Needling the incorrect points for a disease…

There is an argument out there that acupuncture can do great good, but does not harm people if incorrectly used. On a number of boards I have argued that incorrect use or choice of points can cause harm or even death. I am not talking about needling into the skull or an unclosed fontanel for children, but use of the regular channel points. I think in the West, there is sometimes a cavalier approach to acupuncture, that we can use certain points and it “will always be ok.”

In my own experience, I have had a practitioner needle Lung 5 on me, when I had no apparent respiratory distress or cough. I was perfectly healthy and receiving a “tune up.” I woke up the next day with my left lung filled with fluid, breathing felt like it was being done under water. I went back to the student-practitioner and she didn’t know what the reason was for the breathing issue, but that maybe I had “caught bronchitis over night.” This was not malpractice, simply a student who had not been taught to not needle certain points in certain situations. While in acupuncture school, I found that for the most part the contraindications for needling that I was taught had more to do with the structure of the body, rather then the Chinese diagnosis. It is apparent from reading the classics that the diagnosis is just as important when it comes to picking which points NOT to needle.

I am a practicing acupuncturist, and I don’t say these things to breed fear, but to raise awareness that being attentive to our choice of points – must be the norm.

Wáng Zhízhòng 王執中 in his Zhēn Jiǔ Zī Shēng Jīng 針灸資生經 (The Classic of Supplementing Life with Acupuncture and Moxibustion) translation by Dr. Yue Lu (forthcoming) said:


Only needle Shuǐ Gōu 水溝 (Dū 26) for edema; if other points are needled, people will die after water becomes exhausted. This is the contraindication from Míng Táng 《明堂》 and Tóng Rén 《銅人》. Vulgar healers usually needle Shuǐ Fēn 水分 (Rèn 9) on patients, so they have killed a lot of people. If other points are needled, it will be very lucky for these people to recover afterwards. This cannot be set as the standard principle.”

The classics were clear the improper use of acupuncture could cause great problems. Wáng Zhízhòng is also clear that there are “vulgar” healers, who are essentially lay people with only a limited amount of training. You see where this goes: when seeing any other practitioner who practices acupuncture, but has not gone through enough training, there are risks. By seeing a practitioner of Chinese medicine who is cavalier about their point choices, there are risks.

I could go on, but that takes us into political agendas and scholastic reform, neither of which I have the qi to move forward on right now 😉 So practitioners, here is a good reminder to be attentive with your choice of points. Patients: be attentive about your choice of practitioners.

New Sales Tax Rules

From now until April 1st, is the last chance to buy books from us directly at without paying sales tax. As of April 1st, if you live in a sales tax state, your purchase will be assessed a sales tax. Unfortunately, this is outside of our control, and has to do with the lawsuit currently being fought by Amazon. So if you need an excuse to buy the rest of the Zhen Jiu Da Cheng, or the Jin Gui Fang Ge Kuo, now is a good time 😉

Line of translation for the day …


Fēi Yáng 飛揚 (UB 58) treats wing-necked pheasant hemorrhoids.

From the Zhēn Jiǔ Zī Shēng Jīng  針灸資生經 (The Classic of Supplementing Life with Acupuncture) by Wáng Zhízhòng 王執中. Translated by Dr. Yue Lu, forthcoming.

This wins the line of the day, simply because describing a hemorrhoid like a wing-necked pheasant is about as poetic as you can get 😉 So next time you need to use UB 58, you can think “Pheasant or no pheasant? Is this going to be pleasant? Please don’t resent. For you have given me consent, and the growth of your hemorrhoid will now descent.” 😉 lol

A little bit about why the Database exists….

Truthfully, this project has always been about having our community create a cumulative mass in the terms of a small monthly payment – which when taken alone doesn’t count towards much – (for example what does $15.00 buy us these days?), but when taken together by a group of dedicated people, means a body of revenue to fund not just small projects, but large projects. There are many many documents which we likely will never see translated in our life time, simply because they will take too long for one person to do. None of us can afford to not be paid while we are dedicated to translating a large document. The revenue from the Database, when over a certain number of subscribers (that just allows us to pay the basic day to day operations), is used to fund this kind of translation. Think of us as a “think tank” or an Institution based around Asian medical texts, except we are privately funded by people like you, in the way of subscriptions.

We began this project in 2006 and since then we have translated a number of small, but important documents. In some sense, we believe, that our community hasn’t fully grasped the idea of investing in the future of Chinese medicine. It is very very costly to be in our profession, and really all of our extra income really could go towards paying our student loans, but as some have recently noted, who we have do our translation of classical material matters. Translations of the core texts, and their often lengthy commentaries give us insight and deeper access to our medicine. Many of the repetitive conversations that happen on our community forums regarding the medicine have often been solved in the classics.

I am not saying the classics are perfect by any means, but the level of understanding that the authors, whom I have read in Chinese (from different dynasties) makes my own understanding of the medicine – pale in comparison. Like all rigorous learning – this material needs to be read through and studied. What works – we can extract, what doesn’t work- we can discard. But until all of us have access to the material in our own language, it is gong to leave a gap in the audience of those who have advanced understanding. Currently, in our profession, only access to advanced knowledge is through the route of oral presentation. The triangle that medicine is based on is research/ observation (clinical)/ and lineage sharing (in my eyes). When we have access to the majority of the medical cannon, and we can critically think the material therein, then we will open up a vast tool box that future generations of practitioners will forever be indebted to us for.

And that is the main reason why the Database exists, to fulfill what is lacking, and build the bridge one stone at a time.