Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Balance Method

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

In Chinese medicine, there is a continual dialogue about how to achieve balance. One of the laws of nature is represented by the tai qi symbol, which is more popularly known as the yin yang symbol. The tai qi symbol represents a natural law of dynamic balance that is found in nature. For example, as the earth spins, there is a dynamic balance between night and day, and hot and cold, as the sun's position changes.

When you come to an extreme point of the day (the least or most amount of sunlight), the balance shifts, and the less dominant element becomes the predominating element. This is one basic concept that Chinese medical practitioners use to help patients. By assessing the state of the internal environment of the body and the balance of the meridians, a practitioner can choose the best herbs, foods, and acupuncture points to create harmony for the patient.

One common area of acupuncture study is called Microsystems. Microsystems is a term that is used to describe a unique map of acupuncture points that are distributed over a small area of the body. Microsystems use the concept of yin and yang to explain why an area of the body that has an anatomical resemblance of another part of the body can be used to treat that other area of the body.

You may have seen the ear acupuncture charts that we have around the office. In these diagrams, you can see that the points are distributed in a manner that represents the body parts of a person. The lobe of the ear is visually and structurally similar to the head. This is why acupuncture points found on the lobe of the ear effect illness of the head, including nose, ears, eyes, etc.

The Microsystem of the hand can also be seen as visually and structurally similar to the human body. In this system, the middle finger down to the wrist joint is the trunk, neck and head of the body. The 2nd and 4th fingers are the upper limbs, and the 1st and 5th are the lower limbs. The palm of the hand effects the internal organs of the body, while the back of the hand effects the back of the body and skeletal-muscular disorders of the shoulders, hips and back. There are additional Microsystems found on other areas of the body including the scalp and foot.

Another way of using acupuncture to send a message of balance to the body is by using the Primary Meridians to find which point will send the best message to that part of the body that is in distress. These points are usually very tender or sore when massaged. This technique of finding treating tender points on areas of the body that reflect illness located at another body site is commonly referred to as the Balance Method.

Primary Meridian is the term used to describe the 12 Primary Meridians that travel the length of the body, beginning or ending at the tips of the fingers or toes. These are the full body meridian charts that can be seen in the treatment rooms. When using the primary meridians to find a therapeutic balance, points along the entire arm and/or leg are used to heal other parts of the body. The practitioner first diagnoses which meridian has an imbalance (this is the meridian that travels through the area of the patient's illness). The second step is to determine which primary meridian will best balance the out-of-balance meridian by using the natural laws of yin and yang. The third task is to find points along the primary meridian chosen for treatment that will send the most effective signal to the distressed area of the body.

With this system, like the Microsystems, it can be observed that there is a visual and structural similarity between two distinct areas of the body. For example, the inside light skin area of the elbow can be used to treat the light skin area of the knee on the opposite side of the body.

At the end of this article I have listed the names and point locations for four acupuncture points of the hands that can be massaged to relieve a headache. The best point to choose is based on the location of the headache. When using these concepts to select the best point to treat the headache, the wrist of the person represents the neck and the hand represents the head and face. Have fun experimenting with the Balance Method and the next time you hurt your ankle, search for the very tender point that can be found in your wrist on the opposite side of the body.

Acupuncture Points To Relieve Headaches:

後洗"Back Stream" Small Intestine 3 - Trace the outside border of the pinky where the light and dark skin meet. This point is found in the depression that can be found on the hand just after you trace over the knuckle. Press deep to find the tender spot and massage to treat headaches located on the back of the head where the head rests when lying on a pillow.

少府 "Lesser Palace" Heart 8 - This point is found where the tip of the little finger rests when a fist is made. Press deep to find the tender spot and massage to treat headaches located on the side of the head and face.

合谷 "Joining Valley" Large Intestine 4 - This point is found on the back of the hand in the fleshy muscle found between the thumb and the first finger. Press to find the tender spot and massage to treat headaches located on the forehead or face.

When using these points, check to see which point is more tender. Is it the point on the left or right side of the body? When pain is located on one side of the body, generally the acupuncture point on the opposite side of the body in relation to the pain will be more tender and effective for treating the pain.