Part and parcel of becoming a good practitioner of acupuncture is to be treated by other acupuncturists. A few months ago, as I had a needle inserted into bladder 1 (a point that lies in the corner of the orbital socket), my intern remarked that when the time came to practice needling this point on a classmate, I would have an advantage because I had had the point needled on myself. There is a certain logic to this, because while I have never stuck a needle into someone’s eye socket, feeling how the needle is supposed to go in and what the sensations are like is helpful to making the experience a little less (hopefully) traumatic.
Being treated with acupuncture also played a fundamental role in bringing myself and many of my classmates to this field of study, and influences our belief in this field of healthcare as an effective treatment modality. So, having done Chinese acupuncture with a number of different practitioners and having taken herbs, I decided, on the recommendation of my roommate, to explore Japanese style acupuncture this semester.
Many of you may be surprised to learn that there is such a thing as Japanese style acupuncture, but there is. Acupuncture encompasses a wide variety of treatment styles, and Japanese differs from Chinese in the needling technique, the diagnostic process, the inclusion of palpitation of the abdominal area, and the number of needles used.
The differences became apparent at the beginning of the treatment, as I sat down to do my intake. Instead of going through the categories (skin, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, digestive) straight off the bat the way the CAS (Chinese acupuncture) intake goes, we talked at length about my eczema before moving on to these other points. I then lay down on the exam table, and she proceeded to take my pulse (again, slightly differently than CAS), and then raised my shirt to press my abdomen, searching for tender/sore spots. Unlike CAS, there was no tongue examination.
After her supervisor came in to meet me, she then set about needling me – imagine my surprise when she told me I was getting a heavy-duty JAS treatment with a grand total of…12 needles! Whenever I’ve done CAS treatments, I’ve ranged from having between 15-40 needles inserted at any given time, so 12 was a big change in a way. The needles were also gold, another difference, and she used an insertion tube (something we are initially taught not to do in this program, but that is central to JAS insertion technique).
All in all, the treatment was very relaxing and seems to have helped. I’ve felt considerably better since going, and I’m looking forward to being treated in this style for the rest of the semester. I think it’ll be a good modality for me at this stage of my healing process, and I’m feeling very optimistic.