previously British colonies) to use TCM for cancer treatment in government hospitals. It goes on to say: the Malaysian government also approved the use of patent medicines (herbal pills) in cancer treatment, for free!

Medicine in Australia could learn from Malaysia! Further more herbs are really frowned upon in cancer assistance here. That doesn't seem to be the case in Malaysia.

The talk itself by Prof Chunhua Liao, who is a project director for the government project, was more informative than clinical. TCM has been integrated in hospitals there since 2007. With 10 hospitals integrated and 15 departments using TCM nationwide.

Typical formulas used were Xiao Yao San. One herb was mentioned as particularly helpful for building up immunity: Chai Hu. Even stated to reduce metastasis..!

I guess the main thing that caught my intention was a project directive to revert malignant cells back to benign as a future goal. It was a concept I had not heard of before. In Western medicine the emphasis is on killing the cancer and the local cells it could proliferate too. The reversal concept is a very TCM one. That is "if it went one way it can go the other". Just like a knot can be tied and untied. This is a metaphor that I have always liked. Inspiring at the least!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WFAS Highlights: Glaucoma

There's is an eye hospital in China with an over 600 patient daily intake. Here Dr. Wang Ying heads up the acupuncture department and overseas the development of treatment for glaucoma.

Primary closed angle (acute drainage blockage at the front of the eye) is a difficult case to treat with eye pressure ranging between 60-80. It needs to be around 40. However primary open angle glaucoma has drainage that is easier to unblock (for want of a better word) and is treated with acupuncture.

The Dr talked of a glaucoma personality in some cases of a controlling, detail, "A type" personality. She also broadened out the Chinese medicine diagnosis. The use of the colour of the eye was employed. All organs in Chinese medicine relate to colours.The idea of wind was also suggested.  The scale went from cloudy, green, jade and black. Ending in the worst colour diagnosis. The poetic resonance of a cloudy wind or black wind was sweet and horrifying at the same time. Instantly making sense in the Chinese medicine doctrine and confounding Western science. Binding and bending my brain at the same time!

We were shown some pictures of animal studies. Acupuncture in the eye. I felt sorry for these rabbits (or bunnies as it was translated). It was announced that acupuncture in the eye was far better than outside the eye: "cannot be replaced by outside points".

Then it was demonstration time. I'm not sure what happened but the demonstration showed all outside eye points. One is a lot further up within the eye socket however. This was at 8am on Sunday morning so perhaps for the benefit of all involved.

Interesting to note no guide tube was used with inserting. Patient appeared very comfortable.

Apparently eye pressure readings were reduced in all cases spoken off. However the duration was temporary and needs trialling and further investigation. However with no side effects or disruption to Western medicine it is seen as a safe procedure.

Man resting on table before treatment
An idea of the organised chaos!

A delicate procedure, done well. The hectic conditions and ease of treatment by the practitioner shows how they normally perform in very busy environments. This was a breeze!

Points: Bl 1, St 1 then a point on top eye lid into socket

Monday, November 4, 2013

WFAS Review/Overview

WFAS (World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies) is only two thirds through and it's pretty good!
Firstly the location at the Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre is great. There are lots of talks, lots of people from around the world and lots of things to read and products to check out!

Overall it's already a great success! Some of the talks I will review in more detail shortly. I guess my absolute favourite was the acupuncture treatment for PCOS with Dr Danform Lim talk. The standard was just so inspiring. The structure of trial, how he reported it (with a sense of humour and openness) was great. There was so much great work and effort behind the trial that it appeared effortless and totally integrated. Hopefully to be repeated by others, although the bar has been set very high!

Other talks I want to review for you: moxa for oncology patients and some nice insights, an overview of breast cancer and TCM treatment, laser acupuncture, esoteric concept of harmony for cancer treatment, chronoacupuncture. And a couple of workshops. One on glaucoma and acupuncture in the eyeball!! Another of acupuncture on the tongue!! And insights into modern moxibustion with real moxa that is not burnt!

Flame glove treatment... Normal? It is when you go to an acupuncture conference!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Acupuncture for PCOS: an outstanding trial

I am at WFAS ( World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies). Yes you've never heard of it! Well it's a 3 day conference in Sydney with all things Chinese medicine. More about the conference and it's speakers, stands, information and great people shortly!

An outstanding session I went to yesterday must be highlighted. I was absolutely delighted to see Dr Danforn Lim, based in Australia, talk about Acupuncture and the treatment of PCOS (Polyscystic Ovarian Syndrome). Firstly Dr Lim is a Chinese medicine physician and Western medicine trained physician specialising in women's health, amongst a large list of other things . This explains the bow tie by the way: when bending down normal ties get in the way. So whenever you meet a male Dr who has a bow tie, they are usually specialising in women's health!

His talk was an absolute highlight of the whole day for me. I think his 3 year trial sets the next generation of standards that are capable for Chinese medicine and random control trials. A clear a precise trial with clear protocols and procedures that was extremely well supported.

Firstly return of menstruation was the main goal of the trial. This is a step in treating PCOS that begins the rest of the process of how the patient can be healed.

This trial used a high standard from a Chinese medicine and Western medicine point of view. Western Highlights being 150 patients enrolled. A" ramp in" time frame to analyze  the patient and the syndrome to verify. Monthly blood testing for strict analysis. Correct and thorough defining of terms to define PCOS and therefore clarity of outcome against that. Intelligent sham acupuncture and controls were used.
From an Eastern medicine point of view the trial was specified to one Kidney Yang Deficiency pattern with extra consideration to diagnosis of phlegm or blood stasis. Only candidates from this pattern where included.

The main  points used were:
MCA 18 bilateral
Sp 6 bilateral

The outcome: 98 patients returned to 1 month menstruation cycle.

The paper is due for release shortly 


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