The Primary Channel Balance – Part 1 5/5 (4)

primary channel balancing in AcuGraph

Other Posts in this Series

To read parts 2, 3 or 4 of The Primary Channel Balance series, click the links below:


Part 1: Primary Channel Balancing in AcuGraph

In this article, we will be discussing Primary Channel Balancing using AcuGraph. In previous articles prepared for this website, we talked about the Three-Level Acupuncture Balance, which has become my preferred therapeutic protocol for using the AcuGraph system. The three levels are Primary Channels, Eight Extraordinary Channels, and Divergent Channels. The Primary Channels distribute qi and blood, the Eight Extra Channels affect the musculoskeletal body, and the Divergent Channels treat the internal zang-fu organs. This approach is based on Yoshio Manaka and followers, writing in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and further developed by Miki Shima in his Somato-Auricular Therapy (SAT) in the 1990s. 

I wrote in detail a description of the 3-Level Balance, with separate articles on both the Eight Extraordinary Channel protocol and the Divergent Channel protocol. You can read those articles here, starting with part 1.

The 8-Extra and Divergent balance utilizes ion-pumping cords; the 8-Extra treatment requires four acupoints and will use two sets of ion-pumping cords, and the Divergent treatment also uses four acupoints (a different set), and will use another two sets of ion-pumping cords. Following the ion-pumping-cord treatment of the 8-Extra and Divergent groups, there are often certain meridians that have not been addressed, and are still excess or deficient. This is where we add the Primary Channel balance to complete the treatment.

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The 8-Extra and Divergent protocols are combined in the AcuGraph menu as Divergent Treatment. (Use the left, bottom, diverging arrows to access the point recommendations.) Our present article addresses the third wing of this approach, namely Primary Channel balance. It can be used in isolation, as a Primary Channel balance, or added to the 8-Extra/Divergent treatment, completing the 3-Level balance. The 3-Level Balance is preferred in chronic and complicated cases.

The 8-Extra and Divergent balance utilizes ion-pumping cords; the 8-Extra treatment requires four acupoints and will use two sets of ion-pumping cords, and the Divergent treatment also uses four acupoints (a different set), and will use another two sets of ion-pumping cords. Following the ion-pumping-cord treatment of the 8-Extra and Divergent groups, there are often certain meridians that have not been addressed, and are still excess or deficient. This is where we add the Primary Channel balance to complete the treatment.

Cases requiring the 3-Level approach typically have a P.I.E. score below 70, and the lower the P.I.E. score, the more effective and important it is to use the 3-Level approach with ion-pumping cords. When the P.I.E. score is above 70, or even above 65, a quicker and equally effective approach can be accomplished by balancing the Primary channels alone, without paying any attention to 8-Extra or Divergent recommendations. Primary-channel treatment is also important to support dedicated musculoskeletal treatments when the patient is face-down.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss two different approaches for choosing a Primary-channel protocol. We will first look at the AcuGraph menu recommendations, then will look at Primary channel balancing based on modern protocols from Japan and Taiwan.


AcuGraph Menu Recommendations for Recommendations for Primary-Channel Balance

The AcuGraph menu offers three different primary-channel treatment protocols: the Basic, Advanced, and Expert (under “Treatments”). In each of these treatment protocols, there will be a point recommendation (in blue) below each meridian bar. Sometimes the point is simply the relevant tonification or sedation point. Sometimes, it is a point that will accomplish two tasks at one time. In any case, the point recommendations are based on classical dictates, and you can’t go wrong using any of the recommendations, as long as all of your point choices come from the same grouping, eg, Basic, Advanced, or Expert.

The logic behind meridian balancing is that when the channels are in relative balance – nothing too excess, nothing too deficient – the uninterrupted flow of qi will allow the body to heal itself. Any of the menu recommendations will work, but some menus will be more efficient than others, requiring less needles. I personally think that the preferred goal is fewer needles for maximum balance.

The AcuGraph View Menu

Let’s talk about each of the menu recommendations in isolation, because when you choose points for your treatment, you will probably only need to use one of them. We do this by looking at the graph types offered in the left side menus: Baseline, Yin/Yang, By Element, or Energy Cycle. 

Baseline divides the meridians by hand/upper (on the left) and foot/lower (on the right). This is convenient if you choose points based on working on the arms first or the legs first. In my treatments, I do a shoneishin treatment first (scraping the channels with metal tools), and I will use the “Baseline” graph to allow me to look just at the arms for excess and deficient channels, and then the legs.

Yin/Yang shows the yin channels on the left, and the yang channels on the right. This graph style becomes important if you wish to default to the Keiraku Chiryo treatment, which helps prioritize meridian patterns (more on this later.) For myself, this is the menu I use most frequently.

By Element sequences the channels by their yin-yang partnerships. This becomes important when you want to make sure yin and yang pairs are balanced, leading to either luo-yuan (connecting point-source point) or Divergent treatment. The “By Element” graph, like the “Baseline” graph, is also organized by separating the upper part of the body (left side of screen) from the lower part (right side of screen.)

Energy Cycle shows the meridians in their natural sequence, or in the order of channels in which energy runs through the body. My teacher, Ineon Moon, was always interested in where in this sequence a blockage occurred. This would be seen as one or more excess channels (red bars) preceding a significant drop to one or more deficient channels (blue bars). His solution would be to use the luo-connecting point of the last excess (red) channel before the drop to deficient (blue), allowing the normal flow to continue. If the two channels were part of a pair (eg Stomach excess and Spleen deficient), he would use the luo point of the excess channel and the yuan-source point of the deficient channel. The Manaka approach used ion-pumping cords to lead the excess into the deficiency.

Treatments

Once you have chosen your graph view, you now can go to “Treatments” for appropriate point recommendations. In the bottom left of the screen, we have six icons for “Treatment”. The top three icons will contribute to Primary Channel balancing.

primary channel

The bottom right, the diverging black arrows, will lead you to the 3-Level Balance points for balancing 8 Extra and Divergents. (I have discussed this approach in previous articles.) Here, we will concentrate on the top 3 treatment icons, in order to balance Primary Channels only. As a reminder, I tend to use this approach when the P.I.E. score is greater than 70, though I prefer the 3-Level Balance with ion-pumping cords for more complicated cases and lower pie scores. 

I also choose one of these primary-channel point recommendations when I am treating the back for musculoskeletal problems, regardless of the P.I.E. score. These menus allow me to add tonification or sedation points of the most affected channels, allowing a balance treatment to be combined with a musculoskeletal treatment. The tonification and sedation points are always below the elbow or knee, and can easily be added to a back-torso treatment. Plus, this avoids any awkwardness of managing the ion-pumping cords with the patient prone. I will also use the Primary balance as a stand-alone treatment (without 8-Extra/Divergent) in any case where I don’t want to use ion-pumping cords, or to do quick excess and deficient treatments with laser.

Options in AcuGraph

Basic. This approach tonifies deficient meridians, sedates excessive meridians, and addresses L/R imbalances using Luo points. It is an effective treatment, but not very efficient, using more needles than may be necessary.

Advanced. This approach enhances the Basic treatment by adding Shen, Ko, and Luo transfers to accomplish more, using fewer points. It also includes group treatment points and global pattern treatments. Here, we will get point recommendations that might apply one point to several channels. In this regard, it is a more efficient balance. I usually default to this menu.

Expert. This approach enhances the Advanced treatment by considering the patient’s prior graph patterns and imbalances, in selecting treatment points. It also considers exams of different types (Source, Jing-well) performed on the same day. Some practitioners like including the patient’s historical patterns for input in the treatment plan. 

Personally, I tend to work in either Advanced, or Divergent.

For any of the three choices, point recommendations are provided in a white horizontal bar, below the channel bars. In all the treatment approaches, we have the ability to ask “Why? Why this point?” The answer is found by clicking on the question mark (?) to the very left of the point recommendations. Some points will apply to two or more channels, and the reason is provided. For example, SP 4 might be used for both Spleen deficiency, and Stomach excess. Or it lists a Luo point, or an element point, etc.

Once you have chosen your Treatment, you can enter the points into the Treatment Plan by clicking “Add These Points to Today’s Plan,” at the lower right. The AcuGraph menu allows you to remove (the X in the red circle) or add your own points (“Add Point”). This feature is convenient for creating a computer-stored record of your treatment.

So here we have, in the AcuGraph menus, three ways to balance the channels, with point recommendations. All of the recommendations are based on classical applications of tonification, sedation, luo-connecting, yuan-source, five phase (elements), etc. And each method works.

Why AcuGraph Matters

One of the beauties of the AcuGraph program is visually showing relative excesses and deficiencies. This gives us flexibility beyond the AcuGraph treatment recommendations. For example, we may just want to know the most excess channels, or the most deficient, and work with those. This is what I recommend when doing a musculoskeletal treatment. Also, when I do the 3-Level Balance (which concentrates on 8-Extra and Divergent treatments), I want to know which channels have not been included, and not been treated. This is where I bring a Primary Channel balance into play, allowing me to complete my treatment.

Now that we’ve had a refresher on the Primary Channel balancing methods, we’ll delve further into more advanced applications of this method in my next post. 

Thanks for Reading.


Other Posts in this Series

To read parts 2, 3 or 4 of The Primary Channel Balance series, click the links below:


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AcuGraph is an invaluable tool when it comes to balancing the acupuncture channels. It’s the tool recommended and endorsed by Dr. Fratkin, and is integral to his methods and success.

To help you implement everything you’re leaning in Dr. Fratkin’s blog series, you can get $300 off the AcuGraph Practice Builder package through July 22, 2021!

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Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, L.Ac. trained in Korean and Japanese acupuncture since 1975, and Chinese herbal medicine since 1982. He is the author of Essential Chinese Formulas (2014), and Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines, The Clinical Desk Reference (2001). Jake practices in Boulder, Colorado, where he specializes in internal disorders, infections, and pediatrics.

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Dr. Jake P. Fratkin, DOM, L.Ac.

Trained in Korean and Japanese acupuncture since 1975, and Chinese herbal medicine since 1982, and has studied and taught qi gong and Yang family Taijiquan since 1974. He is the author of Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines, The Clinical Desk Reference and the editor-organizer of Wu and Fischer’s Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is currently completing TCM Case Studies in Autoimmune Disease with Dr. Zeng Sheng-ping for People’s Medical Publishing House, Beijing. He is the recipient of Acupuncturist of the Year, 1999, by the AAAOM and Teacher of the Year, 2006, American Association of Teachers of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AATAOM). Dr. Fratkin lives and practices in Boulder, Colorado.

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