Thursday, August 18, 2016

Needle retention

One of the questions I was recently asked on my Facebook Question and Answer sessions was about needle retention.  The questioner asked whether there was any difference between manipulating the needle and then leaving it in place, which I interpreted as referring to our five element sedation technique,  or removing the needles immediately after needling, our tonification technique.  This made me consider carefully what the effect a needle left in the skin has.  It is fairly simple to me to understand that when we stimulate a point and remove the needle we are then handing back to the patient’s own energy the task of continuing the effect the tonification needle is intended to produce, without any further interference from the acupuncturist (and I use the word interference advisedly).
But what is actually happening when the needles are left in place, and, as sometimes happens, are stimulated again at intervals?  In effect, any needle left in a point continues to activate this point in some way.  Sedating a point will therefore draw energy away from the sedated meridian for as long as the needle is inserted.  In this case, the acupuncturist continues to treat (to interfere, as I call all treatment) for as long as he/she decides to leave the needle, or more usually the needles, in.
It is interesting that in all the years that I worked under JR’s supervision or watched him work with others I cannot remember a single occasion when he said that we should sedate rather than tonify an element, except, of course for an AE drain and for Possession treatment.  But for these two treatments the needles are never manipulated whilst in the skin, just re-positioned if we feel they are not in the right place or threaten to fall out.  I have always interpreted the minimal use of sedation in five element acupuncture as a sign that the initial AE drain on all patients at the first treatment draws away any excess energy from the relevant elements in the patient, leaving us to do what is then needed, which is to stimulate deficient energy, i.e., to tonify and boost the flow of good energy between the elements.
In other forms of acupuncture, it seems that sedation of points by leaving needles in place forms a major role in treatment.  I wonder, though, with sedation of this kind which may well calm and pacify energy, what is then done to boost it?

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