Notes on Chinese Medicine and Gender from a Historical Perspective Professor Charlotte Furth and Sue Cochrane In this e-mail exchange with Sue Cochrane (TCM lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, Australia), the feminist historian Professor Furth (University of Southern California) helps pose some of the questions which, as practitioners, we should perhaps be considering when we treat women. She argues that in studying fuke/gynaecology, we need to know something about the history of Chinese medicine so that we are able to recognise how much of our therapeutic approach is based on ‘Chinese sexist values that have shaped understanding about healing.’
When Blood Runs Too Thick: Recurrent Miscarriage, Blood Clotting and Acupuncture Rebecca Avern This article describes the case histories of three women diagnosed with various blood clotting disorders. The blood clotting disorders had impaired the ability of each of them to carry a baby to full term. The article looks at the similarities and differences between the women in terms of TCM patterns, and Five Element Constitutional Factor (CF). It describes how the medication they were prescribed affected the choice of treatment principles and also their response to acupuncture treatment. It ends with the author’s reflections on the experience of treating them. Read the whole article
In the Footsteps of the Yellow Empress Richard Graham The catalyst for this article was a Problem Back Masterclass for physiotherapists held at Highgrove under the auspices of the Prince of Wales. The article describes the author’s personal experience of chronic back pain and the inspirational influence of the maverick Australian physio, Sarah Keys. The ability of the spine, given the right condition, to heal itself of even the most recalcitrant problems is highlighted. Pointing to acupuncture’s ability to provide simple, safe and highly effective treatment for back pain, the author concludes by affirming that: ‘We have much to learn from western medicine, but western medicine has much to learn from us. This is what real integration is all about.’
Individualising Treatments in a Group Setting by Combining Hand and Auricular Micro-Acupuncture Systems Oran Kivity This article outlines a method of delivering individualised diagnosis and treatments in group settings. It has been used to treat addictions and general health problems in the UK and, more recently, on the Acupuncture Sans Frontières project in Sri Lanka. The method combines the ECIWO protocol (a 12-point micro-acupuncture system based on the second metacarpal which was developed in China by Dr Zhang Ying Qing) with minimal auricular acupuncture. The author discusses auricular therapy as used in detoxification settings, and elaborates on the genesis and principles of the ECIWO system. He outlines the influence of Japanese acupuncture styles in the development of his approach combining these two systems and concludes with an explanation of how to apply the resulting simple and flexible protocol in clinics.
Acupuncture Research and Practice: Some Philosophical Considerations Allen Parrott The aim of this article is to set out some of the ways in which the basic philosophical assumptions about knowledge and reality that underpin mainstream scientific thinking, and therefore most current research, can be challenged, and to explore the relevance of such challenges to acupuncture research and practice. The author argues that randomised and double-blind clinical trials may be useful in certain contexts, but they no longer need be esteemed as the ‘gold standard’ to which all serious enquiry should aspire. For most healthcare research, a different ‘lens’ is desirable, for practical and ethical as well as for theoretical or more purely philosophical reasons.
Chinese Herbal Formulae for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome Angel Wang Hanbing with Dominic Harbinson The term pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a range of physiological and psychological symptoms which women commonly experience some 7-10 days before their period. The symptoms tend to increase in severity as the period approaches and then disappear once it begins, although in severe cases they may arise or persist outside the pre-menstrual phase. This article gives a brief outline of how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) understands PMS and presents five Chinese herbal medicine formulae (plus clinically relevant modifications) devised by well-known TCM gynaecologist doctors from China for the treatment of some of the various manifestations of PMS. The formulae are presented according to the main presenting condition and the TCM pattern being treated, namely: breast distension due to liver qi depression, abdominal distension and pain due to qi stagnation and blood stasis, emotional problems due to liver and kidney yin deficiency, and headache due to liver qi depression and liver and kidney yin deficiency.
The Role of the Pragmatic Trial in the Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Acupuncture Barry W. Nester This paper examines the role of the ‘pragmatic trial’ (PT) in the evaluation of the effectiveness of acupuncture. In a PT, the therapeutic effectiveness of a therapy can be evaluated by comparing it with other therapies and/or ‘standard care’ (i.e. the pharmaceutical drug or therapy that is routinely used to treat the condition being studied). The PT provides a method to determine the ‘relative’ therapeutic effectiveness of therapies such as acupuncture for a particular condition or syndrome by comparing it with the effectiveness of other therapies. One strength of using the PT to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture is that the ‘sham acupuncture’ control can in some cases be omitted, thereby avoiding any possible ethical concerns regarding participant deception and/or participants not receiving and ‘active’ treatment.
Serenity, Patience, Wisdom, Courage, Acceptance: Reflections on the NADA Protocol Beverley de Valois Following encouraging results from research investigating the use of individualised, traditional acupuncture to manage treatment side effects in women with early breast cancer, the author conducted a follow-up study to explore the use of the NADA protocol in the same clinical context. This article charts her discoveries in applying the NADA protocol as a standardised treatment in a group setting. She discusses its flexibility and potential, and considers its limitations. Case studies present a range of different experiences and perceived benefits for three women who received this treatment, including their reactions to being treated in a group setting.
Barriers to Undertaking Research in Acupuncture Erica Longton and Ivan Birch With the profession of acupuncture moving towards statutory self-regulation, developing an evidence base is a challenge that must be met. This article reports on the first study to test for the possibility of commonly perceived barriers to undertaking research among members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC). The results show that such barriers do exist, the greatest being not enough time during a normal working day and lack of financial support. 70% of respondents indicate an interest in doing research, 81% think it will improve quality of practice, and 85% feel it is important for the establishment of a knowledge base. The formation of research teams led by an experienced researcher for outcome studies using methods that are efficient, cost-effective and simple to implement could help reduce some barriers and allow practitioners to gain research skills by collaborating with colleagues in the same study.
Fertility and the Moon: A Case Study Roisin Golding Much archaic acupuncture theory is considered ‘superstitious’ by modern practitioners. The author wanted to find out if the application of some of the older principles of treatment as outlined in the Nei Jing made any difference to treatment. The article reports on the treatment of a 29-year old woman who sought treatment for infertility associated with polycystic ovaries and anovulation. Using tonfication and sedation techniques according to the phases of the lunar cycle, the patient’s periods were restored and eventually a pregnancy was successfully taken to term.
Some Breathing Difficulties: A Short Case History Belinda Coppock This case study sets out the treatment of a 64-year old woman who developed broncho-spasms within 1 hour of using some eye drops prescribed by her consultant for raised intra-ocular pressure. The author’s diagnosis was that poison had affect the liver which was then insulting the lung. Treatments, patient response and progress over an 18-month period are reported, including two apparent relapses provoked, the author suspects, by exposure to swimming pool chlorine. The first relapse took the form of a recurrence of ME-type symptoms, and the second manifested as breathing difficulties and an arrhythmic heartbeat. On both occasions, acupuncture treatment brought about a noticeable improvement in the patient’s symptoms.