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 Traditional Chinese Medicine: Modern Acupuncture Techniques 

The Pulse Reflex and Ear Acupuncture
Undoubtedly some of the most significant recent development in acupuncture have been achieved by Dr. Paul Nogier in France. The basis of many ideas that he puts forward depends on 'pulse reflex' which he calls the Auriculo-Cardiac Reflex (ACR). This reflex is distinct from the Chinese pulse diagnosis and seems to represent a completely new finding. The ACR seems to be a method of defining the response of the body to various stimuli but it was initially developed and used as a technique of point location for ear acupuncture.

The human body is a sophisticated biological system, and when exposed to any stimulus it should react. It has always been difficult to prove this because it has been difficult to measure the response exactly, but ACR will probably make it possible to effect this measurement. It seems reasonable to postulate that the more advanced the biological organism then the more pressure is on that organism to respond to small environmental changes. The automatic part of the nervous system seems to be best adapted to cope with these small but significant changes in the environment. This is the part of the nervous system the allows us to digest food and breathe without thought, and is called the autonomic nervous system. If a man is being chased by a lion he becomes frightened and the autonomic system aroused, releasing a variety of chemicals into the blood, such as adrenaline, thus giving the frightened man a surge of extra energy without extra conscious thought.

Dr. Nogier has claimed that the autonomic system also changes very slightly when exposed to any small stimulus, such as light on the skin. This small change can be felt in the pulse and this is the pulse reflex that is described as the ACR. The body is not consciously aware of all these small changes, if it was we would remain in a continual and unnecessary state of excitement; it responds and then adapts quickly and unconsciously the stimulus.

Dr. Nogier has used the ACR to develop a complete system diagnosis and point selection for ear acupuncture. It is a system which is not based on a knowledge of traditional Chinese ideas but relies solely on the use of the pulse reflex in controlled and defined clinical situations. It is probable that the autonomic system holds many of the answers to health and disease and it is likely that Dr. Nogier's work will prove to be of great significance, but at present it is not fully developed and validated.

The Electrical Properties of Acupuncture Points
A variety of electrical appliances have been used by acupuncturists to measure and quantify the skin's electrical resistance and conductance over acupuncture points, and one of the most sophisticated, and seemingly useful, is the apparatus developed by Dr. Voll in West Germany. He feels that acupuncture points are rather like batteries, and the charge on the acupuncture

point represents the state of health (or disease) of the point an the organ or tissue, deep in the body, which it represents. If the stomach is diseased, the points on the stomach channel (the. points are on the leg), will have an altered charge or, more exactly, an altered electro-motive force. There is a considerate body of research work that supports these ideas and proves that acupuncture points do have special electrical properties.

(Excerpted from Acupuncture-Its Place in Western Medical Science)
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 About The Author
George Lewith MA, MRCGP, MRCPGeorge Lewith attended Trinity College, Cambridge and Westminster Hospital Medical School. He has worked as a Senior House Officer and Registrar within the Westminster and University College Hospital Teaching Groups in......more
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