Acupuncture syncope. That simply means fainting during an acupuncture session. Can a couple of fine needles make a big, grown man faint? You bet. The vast majority of fainting cases are not because of improper technique. The masters frequently encounter them. This novice already had 2 encounters. They were both healthy looking young men in their 30s. Both were having their first experience with acupuncture.
The first case was managed by my mentor. I remember he only had a couple of needles when he complained of giddiness. All needles were immediately removed, the patient was brought from a sitting to a supine position on the bed. A pillow was placed under his feet. He never lost consciousness and a hot drink was given to him.
Second case was managed by me. I started the patient off with bilateral Quchi and Yuji. Before I could start on his first Lieque, his wife, who was observing from a distance, commented that he looked pale. Indeed, he looked a bit pale. Even though he showed no signs of fainting yet, my mentor took no chances. All needles were pulled out immediately and the patient was asked to lie down. This mentor instructed me to do moxibustion on his Baihui and Qihai.
Colour returned to the patient’s lips very quickly. Even though both patients didn’t actually collapse, it is safer to remove all needles and abort the treatment the moment the patient shows signs of pallor.
The Meridian Theory in TCM distinguishes the pathway or “origin” of a headache by its location. The beauty of this system lies in the fact that you can treat an illness at one part of the body using a distal or “remote” point, the safest and most convenient of which are located on the limbs.
When the headache is felt at the back of the head, it is believed to associated with the taiyang meridians. Examples of taiyang meridians are the Bladder and the Small Intestine meridians. The Governor vessel is also located on the back of the head. The small intestine point Houxi (SI3) seems well suited to treat this sort of headaches. Apart from being on the hand taiyang meridian, Houxi is also a connecting point to the Governor vessel. Pain relieve is almost instant.
Frontal headache is very common and often treated with the well-known Hegu (LI4)point on the Large Intestine meridian. This is a favourite point for many acupuncturists for the treatment of a variety of ailments including toothache, fever and various ENT problems. It sounds funny, but a frontal headache can be called a Large Intestine headache.
The Gallbladder meridian runs on the lateral or temporal aspect of the head. So if you’ve got a headache on the side of your head (sometimes diagnosed as migraine), it could be the Gallbladder meridian that is bothering you, especially if this pain is accompanied by dizziness. Treatment along this meridian would involve points on the scalp. There is another meridian that runs around this region and that’s the Sanjiao meridian which virtually covers the entire body. This meridian can also be used to treat temporal headache. It has a very easily located point on the forearm. Many acupuncturists prefer this “remote” approach.
The points on the Liver meridian end somewhere on the chest, but it has an inner pathway that goes all the way to the vertex of the head. Hence, pain at the vertex of the head is related to the Liver meridian. Another easy and convenient point to needle is Xingjian (LR2) between the big toe and the second toe. Yes, pain at the top of the head, needle the toe. That’s TCM.
We all know that acupuncture does not work when the area to be treated is anaesthetised. Hence, it sort of rules out the option of doing acupuncture for patients who can’t stand needle sensation.
But I just discovered something interesting. Acupuncture works with sedation. A patient sedated with intravenous Dormicum responded to acupuncture treatment like any patient.
This is an exciting discovery for me as it opens the option of acupuncture to really nervous patients who may not tolerate needle sensation.