I am often asked, "How
do neural therapy and acupuncture compare?" - a fair question, but not an
easy one to answer. The main difficulty
is that they are similar in some respects, but different in many others.
Both systems lie outside the medical mainstream; both use
needles and both achieve results where "conventional" medicine has reached its
limit. But beyond these similarities lie some big differences.
Acupuncture derives from a four thousand year old medical
tradition, rich in clinical observation, but (until recently) devoid of what we
in the West would call a scientific basis.
Neural therapy is only decades
old and right from its beginning has been an offspring of Western physiology,
anatomy and biophysics.
Despite these similarities and differences, there are areas in which the two systems
overlap. It did not take long for
neural therapists to discover that injecting procaine into certain acupuncture
points had powerful remote effects. For
example Yintang (Extra 1) and Zanzhu (U.B. 2)
(points between the eyebrows), and Hegu (L.I.4)) in the thenar eminence
are used in treating facial sinus interference fields. And in the 1950s Voll (using galvanometric
measurements) discovered that each tooth lies on an acupuncture meridian and
that neural therapy of the tooth can treat organs and structures along that
Those using autonomic response testing know that touching an
active acupuncture point will trigger an autonomic response (weakening or
strengthening of an indicator muscle).
In the case of Zhongfu (lung 1), an "alarm point", an autonomic response
indicates that the lung itself is an interference field.
Western anatomical study of the acupuncture point has
demonstrated that it is a real structure,
a "window" through the dermis connecting the extracellular space or matrix,
with the outside world. It is richly
supplied with autonomic nerve fibers, thus suggesting that one of the effects
of acupuncture could be to stimulate the autonomic nervous system.
Also the effect of the needle puncture itself, quite apart
from the procaine injection, was shown in the 1970s by Pischinger to have
effects on systemic biochemistry lasting days (the "puncture effect"). Could
it be that at times neural therapists are accidentally and unknowingly
Be that as it may, there are times when neural therapy
succeeds where acupuncture fails, and other times when acupuncture succeeds
where neural therapy has failed. In any
case, the neural therapist makes a good
investment in time to learn at least some acupuncture.
One area of acupuncture theory of practical value to the
neural therapist is the location of the acupuncture meridians. It is not necessary to memorize every point,
but a good general knowledge pays dividends.
For example, the stomach meridians cross the cheeks, more or less in the
area where one finds rosacea. Rosacea
has more than one cause, but stomach trouble, especially hypochlorhydria is one
Pain can sometimes be
felt along an acupuncture meridian or in a specific spot corresponding to an
interference field in the organ of that meridian. Unexplained leg pains can sometimes be traced
along a path indicating interference fields in the liver or gall bladder. I have seen pain corresponding to the bizarre
zigzag pattern of the gall bladder meridian on the side of the head.
Recently a patient presented in my
office with pain at the base of her first metacarpal. Pain in this area, especially if it is
bilateral, is sometimes caused by a stomach problem, (perhaps referral to the
C6 dermatome?). However in this case the
patient had an interference field in the ipsilateral lung. (The painful spot in the wrist was near
Taiyuan, lung 9). Neural therapy of the lung produced immediate relief of the wrist pain. Repeat sessions cured it.
Another interesting case involving a lung acupuncture point
was a patient with constant shoulder pain precipitated by a steroid injection
into the shoulder joint. My first
thought was that the puncture site itself (an anterior approach) was an
interference field, as autonomic response testing over the injection site was
positive. However neural therapy of the
injection site gave indifferent results.
It was then I wondered if the autonomic response might have something to
do with the lung, as it coincided more or less with acupuncture point Zhongfu
(Lung1). Neural therapy of the lung gave instant relief of the shoulder pain.
My knowledge of acupuncture is quite limited and I suspect
many of my readers could say more about the interconnections of neural therapy
and acupuncture than I can. However I
offer these observations simply as an encouragement for readers to be alert to the possibilities of combining perspectives
from different medical traditions. As
always, comments (and corrections) from readers are welcome.
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