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The Thinnest Slice


There’s something that interests me a lot in the latest issue of Discover magazine and I think I need to share this because many of my friends know absolutely nothing about this important medical breakthrough. That’s because in this age of information explosion, the amount of funny, stimulating junk in our Facebook feeds actually block out a lot of useful information.

Research surgeon Dr Anthony Atala is into something big. His lectures have been views by millions worldwide and he presents a hope (not just a dream) that one day, any malfunctioning part of us can be replaced with new parts grown from our own cells.

He shocked the world when he loaded a “normal” desktop printer’s ink cartridge with human cells and “printed” on a collagen matrix instead of paper. Impressive? Well, it seems that These man-made organs are not quite ready to replace defective ones yet. It may not even happen within our lifetimes. Check out this video.

As early as the turn of the century, Dr Atala had successfully created 7 functioning urinary bladders from collagen balloons populated with the patient’s own cells and placed them into the bodies of boys and girls with malfunctioning bladders. However, organs like kidneys and livers are far more complex. Dr Atala’s research team is still a long way from growing whole organs, but the technology to save patients with failed organs without transplants from a donor may not be far off.

During a walk on the beach, an idea struck Dr Atala. He realised that organs only start to shut down when 90% of the tissues are defective. There is a lot of redundancy in nature. Dr Atala reasoned that as long as he could slip in a slice of healthy tissue, giving the failing organ about 20% of viable tissue grown from his own cells, the patient may not need to have the entire organ replaced. A partial transplant. Such techniques may improve the quality of life for victims of organ failure.


Is this a kind of Japanese acupressure method or la jing (stretching tendons)?

Lowering Blood Pressure

Coffee certainly increases one’s blood pressure, but the effect is often transient. My blood pressure would return to normal about 3 hours after consuming a cup of coffee.

Cider, Caffe Prato

The effect of alcohol, however, seems to be more lasting and presumably more harmful. After a couple of glasses of cider, my blood pressures shoots up. It stayed up there for more than 4 hours.

I decided to try something I’ve learned.

Bilateral taichong 太冲, yuan source point of the Liver Meridian. 15 minutes later, I took my blood pressure again.

Of course, I don’t suffer from hypertension and this is my normal (usual) blood pressure and it may not work for you if you do have hypertension, but it does show that acupuncture can bring down a person’s blood pressure.

Zhangmen Location

Good tips for locating Zhangmen.

“Never inferior to the umbilicus and never posterior to the mid-axillary line.”

Plantar Fasciitis

We’ve always been taught to go for ashi points in cases like trigger finger and plantar fasciitis. One disadvantage of ashi points is that they can be so painful. Another disadvantage is that they are like no-brainers. Here is a novel way to do it – by manipulating Chengshan. I’ll try and see if it works.

Acupuncture Syncope

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.

Pathways Of A Headache

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.