In the middle of the last century there was a Master Acupuncturist in China named Wang Le-Ting. Master Wang was renowned for many important accomplishments throughout his career and there have been several books written by and about him.
I came to know of Master Wang’s writings years ago through my Chinese professors and became fascinated by one of his key theories about the practice of acupuncture, that is, the “herbalization” of acupuncture.
Wang believed that just as herbal medicines have specific functions like clearing heat, draining damp and breaking through blood stasis, so too, specific acupuncture points had the same effects on the bioenergetic system. He went on to develop acupuncture formulas to match herbal formulas so that any given herbal formulas actions could be duplicated and reinforced by this system of acupuncture.
Take for instance the formula Si Jun Zi Tang also known as Four Gentlemen Decoction. This is a formula that tonifies the Qi and strengthens the primary digestion of the spleen and stomach. This base formula can be combined with other herbs to treat everything from hypothyroidism to eczema and irritable bowel syndrome to hepatitis.
The composition of the formula is:
Ren Shen Ginseng tonifies Qi and strengthens the spleen and stomach for primary digestion.
Bai Zhu Atractylodes strengthens the spleen, augments Qi and drains damp accumulations.
Fu Ling Poria dries damp accumulations and strengthens the spleen.
Zhi Gan Cao Glycyrrhizae harmonizes, warms and strengthens all of the organs of the middle torso.
In this formula we have two herbs that tonify Qi, four herbs that strengthen the spleen and stomach, two herbs that dry the damp accumulations that cause retardation of digestive function and one herb that warms the organs helping that part of the digestive function that relies on metabolic warmth.
Our acupuncture formula wants to follow the same functions as the herbs so we can choose two points that tonify the Qi like Qi Hai CV 6 and Tong Gu BL 66. We can also use points to fortify the spleen and supplement the middle organs like Di JI SP 8 and Gong Sun SP 4. We can choose two herbs that dry damp accumulations like Fu Liu KI 7 and San Yin Jiao ST 36. We also want to choose a point that will warm the intended organs like Yin Bai SP 1.
Using this method of selection we are able to duplicate all of the intended actions of the herbal formula Four Gentlemen Decoction with a matching acupuncture prescription except for one.
In our herbal formula we provide substances (Ginseng and Atractylodes), that actually create Qi in the body. In our acupuncture formula the points we use to tonify Qi actually do not add anything to the body, they encourage the tonification of Qi through normal organic functions. The needle themselves cannot add qi to the body except with the use of one thing, electric Qi.
If the concept of bio electricity had been known by the ancients it would have been one of the definitions of Qi. Further, I believe that the definitions of Qi that developed over time were in fact attempts to explain the electrochemical nature of the human body.
Electricity by definition is hot in nature and flows along regular pathways (circuits). Electricity animates (provides movement to machines and bio entities) and disperses if it is not contained. Electricity Illuminates, always seeks a ground (Yin) and moves with great speed. Electricity is matter without form and it transforms as in an electrochemical reactions. In TCM we know the nature of a thing by observation of its characteristics; the above is a clear definition of nothing other than Yang Qi.
By adding mild electrical stimulation to the points that we chose for augmenting the Qi we are actually adding Yang Qi to the body at those points. This completes the reproduction of our herbal formula, Four Gentlemen, with our acupuncture formula. They now match each other in every way.
The herbal medicine works on the body from the inside out exactly as the acupuncture works on the body from the outside in. This dynamic brings about a more timely and effective therapeutic response than either therapy alone.
Yours in good health,
Robert Kienitz, DTCM