Acupuncture and acupressure are two widely known alternate therapies and practiced around the world with varying degree of spread, popularity and acceptance. In addition to these two main acu therapies, there are scores of allied acu therapies being practiced in various part of the world. Examples of such acu therapies are: sujok acupuncture/pressure, ayurvedic acupuncture/pressure, yogic acupuncture/pressure, electro acupuncture, laser puncture, sono puncture, aqua puncture, seed therapy, magneto therapy, chromo (colour) therapy, acupuncture - moxibustion, auricular therapy (ear acupuncture), periosteal acupuncture, reflexology, etc.
While the two main therapies of acupuncture and acupressure are believed to have originated in China around 2000 – 3000 B.C., some of the acu therapies are of as recent an origin as the late twentieth century. The aim here is to give out a synopsis of various acu therapies that are being practiced at Acupressure Research, Training & Treatment Sansthan, Allahabad, India.
Acupuncture is the foremost and most basic amongst all the acu therapies prevalent in various parts of the world. The word ‘acupuncture’ has two parts, ‘acu’ and ‘puncture’. Acu means needle. Puncture is self-explanatory and means ‘to pierce’. Acupuncture hence refers to a therapy wherein needles are inserted at specified locations of therapeutic value on the human body to heal diseases. It is a very effective system of treatment and can cure a vast majority of diseases known to mankind.
Acupuncture seeks to cure diseases by restoring the imbalance of energy flow in the human body. As per the basic principle of the therapy, energy is constantly flowing in the human body along defined pathways known as meridians. A disease occurs if this energy flow becomes excess or deficient, gets impeded or counter flows due to various external or internal factors. A number of points known as acu points are located along these meridians and control the flow of energy on these pathways, just the way electrical switches/regulators control the flow of current in a circuit. Stimulation of these acu points with needles using specific techniques corrects the energy imbalance along a meridian and the disease gets cured.
If instead of using needles, pressure is applied on these same very acu points with the help of thumb, fingers or any object, the therapy is known as acupressure. The principles underlying both acupuncture and acupressure therapies are exactly the same.
Acupuncture is an invasive method of treatment involving some degree of pain and often a sense of fear on part of the patient. On the other hand, acupressure does not involve any needle insertion although some degree of pain is still experienced when an acu point is pressed. While both these therapies are equally effective, acupuncture appears to give faster relief than acupressure. One has the advantage of faster relief, whereas the other has the advantage of lesser pain in the application of the therapy. That is perhaps the reason why these two similar therapies have existed concurrently through the centuries.
Acupuncture is not being currently practiced at the Sansthan. Even the acupressure therapy that is being practiced at the Sansthan and its affiliate treatment centers is mostly the modified version of the original acupressure therapy, namely, sujok acupressure. The original acu therapies are generally referred to as Chinese/classical acupuncture or acupressure. These original acu therapies form part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The modified acu therapy being practiced at the Sansthan is described below.
In classical acupuncture, acu points are to found on the entire body at various locations from head to the toe. These points have been used for needle insertion since the very inception of the therapy thousands of years ago. In the year 1987, a break through research by Prof. Park Jae Woo of Korea established that the human hands and the feet are replica of the entire body and exact correspondence of body acu points exist on the hands/feet. It is thus possible to practice acupuncture solely on the hands or feet instead of treating acu points located at various body parts. Prof. Park named his invention as sujok acupuncture. Sujok is a Korean word meaning hands and feet and sujok acupuncture refers to acupuncture using acu points on the hands and the feet.
Sujok acupuncture has revolutionized the practice of classical acupuncture by making the therapy very simple and yet equally effective. The principle behind the new therapy is exactly the same as that of classical acupuncture. However, the needles used in sujok acupressure are much smaller than the needles used in classical acupuncture and are inserted superficially on the palms/feet at very little depth. The sujok therapy is not only simple but also extremely convenient to apply for both the patient and the therapist.
Just as in classical acu therapy, if pressure is applied on the acu points on the hands/feet with a probe or a similar object instead of inserting needles, the therapy is known as sujok acupressure. The latter, being non invasive, is even more convenient. Sujok acupuncture/pressure, being relatively a very new therapy vis a vis the classical acupuncture/pressure being practiced since thousands of years, has yet to gain the level of awareness, popularity and acceptance as the latter. However, the type of acupressure followed by the Sansthan is in fact the non-invasive sujok acupressure and the latter has gained immense popularity in India through the lead given by the Sansthan.
In both the classical and sujok acupuncture/acupressure, the medium of application is the needle or finger/thumb/object pressure. The aim in all cases is to stimulate the acu points in order to achieve their tonification (increase of energy) or sedation (decrease of energy) with a view to balancing the energy flow at these points. It has been found that the same effect can be achieved by the application of micro magnets, seeds or colour on these acu points. The modified therapy is known as magneto/seed/colour therapy, depending upon the medium of application. The Sansthan is using all these therapies to good effect. See details of micro magnets used by the Sansthan under the head ‘Acupressure Instruments’.
As commonly known, a magnet has dual polarity and the two ends of a magnet are referred to as the North and the South poles. When a micro magnet is fixed on the surface of a body part in such a manner that the North pole touches the skin, tonification occurs, that is, the energy level at that point is increased. Similarly, if the South pole of a micro magnet touches the skin, sedation occurs, that is, the energy level at that point is decreased. The micro magnets are fixed to the body surface with the help of surgical adhesive tapes for duration of few hours daily as advised by the therapist.
Dried seeds like buckwheat, ‘methi’, gram, peas, etc. can also be applied in place of micro magnets with good effect. Seeds are affixed on the body surface in the similar manner of micro magnets with the help of surgical adhesive tapes. They perform the function of balancing the energy at an acu point through their bio energy flow and the pressure energy that they exert on the point. They are applied for few hours daily as advised by the therapist. They must be changed every day and the used seeds discarded.
The main advantage of seeds over micro magnets is that they are inexpensive to procure. However, the seeds fixed on the body parts need to be pressed with the fingers every half to one hour as advised by the therapist. The micro magnet do not need to be pressed as their magnetic energy level is potent enough to stimulate the acu points.
Colours can also be used on the acu points in place of micro magnets/seeds. They are particularly useful to apply on patients who are sensitive to micro magnets/seeds and on children, as the latter do not in many instances allow micro magnets/seeds to be fixed on their body surface. The type of colour used and the duration of application are decided by the therapist based on certain principles.
Moxibustion or moxa for short is another popular method to stimulate acu points. In this method, acu points are heated by burning dried leaves of certain plants over the acu points. This method is particularly effective in eliminating the effect of excess coldness energy in the body. Moxibustion is very popular in China but is presently not being practiced at the Sansthan
In addition to discovering acu points on the hands/feet, Prof. Park found that since hands/feet were a replica of the whole body, exact correspondence of various organs and parts of the body existed on the hands/feet. If a disease/disorder occurred in any organ or part of the body, it could be cured by stimulating the corresponding location on the hands/feet by needles, pressure or other methods. This correspondence system has found wide acceptance in India and is being practiced extensively at the Sansthan and its affiliate centers.
That is not all. Prof. Park through his pioneering research is the father of many other ancillary acu therapies such as tri origin based treatment, eight origin based treatment, six qi treatment, regional diagnosis/treatment, etc. Prof. Park has clubbed all such inventions of his under the generic term ‘Onnuri Medicine’.
All these treatment methods have been found by the Sansthan to be very useful and are covered in the syllabus of its various training courses. These methods proved their utility and became very popular when initially introduced at the Sansthan along with Sujok acupuncture/acupressure. However, owing to the advent of ayurvedic acupressure, an extremely potent invention of the Sansthan, onnuri medicine has taken a back seat.
Ayurvedic acupuncture/acupressure as generally understood across the world refers to the therapy in which ayurvedic principles of 'Vat', 'Pitta' and ‘Kapha’ are applied to points of Chinese acupuncture meridians. This therapy is fairly well known in many parts of the world and was initially practiced at the Sansthan. But subsequently, the Sansthan developed a purely Indian version whereby ayurvedic principles of ten elements are applied to an entirely new set of meridians and their points discovered by the Sansthan. The Indian version has no similarity with the Chinese version although it has been influenced by tri origin and eight origin theories of Prof. Park Jae Woo of Korea.
As per the basic principle of this new therapy as enunciated in the ancient Indian text of ‘Charak Sanhita’, the universe as well as the human body is composed of ten elements. Diseases occur as a result of disbalance of these ten elements in the body. The Sansthan has discovered that these ten elements can be represented on the ten fingers of the two hands as well as on the ten toes of the two feet. Treatment can be effected by stimulating the points of various meridians located on these fingers/toes as also on points of meridians located on palms, feet, wrists and ankles. Presently, treatment is given with the help of micro magnets, seeds and colours. Needles are not being used.
For more details of the therapy, refer to Introduction to Ayurvedic Acupressure.
As per Indian yogic philosophy and concept, seven major and thousands of minor chakras are located at various parts of the human body. These chakras, particularly the major chakras are dense forms of energy. Ancient Indian sages used to unleash the power of these chakras through meditation and other yogic actions. However, over a period of time this has become a dying art and the number of people who can perform such yogic feats is very small.
Sujok acupressure, Prof. Park’s invention, has found a way of marrying the power of yogic chakras with that of classical acupressure. The corresponding locations of seven major chakras have since been found to exist on the palms. Based on the characteristics of each individual chakra, acupressure treatment is given on the palms at the location of the desired chakra. Thus, these chakras have now come to provide a simple and effective technique to treat various difficult diseases by utilizing their inherent power.
Treatment is given at the chakra location by stimulating them with micro needles, micro magnets, seeds or colour. The Sansthan has carried forward the work of Prof. Park on the subject and yogic acupressure therapy is being used considerably at the Sansthan with good effect. The Sansthan has even published two books on the subject.
Electro acupuncture refers to the therapy in which acu points are stimulated by electrodes carrying minute electrical currents, the principles of treatment being the same as that of classical acupuncture. Whereas this therapy was already in vogue in many parts of the world, pioneering research in electro acupuncture was carried out by Dr. Reinhold Voll, an allopathic physician of Germany, around the mid twentieth century. This research was so extensive and its results so promising that it evolved into a therapy of its own and came to be known as ‘Electro Acupuncture According to Voll’ (EAV) after the name of its inventor.
The western world had hitherto looked upon Chinese acupuncture therapy as an invalidated system and not having a scientific base. Dr. Voll, with the help of electrical measuring instruments, demonstrated and validated the scientific base of various Chinese acupuncture points. He discovered eight new meridians on the palms and the feet to treat tissue disorders such as disorders of nervous tissues, skin tissues, fibrous tissues, etc. Dr. Voll also discovered a new eye meridian around the eye orbit to treat various disorders of the eyes.
Dr. Voll not only scientifically validated the existing Chinese acupuncture points, he discovered a large number of new points on the existing Chinese meridians. He also redefined a number of existing acu points and discovered new locations for these points. The high point of Dr. Voll’s research was his linking of minute parts of various body organs to specific acu points. For example, Dr. Voll found that specific points existed to treat individual parts of organs such as appendix, transverse colon, rectum, etc. in case of large intestine; cardia, fundus, pylorus, etc. in case of stomach; cardiac plexus, endocardium, myocardium, pulmonary valve, A.V. node, etc. in case of heart and similarly for all the parts of all the organs of the body.
Dr. Voll devised an instrument by the name of dermatron to measure the electrical resistance on the acu points. Depending upon the current reading obtained at various acu points, it became possible to tell whether an organ part related to that acu point was diseased and at what stage the disease process was at that point of time, i.e., acute, inflammatory, degenerative, chronic, etc. It became further possible to treat these diseased organs or their affected parts by stimulating their related acu points with the required dosage of electrical current.
Though the work of Dr. Voll holds vast promise in the field of diagnosis and treatment of most complex of diseases in an extremely simplistic, effective and comparatively inexpensive manner, it is yet to get due recognition from most of the medical fraternity. A few dermatron instruments have been imported by individual practioners in India from Germany. The Sansthan does not have this instrument and practices a modified version of EAV devised by itself by way of application of micro magnets or seeds on the acu points discovered by Dr. Voll. The Sansthan and its affiliate centers have found even this modified method of treatment extremely effective and useful.
The origin of reflexology can be traced back to ancient Egypt around 2300 BC. However, various physicians of USA and Europe developed a modern version of reflexology as an independent therapy around the early twentieth century. Reflexology can be said to be the fore runner to Sujok acupressure, in that the treatment is similarly carried out on the palms/feet but using only 38 points representing various organs and parts of the body. The locations of points in reflexology were arrived at through empirical research over a period of time. However, there appears to be no apparent logical relationship between the body organs/parts and their representative locations on the palms/feet.
The Sansthan’s history began in Mar 1995 with the adoption of reflexology as the sole method of treatment. The Sansthan found this therapy very effective at that time. However, with the introduction of sujok correspondence system at the Sansthan, reflexology got overtaken by the more potent sujok therapy. It was found that whereas reflexology had only 38 points and hence limited application, the number of points in the sujok correspondence system stretched to eternity.
Sujok correspondence system was based on the premise that each and every part of the body down to individual cell had an exact corresponding location on the palms/feet. Thus, the possibilities of sujok correspondence system were endless. The practice of reflexology thus gradually got discontinued at the Sansthan and its use at the Sansthan for all practical purpose has come to an end.