Symbol of the Establishment of Acupuncture
There is a great classic acupuncture book that focuses on clinical practice in ancient China. No one made more contributions to the modern theoretical acupuncture system than this book among all ancient acupuncture books.
This classic is Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (针灸甲乙经), translated as Systemic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. It built the foundation and structure for practicing acupuncture. It has directly or indirectly guided the acupuncture practice from 282 AD to today.
There would be no acupuncture profession if Huangfu Mi did not creatively write this treatise 1700 years ago. His work was a mandatory textbook in medical schools in ancient China. It served as the motherboard of modern acupuncture textbooks.
Nowadays, acupuncture masters dig into this book to better understand acupuncture and borrow precious experience from Dr. Huangfu Mi.
The First Book for Acupuncture Practice
Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing is a classic clinical book based on the classic theoretical book Ling Shu (灵枢, Miraculous Pivot).
Ling Shu is the classic covering physiology, pathology, etiology, the overall structure of meridians and collaterals and 160 acupoints along 14 regular meridians. It set up general principles for treatment, like stimulating certain meridians to treat certain diseases. Unfortunately, there is no detailed instruction about how to do it.
In Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing, Hungfu Mi wove his clinical acupuncture experience with the theories from Ling Shu. He discussed 200 diseases (or symptoms), including many gynecological and pediatric disorders. There are about 500 formulas of acupoint combination.
Here are a few examples of how he chose acupuncture points to treat different diseases.
He used the acupoints of Qian Ding (Du 21), Lu Hui (Du 22) and Tian Zhu (BL 10) to treat young kids’ convulsions. He would choose Lin Qi (GB15) to treat a kid who could not move his eyes normally (stuck at a certain angle). For an adult with mania combined with headache, tinnitus and achy eyes, He would select Zhong Du (SJ3).
There are detailed instructions on how to perform a treatment. Huangfu Mi explicated skills for locating acupoints, holding a needle, inserting a needle, knowing needling depth and direction, and manipulating needles.
He also described how to apply a moxa cone and how many cones could be used at specific acupoints.
For example, he wrote: acupoint Bai Hui (Du 20), located at 1.5 cun posterior to Qian Ding (Du 21), at the center of the head, in the whorl of head hair, the dent which big enough to rest of fingertip, the convergence of Du meridian and foot Tai Yang meridian, needle insertion of 0.3 cun, burning 3 cones of moxa.
One more example is how to insert a needle. For the limited mobility of a forearm and palm, an acupuncturist should locate the point posterior to the ankle, press it, let the patient feel an ache, and then insert a needle.
He warned that 13 dangerous acupoints bring life-threatening risks if needled in the wrong direction or depth. He emphasized avoiding adverse effects from improper treatment and explained counter-indications of acupuncture and acu-moxa.
He described that if a needle was inserted into the heart, the patient must die in 24 hours; he was terrified and dared not move. If a lung was punctured, the patient must die in 3 days; he coughed severely and dared not to move the body. Needling Nao Hu (Du 17), a patient would die immediately if the needle got into the brain.
A Book full of Innovation
Based on Ling Shu, but not limited by the classic, Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing added branches and leaves to Ling Shu, the root of the trunk of the acupuncture tree.
There were 160 acupoints in Ling shu; Huangfu Mi added 189 acupoints into the channel and collateral system, topping the whole number to 349. He identified about 80 crossing acupoints (jiao hui Xue, 交会穴) and defined that there were only about 100 points emitting meridian qi.
He found a convenient way of lining acupoints in different body surface areas, like the head, back, and abdomen. He added five shu points of hand shao-yin heart meridian into five shu points, thus enriching the content of the five shu points (below elbows and knees).
Huangfu Mi added detailed explanations to 12 regular meridians, 8 extra meridians, 15 collaterals, 12 divergent meridians and 12 muscle regions. He systemically explained their physiology, flowing routes, circulation features and associated diseases.
The Book Structure Featured Alternative Medicine
There are two parts to this book. The first part is about basic acupuncture theories originating from Miraculous Pivot. It consists of six volumes covering the theory of zang-fu, yin yang and qi and blood, acupoints, channels, diagnosis, needle manipulation, and needle contraindication.
The second part is about clinical practice, with another six volumes covering external disorders, internal disorders, five-sense organ disorders, gynecological disorders and children’s diseases.
For each disease, there is detailed information about how to make a diagnosis and perform the treatment. All essential parts are listed: etiology, pathology, clinical manifestation, diagnosis, methods of selecting and locating acupoints, applying acupuncture and acu-moxa, and prognosis.