Superficial Japanese Style Needling Compared with TCM Style Electro Acupuncture

By Chad Dupuis
Tagged in Acupuncture and Research

Many patients are trying acupuncture for the very first time and are generally unaware of the vast differences in needling styles between various forms of acupuncture (Japanese, Korean, TCM, Five Element, etc.) and from practitioner to practitioner within each style.  On the practitioner side many hold firmly to debatable ideas about obtaining qi through heavy needle manipulation and other such concepts that some take as truth.  Japanese acupuncture has many unique aspects both diagnostically and practically - technique-wise - and generally uses lighter needle stimulation.  The following study performed by researchers at the College of Oriental Medicine at Kyung Hee University in Seoul looked at internal changes from superficial (Japanese-style) needling compared with TCM-style electro-acupuncture needling (*drawn from previously conducted studies).

Researchers needled the commonly used acupuncture points LI 4 and LI 11  in healthy participants.  The researchers analyzed changes of regional cerebral blood flow to judge the relative effectiveness of needling.  Using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) researchers can analyze changes in a variety of areas in the brain which indicate the potential for changing internal health issues.  They found that superficial acupuncture on LI 4 and LI 11 significantly increased cerebral blood prefusion in the left superior frontal gyrus, left middle cingulum, left insular, right medial orbital frontal gyrus, and right middle cingulum.  No other regions showed significant decreases in activity. 

Following needling there were increased perfusion rates in the right lingual, both thalamus, left middle temporal gyrus, left insula, and both cerebellum.

Generally the study found mild clinical differences between superficial acupuncture and tcm-style electro-acupuncture.  Further studies of this nature should be performed to allow us to have educated discussions on which techniques are best for which conditions.

Superficial Japanese Style Needling Compared with TCM Style Electro Acupuncture

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Authored by: Chad Dupuis on 10 April 2011

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