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    10th Newsletter

 


The Sharp Point of Korean Acupuncture


by Joh Byung Jin & Kwon Hyo Jung

(Grade 4, Writer)

Many a friend has asked the question, "What's so special about Korean acupuncture?" Certainly, it all seems like sticking a bunch of needles into the epidermis. But as is with KM in general, acupuncture has also developed into something else here in Korea. Some branches involve using different materials, some use different rules for selecting acupoints, and some even use special acupoints not included in most books!(that is to say, they don't have names like LU 9 or HT 4).

The methods described here were chosen because they have been used in practice for a substantial period of time and have been scientifically proven or clinically demonstrated to be effective. There are also other well known theories such as Korean hand acupuncture that fit the bill but have not been dealt with in this article because of the subject's comprehensiveness.

- Saam acupuncture

Saam acupuncture is a unique Korean method that is 400 years old, founded by the hermit Saam and discretely handed down. This method treats illnesses by tracing the fundamental cause of the disease. Therefore for various treatments exist for a common illness in different people and different situations. Also, completely differentsymptoms or diseases complained by many people can be treated by the same treatment. The boundary of Saam acupuncture is limitless, for it can be applied according to the physical and psychological state of the patient. Because Saam acupuncture uses acupoints at the ends of the four limbs, it is practiced safely albeit the intense stimulation, and has a powerful healing effect. The less than eight acupoints used in a Saam acupuncture treatment are situated distal from the elbow and knee joints, making it free of the danger of injuring the organs. They are selected carefully after examining the whole body and its current state, so the outcome of the treatment is immense and immediate, for both newly acquired and chronic illnesses.

Just like KM itself, Saam acupuncture does not leave the field of Eum Yang. Its fundamental principle is Eum taking charge of Yang and vice versa. Any deficiency should be tonified and any excess purged. Reducing and reinforcing methods should be altered precisely according to the characteristic and meridian of a disease. For example, HT8 is the acupoint that has the characteristic of Fire. It belongs to the heart meridian, which is also Fire in Five Phases. Therefore the Ki of Fire is strong in HT8 making it a great acupoint to tonifyin people whose bodies are cold, but doing the same in people who have a lot of heat could be dangerous.


There are two main concepts in Saam acupuncture. Jeong Gyeok (which loosely means the original sequence) is tonifying the deficient organ's mother organ. SeungGyeok (the reverse sequence) is purging the excess organ's son organ. Let us make an example of a person who has symptoms typical of an ailing lung system. If the symptoms point to a deficiency syndrome Lung Jeong Gyeok is administered to that patient. Lung is Metal, so its mother Earth is tonified in the self meridian (LU) and Earth (SP). Fire, which checks Metal is purged in the Lung and Heart meridians. If the patient's symptoms are those of an excess syndrome Lung Seung Gyeok takes place. The acupoints purged in the Jeong Gyeok are instead tonified in the Seung Gyeok. Metal's son is Water, so KI10 (Water meridian's Water point) and LU5 (the Lung meridian's Water point) are purged. The Five Phases acupoints (called Five Su points; hyeol means acupoint) are shown in the table below. They are all located in the extremities of the four limbs. The Jeong Gyeok and Seung Gyeok are organized in the next table.

Meridian Jeong() Hyoung() Su() Gyoung() Hap()
Wood, Metal Fire, Water Earth, Wood Metal, Fire Water, Earth
LU LU11 LU10 LU9 LU8 LU5
LI LI1 LI2 LI3 LI5 LI11
ST ST45 ST44 ST43 ST41 ST36
SP SP1 SP2 SP3 SP5 SP8
HT HT9 HT8 HT7 HT4 HT3
SI SI1 SI2 SI3 SI5 SI8
BL BL67 BL66 BL65 BL60 BL40
KI KI1 KI2 KI3 KI7 KI10
PC PC9 PC8 PC7 PC5 PC3
TE TE1 TE2 TE3 TE6 TE10
GB GB44 GB43 GB41 GB38 GB34
LR LR1 LR2 LR3 LR4 LR8

Meridian Jeong Gyeok Seung Gyeok
Tonify Purge Tonify Purge
LU SP3 LU9 HT8 LU10 HT8 LU10 KI10 LU5
LI ST36 LI11 SI5 LI5 SI5 LI5 BL66 LI2
ST SI5 ST41 GB41 ST43 GB41 ST43 LI1 ST45
SP ST8 SP2 LI1 SP1 LI1 SP1 LU8 SP5
HT LI1 HT9 KI10 HT3 KI10 HT3 SP3 HT7
SI GB41 SI3 BL66 SI2 BL66 SI2 ST36 SI8
BL SI1 BL67 ST36 BL40 ST36 BL40 GB41 BL65
KI LU8 KI7 SP3 KI3 SP3 KI3 LR1 KI1
PC LR1 PC9 KI10 PC3 KI10 PC3 SP3 PC7
TE GB41 TE3 BL66 TE2 BL66 TE2 ST36 TE10
GB BL66 GB43 SI1 GB44 SI1 GB44 SI5 GB38
LR KI10 LR8 LU8 LR4 LU8 LR4 TE2 LR4

- Taegeuk acupuncture

Taegeuk acupuncture is the acupuncture version of Sasang constitutional medicine treatment. Sasang constitutional medicine, a system unique to Korean medicine, is a system of classification which puts patients into four categories according to discrepancies among energies of major organs. It provides a convenient way to treat the patient with a tailored approach. (to find out more about Sasang constitutional medicine, read 'Our own hippocrates' and 'KM seen by the books'

Taegeuk acupuncture puts emphasis on acupoints on the Heart meridian. This is because the Heart is said to "hold the office of lord and sovereign" in 'Nei Jing' and 'Dong Eui Su Se Bo Won', the classic of Sasang constitutional medicine. Therefore, Taegeuk acupuncture stimulates acupoints on the Heart meridian to control the basic imbalance between the major organ energies. Since a Taeyang person is said to have a strong Lung and a weak Liver, he or she is considered to be in a state of Metal excess. Thus, a practitioner using Taegeuk acupuncture would start with stimulating HT8, the Fire acupoint on the Heart meridian. Such acupoints may also be used in diagnosis; a pleasant sensation and alleviation of symptoms on stimulation confirms that the patient indeed belongs to the according constitution.

The table below shows each constitution's characteristics and important acupoints.

Spleen is considered Fire because Heart is regarded as the basis of life, and thus the characteristic of Earth is attributed to it.

⊙ Basic characteristics of the constitutions and related acupoints on the Heart meridian

Constitution
strongest organ / weakest organ
Acupoints
Taeyang
Lung(Metal) / Liver(Wood)
HT8(Fire)
Soyang
Spleen(Fire) / Kidney(Water)
HT3(Water)
Taeeum
Liver(Wood) / Lung(Metal)
HT4(Metal)
Soeum
Kidney(Water) / Spleen(Fire)
HT7(Earth)

HT7(Earth)

If the practitioner feels the need for additional tonification or purgation, he may generally treat excess by purging the strong organ, and treat deficiency by tonifying the weak organ. For example, the appropriate stimulation for a Soyang person would be to tonify KI3 and purge SP3. The Soyang person would have a strong Spleen Ki and a relatively weak Kidney, so the Source point of each meridian is purged or tonified accordingly. The exception to this rule is the Soeum constitution. The Soeum person has a strong Kidney, but since the Kidney is the source of Essence and primordial Ki, the Large intestine is purged instead.

⊙ Constitutions and Source points

Source points are acupoints which control the Ki of the according meridians.

Constitution
Source points
Taeyang
LR 3(+) LU 9(-)
Soyang
KI 3(+) SP 3(-)
Taeeum
LU 9(+) LR 3(-)
Soeum
SP 3(+) LI 4(-)

* (+) indicates tonification and (-) indicates purgation

- Eight Constitution acupuncture

Eight constitutional acupuncture is part of Eight constitutional medicine, developed by Dr. Do Won Kwon and first presented in 1965. Eight constitutional medicine categorizes people according to the person's prominent organ. The categories are related with the Five Phases and Eum and Yang. They are Wood Yang(Hepatotonia), Wood Eum(cholecystotonia), Earth Yang(Pancreotonia), Earth Eum(Gastrotonia), Water Yang(Renotonia), Water Eum(Vesicotonia), Metal Yang(Pulmotonia), and Metal Eum(Colonotonia). This system does not have a Fire category, based on the text "Fire has no shape".

The practitioner uses a combination of acupoints based on these categories and applications of interpromoting and restricting relationships, according to the patient's status. An example of such combinations is Vitalization combination. Different Vitalization combinations exist for each constitution, based on the logic forementioned.

The needle is basically inserted superficially and removed quickly. This is to promote the arrival of Ki. The needle may be inserted at slanted angles to tonify or purge Ki. The whole procedure is repeated a certain number of times.


- Herbal acupuncture

Herbal acupuncture employs an equipment foreign to the history of Eastern medicine; the hypodermic syringe. Inspired by the use of bee venom in acupuncture treatments dating back to at least B.C 200, aqua-acupuncture started in China in the 1950s. But since then, the Chinese enthusiasm has flagged, and with the introduction of differentiation of syndromes in accordance with the theory of the Six meridians and the Eight principles, Korea's offshoot of the method developed into Meridian Herbal acupuncture and Eight principle Herbal acupuncture.

The crossover between acupuncture and herbal medicine has an advantage in that benefits from both treatments can be gained at the same time. Bee venom or extracts from herbal ingredients are injected varying with need. Herbal acupuncture is known to be especially effective for chronic pain, such as in arthritis.

Because the theoretical basis of the methods are highly suited to the individual patient, acupuncture in Korea is also more focused on treating the individual. Also, new methods introduced to Korean medicine opens new ground for treatment. The strong points of Korean acupuncture lies not only in its tradition, but also in its development.

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