Acupuncture SmilingStyles of acupuncture

There are a number of styles and applications for acupuncture. I was trained in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Chinese style during school, which tends to be forceful and uses larger gauge needles and causes more pain. From my experience I did not find this any more effective than other styles. Needless to say, I soon found this style very unsatisfactory with my patients after starting practice. Now, I practice a modified Japanese style which uses a very thin gauge needle and tube insertion for quick and nearly painless insertion. Each person experiences and reacts to needle insertion differently. For some there is no sensation, for some it can feel painful, but most feel a pressure sensation, not a pain at all.

Early in my practice I studied under Kiiko Matsomoto, who uses a traditional Japanese style. This style uses more needles, but they are thinner with very empirical site selection, along with the use of small rice-size moxa pellets. This was a much less painful style, but very time consuming in clinical use and with no clear-cut theoretical foundation which meant that there were numerous specific protocols, but no generalized approach for each patient.

Later in my practice I found Dr. Richard Tan. He intrigued me because he is an engineer who only after living in the US decided to go back to his family business of acupuncture. Dr. Tan practices and teaches a traditional Chinese acupuncture which is a far cry from the bureaucratically created amalgam TCM acupuncture that I studied in school. He teaches specific empirical treatments coupled with a rich traditional theory-based acupuncture which emphasizes balancing the acupuncture meridians. I love this style and continue to use it along with empirical and "a shi" treatment points regularly in my practice. Often I will use this style with ion-cords which actually allows the meridians to balance using the body's own current. For painful or chronic conditions I may use electro-acupuncture, too.

I do not practice 5 element style or any other constitutional style of acupuncture, although I find the work of Jeffery Yuen, PhD to be absolutely fascinating.

Moxa use

I do not use moxa any longer because it makes my office smell like a marijuana den and the smell stays on the office walls! But, I encourage you to use moxa at home or outside for self-treatment; it can be a wonderful soothing, tonifying treatment.


Also, for special applications I do use Chinese cups. These are heated glass cups which cool quickly and by the consequent suction created, pull blood to the surface of the skin or into the localized muscles. They can be helpful for any "stagnant blood" condition, but when applied over back Shu points can help strengthen organs. Besides painful conditions I have found "cupping" to be very helpful for asthma.

Try it, you'll like it.

Ultimately, acupuncture is about the intent and Qi of the practitioner, coupled with the intrinsic action of sticking a needle into a muscle or affecting the nervous system and the underlying energetic channels. The effects can be profound for some people. I encourage all my patients to try it out for their condition, even if they come to me for another treatment modality.

Acupuncture related modalities:

  • Stainless needles, sterile, one-use. I use the thinnest gauge possible with insertion tube for quick, essentially pain-free acupuncture.
  • Moxa (see above, I rarely use full moxa sticks any longer, but on occasion use small moxa tabs on specific points.)
  • Cups. I use regularly.
  • Electro-stimulation of acupuncture points. I use regularly as microcurrent (measured in millionths of an amp), not milliamp (measured in thousandths of an amp) current which can be painful at times.
  • Electro-acupuncture according to Voll (EAV)
  • Korean Hand acupuncture I can teach you how to use this as a self-treatment method. 
  • Magnets. Occasional use only.
  • Essential Oils on acupuncture points. Not using at this time.
  • Cold Laser of acupuncture points. I use this occasionally and especially to balance points after doing EAV, Electro-acupuncture according to Voll.

Conditions for which I have found acupuncture to be very helpful:

  • Immune enhancement
  • Pain control
  • Stimulation of healing
  • Stress reduction
  • Habit/CNS reprogramming
  • Gynecological conditions
  • Regulation of Autonomic nervous system physiology (Heart, Lung, Digestion, etc)

Each person responds to being "needled" differently. The response and resultant benefit seems to follow a Bell or Gaussian curve. In other words, there are some people who experience great benefit, some who get no benefit, but the majority get at least some benefit and still need some other treatment or life style adjustment to bring resolution to their condition.