“Why are you sticking needles in my feet if my problem is a headache” It’s a common question and one of the things that mystifies patients about acupuncture. Up until now I’ve always answered, “because that is what I was taught to do”. The Meridians that run through the head run to the feet and I was taught to descend qi from the head by needling specific acupoints in the feet. Thousands of years of empirical experience have born this theory out and the experience of hundreds of patients at the YinOva center would attest to its efficacy. In fact some would argue that the experience of millions of Chinese people over thousands of years is all the evidence you need to show what a valuable technique acupuncture is. Those of you who know me, though, will know that I enjoy bringing the worlds of Chinese and conventional medicine together. It is interesting to me to look at traditional Chinese medical techniques from both perspectives. A new study caught my eye because it does just that. Traditionally acupuncturists have used a point on the little toe to address eye pain. The point is chosen because it is on the same meridian as the eye. Now scientists at UC Irvine have used an MRI to look at people’s brains whilst they are receiving acupuncture. What they found was that when the point for eye pain on the foot is stimulated the part of the brain that governs vision is activated. You can read about it here. How cool is that? Thousands of years of experience went into developing an intervention that on the surface is a bit of a mystery. Now modern technology is able to shed some light on how truly effective this ancient technique can be. So next time I’m sticking a needle in your foot to address an issue with your head you’ll know that not only am I descending qi in the appropriate channel but from a different perspective I’m also communicating with your brain.
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