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Najom Article Special Series

Special Series: East Meets West
My experience from studying with some of the most renowned acupuncture teachers through- out the world is that we are all in the process of learning to be better practitioners. My teachers’ methods have always evolved over time, as have my own. I do not arbitrarily reject western medi- cal discoveries as being able to contribute to this process, but in actuality, I have found that my personal development as a practitioner has been due more to a careful study of the Oriental classics cited above. I hope to publish an account of what I have learned from studying these classics in the near future. Finally I would like to emphasize the point I made at the beginning: neither eastern nor western medicine is a superior discipline. They both have much to contribute to human health and welfare. Let’s just try not to reduce either approach to its complement. Healthcare is a big enough field to include both.
Peter Eckman, BSc, PhD, MD, Lic.Ac. completed his western medical training at New York Univer- sity in 1972, an internship in San Francisco in 1973 and graduate work in Los Angeles in 1973. He received his acupuncture license from the College of Chinese Acupuncture, Oxford, England in 1974. Dr. Eckman (www.petereckmanacupuncture. com) has two practice locations, one in the Noe Valley district of San Francisco and the other in Palo Alto, California. His books include:
In the Footsteps of the Yellow Emperor: Tracing the History of Traditional Acupuncture, Peter Eckman, revised paperback edition, Long River Press, San Francisco, 2007.
Power of the Five Elements: The Chinese Medicine Path to Healthy Aging and Stress Resistance, Charles Moss, Foreword by Peter Eckman, North Atlantic Bokks, Berkeley, 2010.
The Compleat Acupuncturist: A Guide to Consti- tutional and Conditional Pulse Diagnosis, Peter Eckman, Singing Dragon Press, London, 2014.
Where We Are Going Is Where We Have Been: Considering an Integration of Eastern and Western Medicines
by Katrine B. Hegillman (formerly Katarzyna Heigelmann)
Acupuncture is more popular than ever in the west – and also under more scrutiny than ever. Pressure for this ancient medicine to prove itself in terms of effectiveness and safety and to explain itself in a language that makes sense to us is coming from every direction. There are the detractors – medical experts – who cite certain scientific trials as proof that acupuncture is an elaborate placebo, more witchcraft than science. There are acupuncture practitioners, seeking to increase the credibility, and the depth, of their work. And there are the patients – who know acupuncture’s benefits and seek the increased access an integrated eastern and western medical system might offer.
The argument that acupuncture is not a science can be put to rest simply by opening our dictionaries. Says one source, “The central theme in scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical which means it is based on evidence... Empirical data is produced by experiment and observation.”1 Acupuncture, discovered by the Chinese more than 2,600 years ago and tested worldwide since then, meets this definition ironically even more than modern western medicine (we can point the recent reversal on low-fat diets, and the risks of sugar, painkillers, and so on).
We might think a growing respect for acupuncture in mainstream society would help open the door to cooperation between the two medical systems, eastern and western, as long as we are diligent with our scientific method. However, there are still fundamental differences between the two, prompting questions about whether a functional integration is possible.
Yin and Yang
Dr. Manfred Porkert (1933-2015), a German doctor with a deep interest in Chinese medicine, summa- rized these major differences nearly half a century ago in his book, The Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: System of Correspondences:
“Chinese medicine, like other Chinese sciences, defines data on the basis of the inductive and syn-
NAJOM VOLUME 23 NUMBER 68 thetic mode of cognition. Inductivity corresponds
to a logical link between two effective positions existing at the same time in different places in space. (Conversely, causality is the logical link between two effective positions given at different times at the same place in space.) Now Western man, as a consequence of two thousand years of intellectual tradition, persists in the habit of making causal connections first and, inductive links, if at all, only as an afterthought. This habit must still be considered the biggest obstacle to an adequate appreciation of Chinese science in general and of Chinese medicine in particular. Given such different cognitive bases, many of the apparent similarities between traditional Chinese and European science which attract the attention of positivists turn out to be spurious.”2
In simplest terms, the reasoning behind traditional Chinese medicine is inductive and synthetic: we make observations, discern a pattern, and infer a theory.Weobserveqi,theconstantdanceofyinand yang, and the five elements; we palpate meridians, pulses, and the hara. Western medicine adopts a predominantly deductive or causal mode of cogni- tion, starting first with the theory or hypothesis and then finding substantiating observations. It tests for specific diseases at a given moment using precision tools and exact measurements. So, is a marriage possible?
Working Together
My own empirical observation of an east-west medical interface occurred during my practicum in 1998-1999 at China’s Anhui Hospital. Here, as in many Chinese hospitals, TCM and western medicine co-exist: doctors shift seamlessly from one language and philosophy to another, providing the patient with the most effective care possible in any given situation. I was surprised how quickly stroke patients progressed with the incorporation of acupuncture and moxibustion.
Japanese acupuncture is uniquely positioned to bridge gaps in the language, imagery, and analytical approaches of the two sciences. Many practitioners and researchers in this field, some highly renowned, are also specialists in western medicine – doctors who have discovered for them- selves that acupuncture can in certain cases be a better choice than western medicine. Many of us are familiar with Dr. Manaka Yoshio (1911-1989) who developed the use of ion-pumping cords to treat victims of radiation burns and then went on to develop an entire acupuncture system that uses the cords’ capacity for directing energy to quickly and effectively move stagnation in the channels and treat a wide number of conditions.

november 2016
Special Series: East Meets West
Dr. Keizo Hashimoto (1897-1993) was a neurologist who noticed that his colleagues using shiatsu, acupuncture, and moxibustion in many instances obtained better results than practitioners of western medicine. He immersed himself in the study of traditional Oriental medicine and went on to develop So Tai Ho (sotai), a technique that uses speci c movements and breath to restore structural balance and in uence the neurological system.3 With a sotai, “Your organs can start danc- ing the hula!” as Peter Thompson, LAc, explained at the Sotai Summit in Boulder Colorado earlier this year (see article this issue).
What has evolved in the Japanese styles is a dis- course that blends the specialized terminology of both western medicine and eastern medicine. Kiiko Matsumoto Sensei, another internationally in uential Japanese-style acupuncturist, is espe- cially adept at this merging of the two languages to explain and deepen the work of her late teacher Master Kiyoshi Nagano. Master Nagano, although blind, memorized the Chinese classics, and over the course of his dedicated practice found remark- able parallels between acupuncture and western anatomy and medical discoveries. Matsumoto Sensei uses her empirical knowledge of parallels between the ancient language and modern medi- cine in a very comprehensive way.4 For example, her protocol for diagnosing neurological imbal- ances calls for the palpation of speci c points on the sternocleidomastoid muscle and a treatment that generally consists of four points on the triple heater and gallbladder channels. Treatment ef- cacy is indicated by the release of muscles in the neck and a timely reduction of the symptoms.
Dr. Daniel Keown, a British medical doctor and student of the Chinese Dr. Wang Ju-Yi, has turned the east-west dialogue upside down in his book, The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine.5 In fascinating depth, he explores some of the greatest mysteries of the human body, tying the development of the embryo, limb regenera- tion and electrical currents conducted along the fascia to concepts such as qi, meridians, and yin and yang. In his epilogue he reminds us that the links between eastern and western medicine are right under our noses; he urges us to follow and respect the classics of Oriental medicine, and to build on them. “There is a science of Acupuncture, but in order to discover it we need to be scienti c.”
Remember Our Roots
The work of pioneers like Keown, Manaka, Hashi- moto, Matsumoto, and Nagano suggest how well suited integration is particularly to the emerging
eld of neurology. However, as we pursue new theories and technologies that bring into clearer focus such concepts as qi, we must be very care- ful not to forsake the wisdom of classics like the Nan Jing and Shang Han Lun – as long as we call ourselves acupuncturists and represent the ancient lineages of Oriental medicine.
Standing guard over our traditions is Ikeda Ma- sakazu Sensei. His books, translated into English by Edward Obaidey Sensei, should be mandatory reading for all practitioners of Japanese-style acupuncture. Chapter by chapter, The Practice of Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion: Classic Principles in Action explains the classical pat- terns of physiology, pathology, and treatment.6 There is no “westernized” view or adaptations in Ikeda Sensei’s teachings. This stands in contrast to many books that blend classical views with a more modern method or style and incorporate contemporary “empirical” points: these cannot be said to stand the test of time.
The authentic classics possess a depth that is in many ways bottomless; their value not yet fully realized. Right from the get go in Chapter 1, the Nan Jing discusses the breath. With every inhalation and exhalation, as the ancients have measured it, our qi will move through the body an average of 6 cun. Also, we are taught, the total length of the meridians and collaterals is 1,620 cun, and therefore, it takes 270 breaths for qi to circulate through the entire body. The Ling Shu addresses qi and blood, cycling through our bodies 50 times a day (Chapter 18). Life is about breath and qi: this is why the classics begin exactly were life does, with the breath.
Oriental medicine requires knowledge and skills that cannot be attained in a classroom. There must be the “experience” of touching the patient, the observation and analysis of the patient’s condi- tion – performed with suf cient skill to render a treatment, which also calls upon our highly re ned senses. Western medicine relies heavily on measurements and statistical comparisons for diagnosis and assessment of treatment ef cacy. As our two medicines move forward together, we must protect and nourish our capacity to feel, to know, with our senses.
In Summary
A discussion of the integration of eastern and western medicine raises possibilities, questions, and red ags. What are the bene ts of such an al- liance? Can there really be a functional fusion of what appear to be polar opposites: one based on inductive logic, the other emphasizing deductive reasoning. Can integration be a gateway to new
discoveries? Will integration degrade the “purity” of our ancient teachings and abilities to a point that we might lose them altogether? Is integration our only choice if we want acupuncture to achieve mainstream status in modern society?
There is much grist for ongoing discussion and debate; but for now, there seems to be momen- tum for a co-emergence: we can already see how greater communication between practitioners and patients experienced in both medicines is serving to increase the popularity of, and hopefully access to, acupuncture. Ultimately, however, our goal should always be to follow the path that helps our patients get better.
2. Porkert, M. 1974. Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspond- ence. MIT press, p. 1.
3. Hashimoto, K. 1981. Sotai Natural Exercise. George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation.
4. Matsumoto, K and Euler, D. 2007-8. Kiiko Mat- sumoto’s Clinical Strategies: In The Spirit of Master Nagano, Volume 1 and 2, Natick, MA: Kiiko Matsumoto International.
5. Keown, D. 2014. The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine. London: Singing Dragon.
6. Ikeda M. 2005. The Practice of Japanese Acu- puncture and Moxibustion: Classic Principles in Action. Trans. Edward Obaidey. Eastland Press.
Katrine B. Hegillman, BSc, Dr. TCM, lives in Vic- toria, Canada. She graduated in 1999 from the ICTCM of Vancouver and since 2005 has fully immersed herself in the study and practice of Japanese acupuncture. For more about Katrine and her work see


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