NEW YORK—A friend of mine has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for over 20 years, and Western medicine proved ineffective. When he came to see me earlier this year, he could no longer feed himself or move his neck. He was incontinent, had hand tremors and uncontrollable drooling, and felt very tired.
In Chinese medicine, Parkinson’s is a difficult illness to treat, but I was aware of an acupuncture method developed by a distinguished Chinese medicine doctor, professor Zhiyun Bo, who had successfully tackled some chronic and complex illnesses.
Bo’s technique, called Bo’s Method of Abdominal Acupuncture (BMAA), places acupuncture needles more shallowly than is conventional, in the patient’s abdomen. It has been used with some success to treat irregularities in the nervous system related to anxiety, depression, headaches, and dizziness, and I thought I could adapt the technique to help my friend.
There are specific points in the abdomen that correspond to neurological issues, and when acupuncture is correctly applied on these points, treatments can gradually reach the root of the illness and can cure some patients.
But although I understand the theory that the brain has corresponding acupuncture points in the abdomen, no two people are alike. Also, in Chinese medicine, there is a principle that the same treatment can heal different diseases, but the same disease in different patients may need different treatments. Treatments are given depending on an individual’s personal characteristics.
So I let my intuition and the knowledge from 30 years’ experience guide me when I inserted the acupuncture needles into my friend’s abdomen.
After six treatments, my friend’s wife said he could eat breakfast without assistance, and his incontinence had disappeared. I noticed his hand tremors had stopped, and his stiff neck could turn slightly. After nine treatments, he no longer slobbered as much and felt much more energetic.
With this improvement in his condition, after so many years of illness, my friend decided to focus on practicing the Chinese meditation discipline Falun Dafa. He has continued to improve and feels he has no more need for acupuncture treatments.
Theory Behind the Treatment
Chinese medicine sees that all physical systems of the body also relate to energetic systems. In the same way as veins and arteries transport blood throughout the body, Chinese medicine understands that our vital energy—Qi—is transported via energetic pathways called meridians.
Meridian channels connect different energetic and physical systems in the body. Acupuncture points all fall on one of the meridian channels, so applying needles to the acupuncture points on the surface of the body can thus effectively treat illness in other parts of the body and treat the organs at deeper levels.
Bo believes that the umbilical cord is the first meridian channel that develops and that it continues to act as a sort of control system even after the baby is born and its nutrition channels change.
Thus, even after the umbilical cord is discarded, this prenatal meridian system still exists in the abdominal area, and BMAA therapy selects those points that have very clear correspondence with the ill part of the body.
Dr. Li, O.M.D, started studying Chinese healing arts in China at age 14. A member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, she has been practicing acupuncture and herbology in New York City since 1990. 718-458-3596