HISTORY AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Electro-acupuncture, the application of a pulsating electrical current to acupuncture needles as a means of stimulating the acupoints, was developed in China as an extension of hand manipulation of acupuncture needles around 1934. It is described, though only briefly, in most comprehensive texts of acupuncture . The procedure for electro-acupuncture is to insert the acupuncture needle as would normally be done, attain the qi reaction by hand manipulation, and then attach an electrode to the needle to provide continued stimulation. The benefits of using electrical stimulation are:
1. It substitutes for prolonged hand maneuvering. This helps assure that the patient gets the amount of stimulation needed, because the practitioner may otherwise pause due to fatigue. Electro-acupuncture may also help reduce total treatment time by providing the continued stimulus. During electro-acupuncture, the practitioner can attend to other patients.
2. It can produce a stronger stimulation, if desired, without causing tissue damage associated with twirling and lifting and thrusting the needle. Strong stimulation may be needed for difficult cases of neuralgia or paralysis.
3. It is easier to control the frequency of the stimulus and the amount of stimulus than with hand manipulation of the needles.
The main disadvantage of electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles is the lack of direct practitioner participation in this aspect of acupuncture therapy and the associated limited opportunity for the practitioner to respond to changes that are taking place during treatment. However, for practitioners who, after inserting and initially stimulating the needles, normally leave the patient to rest undisturbed without performing prolonged needle manipulation, electro-acupuncture can provide a significant benefit: replacing the missing stimulus that is recommended by most experienced acupuncturists in China.
Although electro-acupuncture may be used as a component of nearly all acupuncture treatments that require manipulation of the needles, according to the Chinese literature, especially good results are expected from electro-acupuncture treatment of neurological diseases, including chronic pain, spasm, and paralysis. In patients with serious cardiac diseases, however, the method should be used with caution. It is generally recommended to avoid placing electrodes near the heart, as the heart can respond adversely to electrical impulses, and the path between any two electrodes should not cross the heart area, despite the low current that is used. Some have suggested avoiding placing electrodes to needles on both sides of the spinal cord (e.g., for Hua Tuo or bladder meridian points), because of the possible effect of the electrical stimulus on the nervous system. Points are generally selected in pairs for electrical pulse stimulation, with 1-3 pairs at one time, and the pairs are usually on the same side of the body.
THE USE OF ELECTRICAL STIMULATION DEVICES
The electro-acupuncture device is not intended to provide a significant current between the acupuncture needles: it delivers less than a milliampere (modern devices usually have an upper level of 0.6 milliampere), about the same as that produced by a wristwatch battery. But, it will provide a significant voltage: 40-80 volts (with short spikes as high as 130 volts), which is the basis for the patient response. In the commonly-used portable battery devices, this is accomplished by boosting the voltage output of the battery, such as raising the voltage from 9 volts to 45 volts. Thus, there is virtually no current transmitted through the body, but there is enough of a local voltage stimulus for the patient to feel an evident reaction at the point where the needle is inserted.
Duration of standard treatment with electro-acupuncture is usually 10-20 minutes and rarely exceeds 30 minutes.
The wave form (squared off or sharp; dense, sparse, mixed dense and sparse, or interrupted; see Figure 2 for sample outputs) can provide slightly different responses and must be tried for each patient to evaluate their suitability. Claims that one form is tonifying and another is dispersing may not be justified due to lack of adequate testing to support such differentiation of effects. A continuous wave (frequency doesn't change over time) is most similar to what acupuncturists in China attempt to administer by the manual method. The overall frequency of stimulus (either by continuous wave or pulses of dense waves) should be set similar to the frequency that would be used in manual stimulation by twirling or lifting/thrusting. Frequencies as high as 200 pulses per minute have been recommended for scalp acupuncture, with low frequencies being more commonly mentioned for body acupuncture (e.g., 50 or less). .
Electro-acupuncture is combined with needle and electricity
for clinical treatment. It is the same to the traditional acupuncture on basic
principle but the method. The body energy mentioned above is from the elements
that constructed our tissues, such as oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, chlorine,
phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, etc. They exist in our body as ion
status, organic molecules or inorganic molecules in the blood, lymph, cerebrospinal
fluid and body fluid among tissues. They produce energy whenever they action.
Later we found that the inherent energy is like electricity and call it bioelectricity,
with the flowing of the ions. It is very important to our normally physical
The bioelectricity changes because of different stimulation from the outside world. Under the worsening circumstances, the bioelectricity does not stay calm. On the contrary, if we input suitable stimulation to the body, the body would revive. For this reason, various stimulating parameters of different devices, including, amplitude, pulse width, pulse rate, presetting time, rhythm, are designed by engineers. The enrichment of body energy is based on the principle of complement of Yin and Yang. With the efficacy of exciting and steadiness, cells are vibrant, potential energy is balanced, immunocompetence is strengthened, and organic functions are increased. The effect is obvious on homecare, healthcare, pain relief, and chronic disease prevention.
The idea of the electro-acupuncture was from the French in the 19th century. Since the day traditional acupuncture spread into the French in the 17th century, vest interests began surfing through the Europe. During 200 years, the traditional needle had been combined with electrical medicine and the electro-acupuncture developed. The first person used electro-acupuncture on curing neuralgia and rheumatism was a French doctor. By a century of tests and studies, British and French doctors finally announced that neuralgia could be cured by electro-acupuncture.
The approved procedure of electro-acupuncture is not so smooth, but luckier than the traditional acupuncture. However, the foundation of acupuncture is so firm that no one can overthrow it even the medical science. The principle is to stimulate the abnormal meridian via the acu-points to reach the same result of penetrating a needle into the skin. The research of electro-acupuncture in Mainland China has been lasting for half a century. They declare the electro-acupuncture at least possesses following good points:
1. When one is treated with electrotherapy, the bioelectricity would be excited. Especially for treating the diseases that is hard to be cured, the electro-acupuncture gives a better remedy.
2. Electro-acupuncture provides a long-term and multi-waveform treatment. One would cost little energy and time to get a better effect.
3. The intensity of electro-acupuncture is adjustable for suiting different syndromes and requires. Meanwhile, the therapeutic parameters can be recorded and leave for further researches.
4. For those ones who need stronger stimulation, the stimulation by
electro-acupuncture is more acceptable than that by twisting with hand.
The good points of electro-acupuncture are not only figured out on medical field but also in our daily life. After work, city people are getting to leave their own health to other people, such as having a steam bath or a massage by a machine chair. They may have effects in preserve, by wasting too much time and money. But it still wastes too much space. By the way, all these treatments are according to the principle of toning the meridians up in our body, only that the electro-acupuncture spends the least time and energy to reach the best result. General treatments usually have drawbacks such as the following: First of all, one has to find the exact acu-point. The acupuncture specialist can find the exact point in the tolerance of 0.5m/m. However, we do not suggest common people to take the adventure. However, the finger-point massage and having a bath are not work on the acu-point exactly so that the effect is not so good as what we looked forward to.
Diseases and Conditions treated at our Clinic
1. Nervous system: trigeminal neuralgia, neurotic headache, sciatic neuralgia, peripheral facial paralysis and palsy, enuresis, etc.
2. Digestive system: gastralgia, cholecystitis, biliary colic, functional disturbance of gastrointestine, allergic colitis, etc.
3. Cardiovascular system: primary hypertension and stroke sequala.
4. Respiratory system: bronchial asthma, etc.
5. Motor system: soft tissue strain, rheumatic and rheumatoid arthritis, tendovaginitis, cervical velbebral systems, etc.
6. Psychical system: schizophrenic auditory hallucination, obsession, hysteria, intractable insomnia, behavioral disorders due to schizophrenia complicated by mental retardation, delayed motor disturbance caused by psychical drugs, neurotic depression, etc.
7. Others: spurious myopia, toothache, dysmenorrhear, prostatitis, etc.