Why a Needle?

    The needle must be used to treat the patient because the acupuncture point is under the skin. The tip of the needle touches the acupuncture point and begins the healing process. Ling Shu, chapter one describes the functional part of the needle as being the tip, “神在秋毫” “the spirit is at the tip.”*
    If the needle penetrates too deeply it will not have a curative effect. Despite popular belief that acupressure is effective as acupuncture, such massage techniques where the acupuncture point it pressed with the fingers does not effect the balance of Ren Ying and Cun Kou pulse. If the pulse is not balanced after the treatment, the patient will not be cured. Another aspect that makes the use of needles crucial is the location of the acupuncture point.
    Chapter one of Ling Shu states, “节之交,三百六十五会,知其要者,一言而终,不知其要,流散无穷。所言节者,神气之所游行出入也,非皮肉筋骨也。” “Through out the entire body, there are 365 acupuncture points, the one that knows their crux, needs to be told only once, the ignorant fumbles without end. Each acupuncture point is located where the qi drifts and flows out and in, below the skin, between the muscles, along side the tendons, and above the bones.”  A massage therapist pushes on the surface of the skin but cannot pierce the surface of the skin. A needle can reach the exact location of the acupuncture point. Without penetrating the skin the acupuncture point cannot be tonified or sedated.
    Nei Jing lists few major acupuncture techniques that only slightly differ from the following premise found in Ling Shu, chapter one, “持针之道,坚者为宝,正指直刺,无针左右,神在秋毫,属意病者,审视血脉者,刺之无殆。” “Technique for holding the needle, hold firmly as if holding a precious treasure, the fingers must be securely set for perpendicular insertion, do not needle [to the] left or right, the spirit is at the tip, the doctor [must] focus the intention on the disease, check the pulse, acupuncture must not endanger the patient.”  The treatment of disease unfalteringly follows this foundational statement. The location of the acupuncture point is specific. If the tip of the needle has to touch the point, then inserting the needle at any other angle will cause the acupuncture point to be missed. The pulse will not regain balance and the patient’s condition will not improve.
    Acupuncture points are locations where disease enters the body.  Su Wen, chapter sixty-two explains all sites where pathogens enter the body.  “人有精气津液,四支,九窍,五藏,十六部,三百六十五节,乃生百病,百病之生,皆有虚实。” “Humans have Jing, Qi, Jin, Ye, four limbs, nine orifices, five zang organs, six fu organs, sixteen channels, three hundred sixty-five acupuncture points, where the hundred diseases can develop, in the development of the hundred diseases each has its deficient [aspects] and excessive [aspects].”  Su Wen, chapter ten adds the needle into this equation, “人有大谷十二分,小溪三百五十四名,少十二俞,此皆卫气所留止,邪气之所客也,针石缘而去之。” “Humans have twelve major meridians dividing [the body], three hundred fifty-four acupuncture points along with twelve more shu points, these are all for the Wei Qi to flow, pathogenic Qi can enter here, like a visitor, the needle’s sharp end expels [the pathogen].”  This is how acupuncture points are simultaneously linked to the development and treatment of disease.  The acupuncture needles are used to directly treat disease at the acupuncture point.

*“神在秋毫” is literally, “the spirit is at the autumn down,” or the new down feathers with fine tips.  Obviously a tender reference to the tip of the needle.

Published by Raul Ramirez, L.Ac., Ph.D.

Physician, Catch Wrestler, Kickboxer, Vegan, Progressive

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