Julian Scott Eastland Press, 1240 Activity Drive, Vista, CA 92081, USA Paperback, 208 pages, £22
(Reviewed by Royston Low, EJOM Vol. 5 No. 3)
My first reaction on reading this book was ‘I wish I’d written it’ – it is good. Julian Scott broke new ground with his book on paediatric acupuncture and now he has done it again with this book on the treatment of eye problems. Clearly and lucidly written, it fills an important niche in books devoted to the treatment of a specific set of problems. I was especially pleased to see space devoted to the treatment of intra-orbital points such as Bl 1 (jing ming) as so many practitioners are afraid of causing damage, but the author stresses the toughness of the sclera whilst also stressing the desirable reactions to the variable depths of needle insertion. The author makes it clear that although there is a one-in-four possibility of a black eye associated with using Bl 1, this is completely harmless and will disappear in a few days. Apart from its use as a local point, Bl 1 is also the meeting point of twelve different vessels and its use is essential if we wish to stimulate the production of any of the pituitary hormones. Confidence in its use is really worthwhile.
Opening with a basic introduction to the anatomy of the eye, the author succeeds admirably in blending the TCM approach with a fundamental western pathology. This is exemplified in the smooth way in which he explores the latest in allopathic research. For example, glaucoma is not necessarily associated with a raised intraocular pressure. The description of the western pathological explanation is followed by the TCM approach and aetiology, and its TCM treatment, whilst a description of the ‘how and why’ treatment of TCM syndromes is a valuable recapitulation of treatment of all acupuncture conditions.
A detail of the book’s contents can best be given by listing its own chapter headings. It begins with basic anatomy and physiology, followed by the relationship of the organs to the eyes, the causes of eye diseases, the acupuncture points that affect the eyes, then treatment principles and techniques. The various conditions are then itemised: retinal problems leading to loss of vision, fluid problems, lens problems, problems of the front of the eye, problems of the intraocular muscles, miscellaneous problems, a summary of patterns (which is a useful reminder of fundamental causes), the treatment of blood insufficiencies and anaemia, the effect of mercury on vision, and detoxification, commonly-used medicines, recovery after eye surgery, seasonal affective disorders (SAD), after-effects of stroke, styes, and entropion (inverted eyelids).
The reader will see that this is indeed a comprehensive selection, and the symptomatology is provided in greater detail than most other books on TCM. A treatment programme is given for each condition, based upon a wide knowledge of the actions of each recommended point – a knowledge based upon the author’s long practice and experience, coupled with a study of the original Chinese literature. This experience gives him the authority (and humility!) to offer an alternative or additional treatment to acupuncture if he feels it might be more effective.
I was surprised to see no mention of auricular therapy, which I have sometimes found useful – they do not have points labelled Eye-1 and Eye-2 for no reason. I also wondered why scalp needling was not included. Although it affects the brain itself rather than the eye organ, there is one area governing the optic nerve and another labelled ‘visual area’ which covers the upper and lower ends of the fissure calcarina (the gyrus cuneatus and the gyrus lingualis). This serves as the analyser of vision in the cortex and injuries by stimulation result in cortical visual disturbances. The author could also have examined the cranial nerves – optic, trochlear and abducent nerves – in rare cases where one or the other might be affected. This is hardly fair to the author; he would be dealing with a brain condition with optical symptoms, and the results of acupuncture treatments are problematical. But it is still possible we might need the use of ubiquitous jing ming!
Should you buy the book? As a practitioner you cannot afford not to. I am assuming that every practitioner will now dash out to do just that, which means that there will be a sudden influx of eye cases getting better.
Royston Low Royston Low is one of the founders of Acupuncture in Great Britain (in 1961). He is a past President of the British Acupuncture Association, Chairman of the Acupuncture Research Association, past Dean and Senior Lecturer of the British College of Acupuncture, Governor and Senior Lecturer of the Anglo Dutch-College of Acupuncture, past Dean of the National College of Acupuncture of Ireland and past President of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.