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Maybe it Really is "All in Your Head"


Myself and all licensed acupuncturists have slogged through a very rigorous program of learning and memorizing the 365 acupuncture points and their indications and applications. We have worked through memorizing, with anatomical landmarks, the locations of the 12 Main meridians, the Divergent meridians and the Muscle meridians and the Eight Extraordinary Meridians, points and applications. And the lists go on! Even though nobody has found a “Meridian” in the body, we take it as an article of faith that they are actually there in the body, somehow, somewhere. Were you ever brave enough to consider the idea that the meridians and all those points are“figments of your imagination”?

What if I told you that in fact meridians and acupuncture points do not exist in the physical world. Wow, wouldn’t that upset your belief apple-cart, after all that toil, money and study time? You would point to all of the great results you get applying acupuncture techniques to your clients.You would probably reject those statements as delusional and an attempt to discredit your profession.

However consider what an acknowledged expert in the acupuncture profession wrote. Dr. Felix Mann (1931-2014) was an experienced acupuncturist and author, who practiced in London. He lived abroad for many years, also in China, and had an international reputation. His last book, "The Revolution in Acupuncture" 1992, contains the findings and experiences of several decades of practical acupuncture.

In his view, neither points nor meridians exist. In his book he also writes, for example:...”the meridians of acupuncture are no more real than the meridians of geography. If someone were to get a spade and tried to dig up the Greenwich meridian, he might end up in a lunatic asylum. Perhaps the same fate should await those doctors who believe in meridians (chapter III, page 31).

Nonetheless, acupuncture practitioners achieve partly astonishing successes with their needles, lasers or other instruments and electronic acupuncture devices–or else they would have no patients. Acupuncture works, but why and how? Can we consider for discussion the possibility that Dr Felix Mann is correct, and the implications this can have?

I would like to share some of my experiences that seem to point in the truth of Dr. Mann’s assertion.

Case 1: Erasing Meridian Excess

Several years ago, Dr .Woo Tae Yoo , OMD, Ph.D.,, the creator of Korean Hand Therapy, conducted a post Pacific Symposium workshop in San Diego, California. During that workshop, he drew a large hand on the blackboard representing the hand of a seminar participant. He then determined, through pulse diagnosis, that the participant showed Large Intestine meridian Qi excess. He had a second audience member verify the pulse. Then, on the hand on the chalkboard, he drew a Large Intestine hand “micro-meridian”and its direction of Qi flow (same as the flow direction in the LI body meridian).

He then used his finger to swish, several times, against the direction of flow of the blackboard LI meridian image, thus “sedating”the Qi flow. After that, he asked the same participant member to recheck the LI pulse. He reported that it had become unquestionable normal. He never treated the actual patient, but made physical changes!

The question is, how did this happen? What are the implications?

Case 2: Reducing Back Pain with Intention

Here is another example from a Dr. Yoo seminar. He asked for a volunteer who had pain in their body. One participant said he had pain in his lower back at the L-5/ S-I area with a pain level of 8, on a 10 point scale. 

In this instance, he did not treat the corresponding points directly on the participant’s hand, as is usually done in Korean Hand Therapy. Instead, he had each seminar participant draw a hand in their seminar notebook and indicate the corresponding L5-S1 pain location on the dorsal surface of the hand (according to the Korean Hand Therapy correspondence map).

For treatment, Dr.Yoo asked all the seminar participants to imagine the painful area in the patient relaxing and healing while they tapped with their finger tips on the L-5/S-1 area of their paper hand drawing. After two minutes of tapping, he asked the “patient” his pain level and how he felt. The pain went down from a 10 to a “2” and he felt much better. 

How did this happen? What are the implications?

Case 3: Same Fingers, Different Results.

The author personally learned three systems that utilize the hands: Koran Hand Therapy, Su JokHand Therapy and regular body acupuncture. It so happens that what are called acupuncture points on the fingers, for example the little finger, are points on the leg in the KHT correspondence system and on the arm in the Su Jok correspondence system. However, depending on the system the practitioner is using at the time, the points function as described in that system. This is also true of correspondences of internal organs. In one system, for example, a certain location on the palm of the hand in KHT corresponds to the bladder and in the Su Jok system it corresponds to the diaphragm area. Both work according to the system being used.

So how could this be? We will get to the answer soon.

Modern Digital Technology Joins TCM 

For the last 100 years there has been a worldwide attempt to understand and harness what can best be called “subtle” energy. Perhaps the same “thing” Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as “Qi”.Technology of each time period was developed to supposedly harness the “subtle” energy. The devices and approaches have gone by many names, such as radiesthesia, radionics, bioresonance, to name a few.

The purpose of the devices is to “harmonise the energy” to cure illness, regulate health and reduce pain.

That it worked was shown by the results it produced. However, modern science could not measure this “subtle energy”, so it was not “real”. It was written off as a placebo effect. The same fate befell Traditional Chinese medicine because even now in the US is considered an experimental procedure, even though thousands of years old.

With the advent of the atomic age and the development of quantum physics and several associated theories, such as “entanglement theory”, a “scientific” rationale has been developed by thinkers trained in both physics and healing to explain the action of Qi, subtle energy, prana, etc.

In the subtle energy context, one organisation has developed an “I-Chingbio regulation acupuncture software” as a system to support or replace conventional needle acupuncture. This “system” is composed of a client, a practitioner and a specially designed I-Ching Acupuncture digital system. It is important to understand that the computer system alone does not heal or rebalance meridians or the body. It is simply a specialized link between the client and the practitioner. 

The “acupuncture” session begins like every other, with a dialogue between therapist and client to understand the underlying health issues and to establish a conscious relationship of mutual trust and respect.The client may or may not be physically present but may be connected to the therapist through Skype or a call phone call, but this is not a requirement. Alternatively, the client can be present as in a regular therapist-client interaction in a clinic setting. Therefore, the meeting can be “real”or “virtual”.

The health issue is input to the software as a written statement. Alternatively, the system can simply “read” the current situation.

Once the system is activated, in a matter of minutes, the output conclusions are generated in written form and are broadcast. This includes an:

  1. Acupuncture treatment protocol based on the ancient “I-Ching” acupuncture balance system.This protocol can also include traditional points to treat specific issue based on TCM theory and practice. This protocol can be “broadcast”remotely (like from Vancouver to Madagascar or given to the client in person). 
  2. I-Ching Fractal visual pattern representing the expected condition of the client to be viewed as a visual version of the treatment. It is also a treatment protocol generated by an algorithm.
  3. I-Ching Hexagram, appropriate to the client, showing the two trigram lines, including changing lines.This is accompanied with interpretation for the client’s health in both TCM terminology and western medical-psychological terms.
  4. A virtual traditional Chinese herbal formula, such as Xiao Yao San, as well as virtual homeopathic formulation and Schuessler Cell salt.

The Rationale

All of this sounds like a little hocus pocus, but then so does Qi moving in meridians. However, there is a new paradigm being developed and tested by such institutionally approved luminaries as Dr.William Tiller, Ph.D, former head of Stanford Universities metallurgy department. He has also been involved deeply, over the last 30 years, in researching how subtle energy healing works (Tiller The designers and manufacturers of the computerized acupuncture diagnosis and treatment device described above suggest the following reason for the development of their device, built on the history of bio-resonance/radionic devices in the west.

They cited the following: 

The Crucial Connections For Healing Success are the Interface of the Practitioner–System/Device—Client. 

“The crucial factor in healing is the therapist and the way he or she uses the systems and devices, but also the way the patient is integrated into the psycho-biophysical circuit. Devices take their full effect in the context of the psycho-biophysical circuit of therapist/patient/device. Conditions, such as clinic design, impressive technological devices, presentation of the healer, etc are important elements in minimizing doubt in the client.

The therapist's ability to connect to the patient's consciousness is just as decisive for the therapeutic success as the patient's confidence in a probable success. The practitioner's mental abilities (today we might say “Conscious Intention”) and the patient's confidence define the outcome. 

The conclusion from the above discussion is that our consciousness, our personal beliefs in our healing systems and our’s and the client’s conscious intent for healing are crucial for the success of all energetic treatments. What led the author to these beliefs are some of the experiences he had in the energetic healing context as well as those presented in the beginning of this article. Below he describes why he thinks the three examples of non-physical healing worked. Healing in the Subtle energy domain, such as acupuncture, must meet three conditions for it work.

Case 1: Dr Yoo and the Blackboard Pulse Changing Experience.

The effective combination was: 

  • A client who believed in the “expert”, Dr Tae Woo Yoo, OMD. Ph.D.
  • The healing “system” composed of a blackboard seen by everyone, the TCM theory, which everyone in the seminar knew and believed in and the strategy of sedating the meridian by motion of the hand on the imaginary LI meridian. The acupuncture healing ritual was complete.
  • The expert healer 

Case 2: Lower Back Pain Reduction

The effective combination was: 

  • A participant-client who needed help for back pain.
  • The healing system included the hand drawing in each participant’s notebook, commonly held belief in TCM theory, belief this would work and the tapping on the pain area on their drawings.
  • A group of healer-acupuncturists who were intent on healing the client of their lower back pain.

Case 3: Same Hand, Different Locations, Same Results.

In a clinical situation, the author has applied two hand systems to cure the same problem. The interesting fact is that in both systems the locations of the internal organs are totally different, yet each system works as intended.

In terms of the above three criteria:

  • The client believed in the healer and whatever he/she was doing
  • The context included explanatory diagrams, tools for point location and treatment devices. 
  • The healer understood and believed both hand systems worked 

So what can we conclude from the above examples and what are the implications of those conclusions?:

We are energetic holograms and every point in our body contains all the information of every other point. Since we are a hologram, we are also a hologram embedded in an infinite hologram. In this perspective our information is everywhere at all times. The information accessed and activated in the hologram depends on the intention-consciousness of the practitioner. It is a little like having a phone number in our smart phone and then finding the one we wish to call. The same point applies in KHT or Su Jok or body acupuncture or other micro systems. Each responds appropriately for the system being “called”by the practitioner.

Conclusion Applied to KHT 

Since this author practices Korean Hand Therapy primarily, that will be the example used for this conclusion. Understand that the conclusions apply to all forms of acupuncture and energetic treatment–medicine.

The Healing Model 

The Therapist-Acupuncturist:


  • Has a strong belief in the efficacy of several thousand years old systems of acupuncture.
  • Is schooled in all aspects of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Believes in the effectiveness of using the hand (ear, foot, scalp, face) for all forms of treatment including corresponding points as well as hand meridian treatments.
  • Has a strong desire-intention to help the client.

The Client:

  • Makes an appointment for treatment because they
  • believe and hope, based on recommendations, that this practitioner and his/her methods will work for them. 

The Method (in the KHT Method):

  • The new client is inducted into the belief in KHT with pictures of how the body corresponds to the hand and stories of the effectiveness.
  • The therapist does an intake and establishes a relationship of mutual respect and trust. 
  • The therapist then performs a diagnosis using specialised tools to search for tender points. This stage may also include palpation, pulse diagnosis, muscle testing, tongue observation, etc.
  • She/he then applies a treatment with hand needles, magnets, moxa or little metal pieces on tape or all methods sequentially. The therapist holds a strong belief and intention for his/her methods to work. 
  • Changes in the client experience are noted; less pain, relaxed, etc. indicating that something changed for the better. 
  • Instructions are given to the client for self-treatment at home until the next visit, thus engaging the client’s self –intention for healing.
  • The sequence is a complete cycle of the KHT healing ritual.

The client leaves experiencing and believing that the ritual has helped (less pain) and that more may be needed. They show-off the little pellets to friends and family and explain how they work for healing. They keep them on every night to reinforce the healing process.

Implications for Korean Hand Therapy, Micro-systems and Acupuncture



  • Stays focused during the healing interaction with aware presence and healing intention. Listens to intuition. Use whatever treatment aids are available, such as computer programs, lasers, colored light, sound and vibration. Practice focusing methods such s Qi-Gong. May have intuition about a particular client outside of the regular clinic time

The Client in the Healing Setting

  • Clients believe hi-tech means efficacy of the process. As much as possible, include such devices in the healing context.
  • Help create a client expectation that this is going to work. Everything around the client tells them this is going to work. Design the healing space to convince them that they are going to heal.

The Healing Ritual

  • Apply something visible and “sensible” to the client so they “know” they are being treated. 
  • Needles, tape on pellets, tape on Seeds, Moxa, electrostim, color pens, magnets, massage of the hand points found. etc.
  • Give the client homework as a participant in the healing ritual; adding pellets overnight, pressing seeds, colored pen dots and marks.
  • Frequently ask the client if whatever you just did changed anything, feels better, gives sensations, causes “energy” movement, feels warmth.

Applying the Holographic Concept to KHT

Numbers 1-3 above can be applied remotely in a very simple way. The method involves the therapist holding the rubber hand model and tapping on the corresponding points and then needling them with map pins. An even better way is to hold a Skype session to get a symptom update and then ask the client to meditate (sit quietly with eyes closed) while the therapist taps on the corresponding and meridian points with a small tapping device and then inserts map pins into the corresponding areas. The client is sent a hand diagram with the treatment points-areas marked for the client to color in with a pen. The picture is kept in a prominent area for frequent viewing by the client. 

Next Steps

Observe your own practice, clinic and clients and make sure items 1, 2 and 3 above are present. Upgrade deficiencies you find. Then healing will occur whether meridians and acu points are“real” or just “mind constructions”.

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