Neuropuncture: A Clinical Handbook of Neuroscience Acupuncture
Neuropuncture: A Clinical Handbook of Neuroscience Acupuncture Second Edition Michael D Corradino Foreword by Giovanni Maciocia Publishers: Singing Dragon, London, 2017 Paperback: 168 pages ISBN: 978-1-84819-331-4 (eISBN 978-0-85701-287-6) RRP: £30.00
(Reviewed by David Mayor, EJOM Vol.9 No.1)
‘In my opinion, to be a physician of acupuncture, you must first understand neuroscience. It is the micro and macro of acupuncture today!’ (p. 27)
Michael Corradino is an experienced, traditionally trained California-based acupuncturist, with a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is clearly energetic and charismatic, busy both with his San Diego practice and with educating others in the ‘Neuropuncture’ methods he has devised, in which traditional acupuncture is integrated with neuroscience. Information about this second edition of his compact and attractively produced book on Neuropuncture can be found in many different places on the web. The late Giovanni Maciocia’s foreword emphasises that Corradino’s approach is ‘firmly in Sun Si Miao’s tradition of tolerance and integration’, and that it does not ‘diminish or invalidate’ traditional acupuncture in any way.
The author is keen ‘to reach the masses’ (p. 11), so some readers may find his language a little broad-brush and over-enthusiastic from time to time. In particular, any neurophysiology specialists will find much to question. However, his basic premise, that there are parallels between the wiring of the afferent nerves and the traditional acupuncture meridians (channels) is attractive, and certainly allows for some interesting treatment protocols, most of which use electroacupuncture (EA) in some form or other.
Of course, he is not alone in looking at nerve pathways when designing acupuncture protocols. This is the approach taken by many proponents of Western medical acupuncture, and even by those with a more traditional acupuncture background, such as Sean Walsh, who emphasises the importance of considering the peripheral sensory nerves just as much as the muscles and acupuncture points when designing EA treatment protocols. Indeed, although I don’t agree with everything Sean Walsh has written, I do appreciate his more restrained approach. As he writes, whatever method is used to select where to treat, ‘an appropriate level of knowledge of the nervous system is essential to achieve the treatment objectives’ and ‘Although there are significant similarities when peripheral nerve distributions are mapped onto acupuncture channel pathways, the two are not exactly the same’ (Walsh & Berry, 2010, pp. 54, 55).
In Corradino’s book, after chapters introducing the theory and development of Neuropuncture and a review of basic neuroanatomy (in what seems a somewhat arbitrary order), Corradino moves on to the neurobiology of pain, the neurophysiological mechanisms of acupuncture and then, in Chapter 5, to electroacupuncture. Chapter 6 illustrates the ‘Neuropuncture acupoints’, giving locations, areas of influence and ‘relative [i.e. relevant] conditions’. Chapter 7 covers the theory and clinical application of Neuropuncture, Chapter 8 outlines some treatment protocols, and the final chapter is titled ‘Future thoughts’. For me, the practical chapters (6 to 8) are potentially the most useful, and those on neuroanatomy, neurobiology and neurophysiology flawed by poorly evidenced statements and inaccuracies. There is not space to refute these here, but readers who are interested may contact me for further details.
Sometimes the contents of the chapters are not always what you might expect from their titles. For instance, Chapter 3 (on the neurobiology of pain) includes information on Corradino’s interesting adaptation of the NADA protocol for opioid withdrawal, with shen men and the Lung or Tranquilliser point in the opposite ear being stimulated for 45 minutes with 2 Hz ‘millicurrent’ EA (the location of these points is not given, so ‘the masses’ must be assumed to know them already). This is an original variant of NADA, although I always understood that the FDA looks rather askance at milli- (rather than micro-) current bilateral cranial stimulation. Maybe I’m out of date. Certainly this is not a problem for Corradino, who writes: ‘I always cross the spine, cross the head… You must just be careful, use your common sense… [and] do not cross the brain [when treating epileptics]’ (p. 74).
In his chapter on EA, the author introduces a treatment that he ‘always’ begins with, in order to initiate and support the healing process and reduce inflammation – using 25 Hz microcurrent, as originally researched in 1982 by Cheng et al. Unfortunately, to my knowledge this old study has never been replicated, and although frequently seized on with jubilation by proponents of microcurrent stimulation, without replication provides no real justification for using 25 Hz rather than any other stimulation frequency. I am afraid this exemplifies Corradino’s somewhat cavalier approach to research evidence: he does not review it systematically, but appears to select those studies that support the protocol which he has decided to promote.
I have to say, though, that I admire Corradino’s chutzpah in creating new treatment protocols (and what you might call his somewhat original justifications for them). The summary of Neuropuncture protocols for common conditions (pp. 143- 58) is particularly useful, and some could be integrated into your practice, whether you are primarily a Western medical or traditionally oriented acupuncturist. I also suspect that, with his energetic approach to life in general, he’s going to get a lot of people well – whatever his understanding of how his treatments may work. So, for example, when treating chronic pain, ‘it is common to treat patients every other day for several months to correct and “rewire” their nervous systems’ (p. 47). Very good – if you can find a way to do this that is economically viable for all those concerned. I do have my doubts, however, that his protocols for Parkinson’s disease (p. 157) and tinnitus or hearing loss (p. 158) are going to be of much lasting benefit to patients who are severely afflicted by these conditions, however long you treat them. Maybe I am being unduly negative!
In conclusion, this is a useful but in some ways infuriating book. Corradino writes (in Chapter 5, p. 63) that he is ‘going to share with you… groundbreaking research that I am personally involved in that I feel will help change our profession and the world’. For me though, one moral of this book is that we all need to be cautious about what we believe, what we read, what we are taught, and what we write. Enthusiastic and charismatic teachers are wonderful to learn from, but then we need to reflect and test what we have read or heard against some external touchstone.
David Mayoris an acupuncture practitioner and researcher who has used electroacupuncture (EA) for 30 years and taught practitioners and students how to use it for over 20 years, both in the UK and abroad. In 2007, his textbook on EA was published by Churchill Livingstone (Elsevier). For the past seven years he has been investigating the effects of acupuncture, EA and ‘transcutaneous EA stimulation’ (TEAS) on the electrical activity of the brain (EEG) and heart (ECG). He is currently embarking on a research project to explore which patient characteristics may contribute to whether they respond well or poorly to acupuncture.