Seems like its time to add another update about what I have been doing.
Intellectually I have been delving into the past. I have taken up reading the Huangdi Neijing, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine that Chinese medicine sprang from and am getting along with it quite well. To break up the intensity I have also been reading the book of Chuang Tzu that contains often humorous tales regarding the philosophy of Taoism from where the natural philosophy of Chinese medicine has its origins.
On the material level I have been modernising a lot of my traditional equipment. First I acquired a cupping set with a trigger activated vacuum pump instead of the old fashioned fire method and more recently a TDP infrared lamp for heat therapy without the smoke and smell of moxa. With the cold suddenly setting in and I personally not enjoying the smell and smoke that moxa generates I was beginning to feel its an entire arm of my treatment repertoire that was effectively missing. I could generate heat using tui na friction techniques but that can be quite tiring if I have to do it often and is not possible to do over needles. This way I can use heat, acupuncture and electrotherapy all at the same time and am certainly finding that it feels like a more intense treatment when I do.
Modern alternatives to traditional therapies got me wondering what the future of acupuncture could be like. We already have a number of devices that can serve as an alternative to needles such as lasers and ultrasound devices and I have seen diagnostics carried out with infrared cameras to detect hot or cold spots, “point finders” that detect changes in electrical resistance and similar gadgetry. Maybe some day they will be able to make needles with a camera in the tip so that we can see exactly what we are doing instead of relying on our sense of touch and the patient’s response to inform us. If that happened we would only be missing a few customisable tips for specific tasks and our profession would start to tread a very thin line towards microsurgery!
Traditionally acupuncture has always straddled that line, being more invasive than massage but not as much as open surgery so it would not be at all out of line with its historical position. There is even a precedent for specialised needle designs with the Ling Shu, one of the earliest texts mentioning acupuncture, referring to the nine types of acupuncture needle, each for a particular task. The capacity to make modern tools the size of acupuncture needles exists already but they are too expensive to come in disposable packs like acupuncture needles and so remain the preserve of surgeons but who knows what the future may hold.
On a business level I was considering writing to local businesses to see if I could come in and do some treatments to maintain their employees health when in a classic case of synchronicity I received a call from a company that were trying to promote positive health initiatives amongst their staff and were looking for an acupuncturist to come in and give sample treatments. Currently I have two days scheduled at the end of September but I am hoping the event will prove to be a success and some of the participants will request me to come in again in which case I can set up a regular day or half day when I can be available for anyone that needs me or to give continuous treatments to people who find it helps. I have mentioned before that it seems likely that the future of acupuncture will be in working with businesses and this is my opportunity to be involved in that process.
All of this reminds me of why I went to study acupuncture specifically. It is such a unique discipline involving a wide spectrum of skills from understanding modern anatomy, reading medical research and keeping up to date on current techniques in physical therapies, to studying the history and philosophy of the traditions where acupuncture derives from that helps to shape the style of practice, provide practical tips and fill in the gaps in understanding that science is still debating, all the while trying to look to where a future in this practice may be. This combination of disciplines has made me certain that it should be a specialist subject since my days learning about it in anthropology classes. Fortunately all of these are areas where my interests lie making it the ideal career choice for me.