Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Guide to Clinical Practice
B. Auteroche, G. Gervais, M. Auteroche, P. Navailh, E. Toui-Kan. Churchill Livingstone, 1992 Hardback, illustrated, 168 pages £27.95
(Reviewed by Alan Treharne, EJOM Vol. 1 No. 1)
This book is a very practical ‘how-to-do-it’ manual which covers the ‘nuts and bolts’ of needling, moxibustion and cupping. Each method of treatment is introduced by a brief historical sketch enriched by quotes from the classics. The reader finds clearly explained and detailed instructions on needling methods, applications, contraindications and special tips. Numerous photographs and illustrations facilitate the absorption of the text so that the reader can begin to practise the many needling techniques presented with confidence.
The authors introduce many different types of needles but dismiss the use of disposable needles and guide tubes as not worthy of consideration. I feel this is a grave oversight in view of the current trend toward ‘clean needling technique’ as is standardised in the USA and the necessity of scrupulous hygiene with respect to AIDS and the needs of the Western public.
I hope the authors will apply their excellent writing style and attentive research to this area of acupuncture, so that in the next edition needle techniques which do not involve directly touching the body of the needle are clearly given preferential treatment. In this context, mention of the thinner gauges, sterilised cotton, disposable rubber gloves, Japanese needles and practitioner hygiene could be included.
Even with this omission in mind I recommend Acupuncture and Moxibustion - A Clinical Guide to Practice as an invaluable textbook for acupuncture students and as a reference and resource tool for more experienced acupuncturists interested in refining and expanding their skills.
The acupuncture portion of the book teaches simple qi gong finger exercises for enhancing needle technique, needle insertion methods, practice exercises and how to recognise and utilise de qi. Precise needling techniques are explained in depth, i.e. tonification, sedation, quick/slow insertion, lift and thrust, rapid and slow rotation, direction of insertion and opened/closed points, etc., leading to a range of more complex methods such as ‘lighting the fire on the mountain’ and ‘coolness of heaven’. Diverse types of needles and their uses are given equal attention such as subcutaneous needling, seven star hammer, embedding needling, bleeding points, the long needle, paediatric needling, warming needling etc.
The history, nature, properties and manufacture of moxa and moxibustion and the uses and contraindications of direct and indirect moxibustion therapy are given generous coverage. More adventurous readers could even attempt to make specially medicated moxa sticks using the instructions provided. Cupping and massage is also introduced.
Point locations are given in both the Chinese and English system of abbreviation and number, accommodating acupuncturists of different training.
An illustrated self-instructional qi gong series closes the book and after only briefly trying the five exercises recommended I felt rejuvenated. Their purpose is to increase the sensitivity of the practitioner and are included in the ten-month home study training outlined at the end of the book. This text is not only a practical guide; it encourages the acupuncture community to connect with the historical context of traditional Chinese medicine and to cultivate our skills with a spiritual component.
One of the many quotes from the book, Su Wen 54:
"His hand is held as if restraining a tiger. He keeps his eyes from straying. The shen should not be dispersed but is concentrated as if waiting for someone important."