|The journal of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture with acupuncture research articles, reviews, abstracts and case studies.|
Volume 13 / Number 2
Healing In Arthritis:
Using the SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device) magnetometer, scientists have been able to detect the minute energy fields around the human body,8 and significant increases in the magnetic field emanations from the hands of practitioners.4,9 These biomagnetic fields are associated with physiological activities inside the body. Electrical currents generate magnetic fields. Since living tissues have much electrical activity, it is reasonable to think of the entity known as the human aura as being, at least in part, the manifestation of these magnetic fields. There is also research on distant energy work, including prayer and Qi Gong, in which results cannot be easily explained by our current understanding of physics.10
The hands, used as sensors, are slowly moved about near the body, 1-6 inches off the skin, to determine the shape and quality of the energy field, including comparing the right and left sides. Healers will also direct attention to scanning specific vortexes of energy (Chakras) to further determine where flow is affected. Many healers find the use of pendulums helpful in evaluating the strength and direction of energy flow over these Chakras. Attention should also be directed toward scars that may "leak energy" and contribute to problems locally and generally.
Sensations vary and include temperature (warm, cool), discomfort (painful, prickly, itchy), pressure (empty, dense), and movement (smooth or pulsating flow). The temperature perceived in the air is different than the actual temperature felt when the hand is placed on the person's skin. The healer listens to thoughts coming from within, and attentively to words the patient actually speaks for clues to the problem. In arthritis, the fields over the affected joints may feel cool or hot, empty or too full, smooth or pulsating. One cannot anticipate how the field will feel simply by taking a history. These same scans by hand and pendulum are repeated during and after the treatment to monitor changes.2
While energy changes already occur during the initial scanning, the next part of the healing sequence is the specific intervention. There are a multitude of hands-on approaches. Sessions may be strongly directed by intuition. I often first establish a connection with the patient by simply placing my hands in the air 1 or 2 inches above and under each foot. This initial calm and non-threatening approach is well accepted by patients, and I then continue with other interventions, such as full body techniques including smoothing the field with the "Magnetic Unruffle," and balancing the field and supporting flow with the "Chakra Connection."2
In arthritis, the intention of the healer is to reduce pain and swelling, to retard the degenerative process, and to restore the joint to function. The use of "therapeutic modulation" and the "pain drain" may be helpful. In modulation, the healer places a hand to either side of the affected part with the intention of normalizing the field; in the pain drain, the clinician places 1 hand over the area of pain, and positions the other hand away from the body as if to siphon away the pain or congestion. Pain may be felt by the healer during these interventions.1
Another arthritis technique is "ultrasound," in which the healer directs focused energy through the thumb and 2 fingers held together, moving the hand over the affected joint. Other more elaborate interventions are used to relax the muscles holding the vertebrae, while applying a variation of ultrasound; the "Hopi Indian technique" is used if specific areas of the spine remain blocked.2
Expertise in counseling is important. While some interventions may take a few moments, a full session usually involves 30-60 minutes. At the conclusion of the session, the patient should be fully alert, integrated, and relaxed; the energy field should feel balanced with a smooth, easy, comfortably warm flow.
Sometimes a person is seen only once for a healing intervention, but usually more sessions are useful, especially for chronic problems. The frequency of sessions can be daily, but they usually occur weekly and then, less often. Patients are advised not to abandon customary medical interventions and to seek the counsel of a conventional physician.
Techniques in Arthritis
The frequency and intensity of electroacupuncture affect the outcome. Low-frequency (2-4 Hz) and high-intensity ($10 mA) stimulation mimics manual needle stimulation and produces analgesia that is slow in onset, generalized throughout the body, cumulative, endorphin-dependent, and continues after the stimulation has ceased. This type of analgesic response is blocked by opiate antagonists and requires an intact nervous system. High-frequency/low-intensity stimulation ($10 mA) activates low-threshold skin and muscle receptors to produce analgesia that is rapid in onset, is segmental (active only in the electrostimulated regions), ceases when the stimulation has stopped, is not cumulative, and is not endorphin-dependent. High-frequency stimulation appears to be mediated by the monoamine transmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, as well as dynorphins.5 Using a mid range of 20-30 Hz allows the advantages of both high and low frequency neurotransmitters.
Instead of using electricity, the needles can be manually twisted or heated. Energy can also be dispersed by using only the basic needle techniques. Additional approaches achieve sedation with other needle-twisting procedures, and attach importance to the angle of the needle's penetration and the importance of specific needle depth/size.5,11
Other acupuncture approaches to treating arthritis and other conditions include auriculoacupuncture (France), hand acupuncture (Korea), and scalp acupuncture (China and Japan). In North America, there is much interest in the neuroanatomic approach to needle placement, based on detailed knowledge of the anatomy and function of the nervous system.
Certain points along the meridians have special functions and are selectively used in treating POS. In addition to expelling the external factors using traditional points, one may also select points to enhance Liver (for the sinews), Kidney (for the bones), and Governing Vessel (for general defensive Qi).12