Advanced Acupuncture Techniques is a compilation of notes I took in class and seminars I’ve taken on advanced techniques. It is by no means comprehensive. There are hundreds of techniques out there yet to be explored. Whole libraries of advanced acupuncture techniques are waiting for you to discover. Nevertheless, here is my own library from my school experience. You will find more in the for-pay portion of this site.
Materials below are organized alphabetically by topic. My instructor for this series of topics (unless otherwise indicated) was the awesome Dr. Yuxing Liu. Great sense of humor, fantastic command of his subject matter, and an excellent instructor.
Auriculo-acupuncture is one of the many microsystems of the body. Microsystems are holographic representations of the whole body super-imposed on smaller parts like ears, feet, the 2nd metacarpal bone, the abdomen, etc. You might even count the back shu points as a sort of microsystem since you can use just back points to treat the entire body.
I’m a huge fan of auricular acupuncture and have been amazed at how much it can help patients. As a matter of fact, one of my first ventures as a licensed practitioner was to go to a local fair and offer free auricular acupuncture for stress relief. Dumb idea. Everyone was there to have fun, so they had no stress at the moment.
I was overwhelmed at the various things people did want, however. The complaints and requests for help included back pain, neck pain, headache, stomach upset, dermatitis, asthma, and more. And all I had were ear needles. To my amazement, every single person reported great improvement with just 10-20 minutes in the chair. I formed an impromptu acupuncture lounge and had up to 15 people at a time sitting around chatting and listening to music.
This netted me no clients whatsoever, but did further convince me as to the efficacy of auriculotherapy.
Acupuncture techniques from the Neijing
Techniques from Ling Shu or Spiritual Pivot are the basis of classical acupuncture. It details 151 points, many techniques, and several types of needles. Very much worth knowing!
The Nine Kinds Needling Techniques or Jiu Ci
The Twelve Kinds Needling Techniques (to treat the Twelve Meridians)
The Five Needling Techniques (to treat the Five Zang)
Triple Layer and Qi Directing Techniques (see page 4)
This text discusses diagnosis and technique. It introduces the concept of using 2 hands when needling, using one hand to pinch, press, or stretch and the other to insert. This is about needling the wei and the ying layers of the body. (See page 5 of the document linked above.)
These techniques include methods for needle manipulation. Here you will find Blue Dragon Wagging Tail, White Tiger Shaking Head, Black Tortoise Seeking Hole, and Red Phoenix Meeting Source.
From the Great Compendium of Acupuncture. These techniques include heat inducing, cool inducing, Yin Hiding in Yang (fever following cold symptoms), and Yang Hiding in Yin (cold or chill signs following heat). This also details reinforcing and reducing methods introduced in basic techniques, dragon-tiger struggle method for reducing pain, retention of Qi, and repeated lifting and pressing methods.
These come from various sources and are found in the last section of Dr. Liu’s slides, linked above in the subtitle. These include ways to strengthen warming, methods to reduce cold, to activate and lift qi, and tremor needling to stimulate weak muscles and poor qi.
Another microsystem, Koryo Hand Therapy was developed by Dr. Tae Woo Yoo in 1971 and is based on TCM meridian theory. KHT maps the whole body onto the palmar and dorsal aspects of the hand. It’s not exactly the most comfortable therapy I’ve ever had, but is certainly effective and easy to do on the fly with something as non-technical as a ballpoint pen. I’ve also used an ear point probe for the initial stimulation (holding it in place for about 10 of the patient’s inhale/exhale cycles) and then put an ear seed in the divot the probe leaves. Works great for quick treatments instead of needles.
Master Tung’s Acupuncture System
This is definitely an advanced acupuncture techniques topic. At first glance, Master Tung Acupuncture looks nothing like the TCM acupuncture you learned in school. Many of my professors even referred to it as a series of extra points. But if you look deeper, you see it is very much a channel based system. Thorough study of Tung acupuncture will reveal combinations of points that include what you studied in Point Locations.
Long before there was TCM there were many family systems of acupuncture in China, passed down to family members and few others. What we now know as “Traditional Chinese Medicine” was actually formulated by committee in the mid-20th century by the Chinese Communist Party after the devastating purge of traditional Chinese medical wisdom during the Cultural Revolution. Many truly traditional practitioners were killed, jailed, or fled the country. The old family systems were lost or went underground in much of the country. Master Tung escaped the Cultural Revolution and fled to Taiwan. His family was killed, so he began to pass his wisdom on to practitioners who wanted to learn from him.
Tung acupuncture is heavily grounded in meridian theory and makes extensive use of balancing methods of treatment. If you want to know more about this truly miraculous system of acupuncture and how it works, read Lectures on Tung’s Acupuncture: Therapeutic System by Dr. Wei-Chieh Young or save up your pennies and study with Susan Johnson. They are both amazing.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, there are about 6 ways to spell any given Chinese name or word. Master Tung is spelled Tung, Tong, Dung, Dong and at least a couple of other ways. Why? Because we have Western ears and anglicize what we hear as best we can.
Microsystems are holographic representations of the whole body super-imposed on smaller parts like ears, feet, the 2nd metacarpal bone, the hand, the abdomen, etc. You might even count the back shu points as a sort of microsystem since you can use just back points to treat the entire body. Hara diagnosis is another form of microsystem, using palpatory diagnosis on the abdomen to find problems throughout the body. Master Tung’s acupuncture uses a lot of microsystems also – a series of points on the thumb called Wu Hu (or Five Tigers) represents the head, fingers, toes, etc.
Reflexology is one of the many “microsystems” of the body, meaning that the whole body is reflected in the feet and lower legs.
Who doesn’t love a foot massage? Well, ok, there are a few, but most people really appreciate it. This can be a really nice way to send your patients out the door if they are open to it and can re-emphasize the treatment you gave them. This is also a nice thing to teach to people for self-care.
There are a couple of flavors of scalp acupuncture. The traditional Chinese version Dr. Jiao’s Scalp Acupuncture. It is based on cerebral anatomy and physiology. International Standard Scalp Acupuncture is more widely accepted in the world and is based more on traditional meridian therapy and acupuncture points on the head.
Both of these schools as well as painless (or less pain, depending on your level of sensory sensitivity) needling technique for the scalp are included in Dr. Liu’s slides.
You can find even more on International Scalp Acupuncture in this seminar presentation by Dr. Xiaotian Shen.
This is a microsystem mapped onto the 2nd metacarpal bone. I find it to be kind of painful so I’m not a fan of it, but is an excellent and easy way to understand microsystems.
Tan’s Balance Method
Dr. Tan’s methods are sheer badassery. Benefits include fewer needles used and fast results all without needling directly into the parts that already hurt. There is an old Chinese saying: “When the baby is hurt, don’t hurt the baby.” That means if you sprain your ankle, for example, it is considered to be in poor form to needle that ankle. With the Tan method you might needle the wrist on the opposite side or perhaps the hip.
This system takes some time to learn, but it is awesome once you do. Also, it’s a great introduction into the concept of balance in the body meridians and points that you see detailed more thoroughly in Master Tung’s system.
Threading is needling one point, but needling through or toward another point. One of the most common examples is needling Large Intestine 20 next to the nose and pushing the needle up and over the bone toward an extra point called Bitong to help open the sinuses. Another is needling the Sishencong points toward Du 20 on the scalp.
This is a simple microsystem to use and master. Great starter pack for quick treatments.