You’ve been there and so have I…
It was in my first diagnosis class in acupuncture school. Our assignment was to feel the patient’s pulse and report what we felt. I was gung-ho (or naïve) enough to volunteer first.
There I stood, eyes closed, concentrating on feeling something meaningful in that regular thumping heartbeat. To be honest, I had no idea what I was feeling, but I bravely put forth my best guess.
Then, the instructor took the pulse and felt something completely different.
I wondered if I would ever learn this bit of magic called pulse diagnosis.
Historically, acupuncture was learned through apprenticeship. The student followed the master for years and learned to feel exactly what the master felt in the pulses. But, how many of us, today, have the opportunity to follow a master around for years to become excellent in pulse diagnosis?
The modern route usually consists of a four-year degree from an acupuncture college, followed by opening a practice. That’s the route I took and I’ve come to realize first hand why it’s called “practicing.”
I’ve practiced pulse taking a lot, learning from any master I can find, every chance I get.
What have I learned about pulses? First and foremost, they are subjective. Everyone who feels the pulses has a different perspective. Imagine yourself around a treatment table with 3-4 experienced practitioners. Most likely, each of them will have a different interpretation of the pulses, along with a different point prescription and pattern identification based on their own analyses.
One instructor told me that it would take a lifetime to become really good at feeling pulses, and that what he felt now, after 20 years of practice, isn’t what he felt previously. “So,” I thought to myself, “was he right 20 years ago or is he only correct with his pulse diagnosis now? And what happens in another 10 or 20 years?”
Recently I took a class from Dr. Jake Fratkin (a master pulse diagnostician), where everyone in the room was asked to feel the pulses of the person next to them. We all felt the pulses and came up with our analysis. Dr. Fratkin then came around and gave his own interpretation for every pulse in the room.
What did we learn? That we were all “wrong!”
Every pulse that he came to evaluate was different than what we had felt individually. Dr. Fratkin has been practicing pulse diagnosis for over 30 years and is considered a “master.” Most of us had been practicing between 3 and 10 years, and all had successful clinics, but none of us were “excellent” in pulse diagnosis.
And you know what? Even if we were all “masters” we would most likely still have different interpretations of the same pulses.
That’s just how this largely subjective art is practiced. Pulse diagnosis, as we know it today, has continued to evolve and change since its inception dating back to the early Han Dynasty (168 BCE). Over the years, different styles of pulse diagnosis have continued to evolve based on the interpretation of individual masters along the way.
Today, we can choose from a variety of styles of pulse diagnosis, each with a slightly different interpretation. I am sure that each style was considered “perfect” by some master along the way.
A Modern Approach To Accurate Diagnosis
As modern technology has evolved, acupuncture has been a beneficiary. Much of the acupuncture practiced today is quite different than the techniques of ancient China.
• Sterile, stainless steel needles • Cupping without fire • Moxa without smoke • Laser treatment • Electroacupuncture?
All of these modern acupuncture techniques are now commonly used and embraced by acupuncturists with excellent results.
But—how has diagnosis been enhanced by technology?
To answer that question, I’ll start with a little history. Early in the 1950s Dr. Yoshio Nakatani, while treating an edematous patient with nephritis, discovered points around the patient’s ankles that exhibited increased electrical conductance, when compared with surrounding skin areas.
With a little more research he found that these points correlated with the traditional acupuncture points of the Kidney channel. When he examined multiple nephritis patients, he found that these same points were electrically active.
As he further refined his methods, he discovered lines of electrically conductive points corresponding to all the meridians. He also found that the electrical properties of these points revealed the underlying qi activity of each channel.
He called his technique Ryodoraku, which translates to “line of good electrical conductance.” He spent the rest of his career perfecting his methods to be highly accurate and applicable to treatment.
Dr. Nakatani’s “Ryodoraku technique” has evolved and advanced significantly since the 1950s. Now called “Digital Meridian Imaging,” or DMI, current approaches use computerized testing and analysis to quantify qi balance in the meridians and make recommendations for treatment.
With modern equipment, the test takes about two minutes and the computer interpretation is instant. Meanwhile, the body of evidence exploring the electrical properties of acupuncture meridians continues to grow. You can find a list of more than 60 published research articles on the topic at www.RydorakuResearch.com.
So, what are the implications for YOUR acupuncture practice?
This video introduction will answer a number of questions you may have.
Before the modern advent of technology, the four pillars of diagnosis were the only way to diagnose a patient—looking, listening/smelling, palpation, and asking.
These methods are still the foundation of diagnosis. As you saw in the video, they are greatly enhanced and complemented by including Digital Meridian Imaging.
By using DMI in my practice over the last four years, I’ve identified a number of benefits of using this tool with EVERY patient visit.
I continue this article and go into more detail on the Acupucture Today website. You can click below to finish the article and be sure to check out the free 8 min demo video on the AcuGraph.
—> Click here to visit Acupuncture Today and continue this article.
Posted on 17:13, January 27th, 2015 by Dr. Jake P. Fratkin, DOM, L.Ac.
This is Part 3. If you missed the prior posts, here are the links…click below and catch up!
Dr. Jake Fratkin #1:
Dr. Jake Fratkin #2:
“All health problems, whether due to trauma or organ dysfunction, will manifest as imbalances in the meridian sequence.
Some channels will be excess, while others will be deficient. A person has a set amount of qi, and imbalances that are excess are matched by imbalances that are deficient.
If we can restore the channels to relative equality, the body will hold the correction, allowing a more lasting effect. In this way, the body can heal itself quickly.
When we add in branch treatment for the main complaint, we are now healing in two different ways, allowing an even stronger healing response
I explain it to patients this way: The energetic network is like a hologram. We want your energetic network to radiate like a soccer ball – energy in the shape of a sphere. When there are imbalances, your network is radiating like a football – torqued and out of equilibrium.
If I can determine the exact pattern of imbalance at the moment, and correct that by adjusting the excess and deficiencies on the channels, then the holographic shape will return to that of a soccer ball instead of a football. Once a correct balance is made, the body tends to hold a balanced network, at least for a while. The patient noticeably feels better; they feel relaxed, they feel uplifted.
They come back again, either weekly, or even once a month, to get their “balance”.
Outside of meridian-sequence qi gong or meridian balance shiatsu massage, no other method can do this for a person.
Diagnosis: Pulse or Meridian?
When I returned to Meridian Therapy, after an interlude with TCM, I saw that patients got better in half as many treatments. But this was not due to discarding TCM; it was due to adding in MT. That is to say, I used Meridian Therapy as our root treatment, and added in TCM, or other modalities, as the branch treatment. Currently, for example, I am using Ear Acupuncture as the branch treatment, which complements Meridian Therapy well.
My article to this point has been why I prefer Meridian Therapy to TCM acupuncture. Now our question is how: how to accurately diagnose excesses and deficiencies on the channels. The classical Nan Jing approach of Meridian Therapy survives as Keiraku Chiryo, Japanese Meridian Therapy.
This system was revitalized in the early 1930s in Japan, and continues to this day. In this system, meridian imbalances are determined by radial pulse, with the superficial aspects corresponding to yang channels, and the deeper pulse positions corresponding to yin channels. Relative excesses and weaknesses would be noted, and one of four patterns (sho) would be prioritized for treatment, based on the relative positions. Practitioners are advised to focus on the primary pattern, and not to chase every imbalance.
After many years of studying and teaching this classical approach, I have abandoned it for two reasons.
The first reason is due to my exposure to computerized meridian diagnosis, which gives diagnostic information that is more accurate and precise than pulse diagnosis. As importantly, computerized systems such as AcuGraph include software to make the most use of that diagnostic information.
The second reason, the council to “not chase every imbalance,” is wrong.
It is important to make sure that significant excesses and deficiencies in every channel are taken care of. It is possible to confirm whether fixing every meridian is necessary or not. I say this because, if you prioritize which meridians to start with and put needles in place, secondary imbalances may not need treatment.
Machine diagnosis is not new.
It goes back to the late 1940s as Ryodoraku, developed by Dr. Yoshio Nakatani, where it was discovered that electronic measurements at the fingertips would produce different readings. The readings could compare energetic strengths of the various acupuncture channels, by which treatment could be determined.
Computerized diagnosis went on to receive a lot of interest during the 1980s and 90s in China, Japan and Taiwan, and several devices were made available commercially. As computer technology developed, so did the meridian diagnostic machines.
I purchased my first device in 2004, a machine from Taiwan, and was very impressed with the diagnostic level. The software was useful, graphically displaying the various excesses and deficiencies.
I found that it was much more detailed and precise than pulse diagnosis.
Several years ago I was introduced to the AcuGraph, and I switched over. Both devices gave good diagnostic readouts, based on multiple readings per minute for each diagnostic point/meridian. The AcuGraph, however, has a more sophisticated software support for the diagnostic information, and, important for me, was Mac friendly.
With the AcuGraph it became possible to display the totality of the readings in various formats: arm-leg (“Baseline”), yin-yang, 5 element, the 12 meridian sequence (“Energy Cycle”), and the midnight-midday cycle (“Horary”). It also gives the patient a “PIE” score. PIE is an easy to understand, single number summation of the degree of imbalance taken in consideration with readings of energy level and energy stability.
Most importantly, it makes point selection recommendations.
The objective is to restore equilibrium with treatment options. This can be done with the Basic treatment – (all channels), or Advanced treatment mode, which utilizes points that can treat two or more channels simultaneously. The software also offers terrific reference materials, including branch TCM treatments for common complaints, locations of all of the acupuncture points, and summation charts of TCM treatments. If you are reading this, I am sure you are already familiar with the various features of the AcuGraph software.
For me, computerized diagnosis is far superior to pulse diagnosis, showing all the variations of meridian imbalances as excess or deficiency.
One can use the information as one wishes, whether it be using the software recommendations for detailed treatment, or even to focus on the primary patterns of Keiraku Chiryo.
I have tremendous respect for AcuGraph as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool, and believe that it will facilitate and enhance your acupuncture treatments.
AcuGraph truly allows more patients to benefit from the very real healing offered by Meridian Therapy acupuncture.
Learn how AcuGraph can help your practice. Click here to view a short video!
Posted on 15:09, January 22nd, 2015 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
Have you been following Dr. Jake Fratkin’s guest articles?
If’ you’ve missed them, here are the links…click below and catch up!
Dr. Jake Fratkin #1:
Dr. Jake Fratkin #2:
Dr. Jake Fratkin #3: COMING SOON!
At the end of Part 2, Dr. Fratkin asked the question below.
What method of Diagnosis is better – Pulse/Tongue or Computerized?
This is a question you may not have EVER thought about. This is probably due to the overwhelming majority of acupuncture schools teaching ONLY the TCM method of diagnosis, ie. Pulse/Tongue.
Dr. Fratkin’s take on this:
“When I returned to Meridian Therapy, after an interlude with TCM, I saw that patients got better in half as many treatments. This was not due to discarding TCM; it was due to adding in MT. That is to say, I used Meridian Therapy as our root treatment, and added in TCM, or other modalities, as the branch treatment.”
“My experience with computerized meridian diagnosis is that it gives me diagnostic information that is more accurate and precise than pulse diagnosis.”
Let that sink in for a moment….he goes on to say:
Posted on 14:58, January 20th, 2015 by Dr. Jake P. Fratkin, DOM, L.Ac.
In my last blog I presented you with three questions:
If you missed it, click here to go back and catch up.
Okay, let’s pick up where I left off. TCM acupuncture is a recent construct.
In the first decade of the People’s Republic of China (1950s), TCM universities and teaching hospitals were designed and created to be the equal of Western medicine schools and hospitals.
The herbalists were firmly in control, and promoted a style of acupuncture that corresponded with the TCM herbal approach. Their objective was to establish a unified curriculum.
Other acupuncture styles, including Nan Jing Meridian Therapy, disappeared, but were able to survive in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Problems with TCM Acupuncture.
Posted on 12:56, January 15th, 2015 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
You might not have planned on all this “business stuff.”
You went to school to learn how to provide excellent care. Maybe you felt called, maybe you were simply fascinated. But one way or another, you ended up choosing a career as a healer. You probably didn’t plan on a career in marketing.
Many acupuncturists find themselves struggling to make ends meet. They are capable, committed, even passionate, but also a bit lost when it comes to attracting the patients they need to run a successful practice. They do all the right things, or at least they think they do, but the patients don’t come. Too many of these practices fail; too many good healers are lost to the profession.
Let’s fix that.
Posted on 18:07, January 13th, 2015 by Dr. Jake P. Fratkin, DOM, L.Ac.
Let’s face it – There are things they DIDN’T teach you in Acupuncture School!
• WHAT is Meridian Therapy acupuncture?
It’s important to know the answer to these questions. Understanding the complete history and nature of Acupuncture will improve your skills as a healer.
Let me give you a little background.
After my first eight years in practice, I went to China to further study Chinese herbal medicine and while there, I deepened my exposure to Chinese acupuncture. There is no doubt that TCM acupuncture is effective, either by infusing local areas with qi for localized trauma, or by using 3-point combinations (local, distal, remote) to direct and focus qi to problem areas according to zang-fu/eight category differentiation.
TCM acupuncture as a style or system corresponds closely to Chinese herbal medicine.
Posted on 15:21, January 8th, 2015 by Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
You’ve shared part of my journey with a special patient in previous blogs.
We cried together when she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in January of 2011. They gave her six months to live. (Complementary versus Alternative)
She and I worked together with her oncology team. They worked on fighting the cancer. She worked on good nutrition and maintaining a healing lifestyle. I worked on helping to balance her meridians through the process. (Surviving Chemotherapy)
She was a wonderful lady and I was blessed to serve her until the end.
It’s a hard subject.
Birth and death are two things we all have to experience in this earthly existence.
While in college, I had the opportunity to intern at San Diego Hospice. There were many who chose not to take this internship, simply because they were afraid. I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant at first, but I’d never trade my hospice internship experience. I learned SO much.
Are you comfortable treating patients who are dying?
In today’s blog, I’ll share some helpful acupuncture strategies relating to chemotherapy and end of life symptoms I learned while interning in San Diego with an amazing supervisor, Erin Raskin, L.Ac..
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions.
Oh, I’ve tried them before, and frankly found it a waste of time.
The trouble is this: once I’ve resolved to do something, or not do something, and then failed even once, the resolution is broken and soon forgotten.
It’s a high-stakes gamble that I seem to lose!
One break is all it takes for the whole resolution to go out the window.
I much prefer to focus on priorities for the new year.
Posted on 15:24, December 30th, 2014 by Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
It’s that time again. Can you believe I’ve been working with Miridia Technology for 5 years? I’ll be going in for my annual review with Dr. Larsen soon. There are two questions he always asks.
#1: What have you accomplished in the last year.
#2: What do you plan to accomplish next year?
I have one answer for both questions: Help our practitioners! My job is all about serving YOU!
Below is a list of articles I’ve written and classes I taught in 2014. I’m working on a goal list for 2015. Since everything on my list involves YOU, I thought you might want to provide some input.
Here are a few ideas I’ve been tossing around:
Posted on 14:44, December 18th, 2014 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
Since then I’ve realized I never told you about her previous article.
It’s really worth reading!
In this article, Kimberly gives some marketing ideas that are both innovative and simple.
They’ll make a huge difference for your practice, so I recommend you take a look.
Have a great day!
By Kimberly Thompson, LAc
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Two skills every practitioner needs to master along the way are these:
1. Finding new patients.
There are a ton of ways to get new patients, all of which depend on your personality, the community you live in and specific clinic goals.
Posted on 13:43, December 16th, 2014 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
In it she manages to indulge her inner foodie while helping her patients (and yours) get outstanding results with TCM food prescriptions.
Best of all, she makes it easy!
Enjoy her Article!
It Pays to be a Foodie!
If there is an inner foodie in you, just waiting to burst out—this article is for you!
Do you want to know how I know? I’m that girl. My middle name might as well be “Foodie.” I love food! And if my patients are any indication, many of them do as well. I get asked about food and diet every day in my practice. I bet you do too.
Posted on 15:16, December 11th, 2014 by Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
A patient came in last week, desperately hoping acupuncture would work.
Nothing else was helping…
Her family circumstances were overwhelming to the point her emotions were out of control. She couldn’t stop crying. She wished she could run away from everything and everyone.
She even said she wished her life could just end, although she knew that wasn’t an option.
I’m so glad she had the wisdom to call me. I’d taught her over the years that whatever discomfort she experiences in her body is always related to a meridian imbalance.
Emotions can either be the cause or the effect of an imbalance in the meridians.
Posted on 12:04, December 9th, 2014 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
Shoulder Pain sucks!
It makes everything ACHE, your neck, arm, chest and down your back!
The shoulder is a complex ball and socket joint that is made up of three bones: the humerus (arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collar bone).
There are many ligaments that help support the shoulder, and many muscular attachments help move the shoulder.
There are many different causes of shoulder pain.
There are probably as many answers to this question as there are practitioners in this field.
I’ve talked to many, many acupuncture practitioners over the years and seen nearly every practice situation imaginable.
Every practitioner is unique, and the common theme among them all is a great desire to help people.
Sure, you can make a good living as an acupuncturist (if you approach it right), and you can earn respect from your patients; you can be highly regarded in the community. But in the end, the driving factor I see most often, even beyond praise and profit, is a simple desire to make people’s lives better.
Frankly, I can’t think of a more honorable and noble reason to go to work every day.
Just like every practitioner has a “why,” so should every business. After all, businesses are just made up of people who come together to work toward a common goal.
If the goal is only to make a profit, the business will lose its way in pursuit of the almighty dollar. On the other hand, if a business has a driving purpose, a passion that matters deeply and makes a difference to everyone who works there, great things can be accomplished for the company and for those it serves.
Here at Miridia Acupuncture Technology we’re animated by a desire to elevate acupuncture.
This is what drives us.
In the end YOU are the most important part.
With that in mind, all of us here at Miridia wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. As we pause and reflect on our list of blessings, we place each of you high on that list. We now have well over 7,000 individual customers and each of you is important to us and a vital partner in helping us reach or goal to elevate acupuncture.
Thank you for the excellent work you do!
May God bless you this season and always.
Dr. Adrian Larsen
Posted on 13:28, November 12th, 2014 by Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach
Have you ever had trouble helping your patients understand Chinese Medicine?
TCM terminology doesn’t make sense to patients programmed to think in terms of Western medicine.
The ancient terms and concepts are important but often require an interpretation. That last thing you want to do is leave a patient confused.
A confused patient doesn’t come back!
What does Your Patient Need?
They need to SEE it! Don’t explain it to them–SHOW them! The patient wants to see logical, visual proof, in easy-to-understand reports.
Let’s put it this way. When your patient starts explaining to YOU what’s wrong, you’ll know two things:
• First, they’re totally on board with your treatment. They know they need you and they know why they need you.
What about Your Needs?
What helps a recent graduate become a Master Acupuncturist? Experience and applied knowledge! Being open to learn from experienced practitioners provides experience…faster.
Since the use of technology wasn’t taught in acupuncture school, many practitioners simply don’t pay attention to it. That changes when they realize, in this age of Google medicine, patients self-diagnose and trust technology to find and fix their problems.
Technology plays a vital role in today’s acupuncture practice.
Technology can enhance your skills and augment your wisdom. It’s like having an instant “2nd opinion.”
I think we’ve all learned by now that it’s NOT about the money – it’s about helping people.
That being said…if you can’t make a living in acupuncture, you can’t help as many people!
The right tools will help you succeed financially and create a rewarding practice.
Here are the facts: Practitioners who use AcuGraph:
How does AcuGraph help you reach these levels of success?
When you buy an AcuGraph system, you’re making an investment in your practice. Our support, training and coaching programs help you experience a quick return on your investment, and SHOW you, step by step how to do it.
Here are some of the Training options we give you:
We DON’T just want to sell you some equipment—We’re committed to your long-term success! We’ve been helping elevate acupuncture for more than 10 years. Our experience in practice building has given us the expertise needed to help you reach your goals.
Start by watching this video where you’ll find the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT principle of practice success: