The Magic of Acupuncture

February 2010

In my practice, I often encounter those “magical” moments when people marvel about how well acupuncture works.

The other day, a gentleman came in with the condition of “frozen shoulder”. He could hardly lift his left arm and there was pain and stiffness. “Frozen Shoulder” is a common condition that usually happens to middle-aged folks. The condition is painful and makes daily life very inconvenient. When it’s severe, people can’t even get dressed, comb hair, or reach for things. I inserted a fine needle in a point on his leg and asked him to move his shoulder at the same time. To his amazement, the mobility of his shoulder improved almost immediately, and he said, “Wow, it’s magic! But why did you treat my leg while the problem was in my shoulder?” On the other occasion, I treated a lady with chronic stiff neck with very limited mobility. I needled a point on her ear and asked her to move the neck while breathing deeply. She was also amazed that the mobility of the neck improved greatly in a very short moment. “Wow, what magic! How come a point in the ear can help the neck?” she asked.

To answer the question, I would like to invite you to imagine that you have never seen electric light and have always used candles. In order to have a light, you have to light the candle with a match. And one day, you are invited to a place where you see people flip a button on the wall and see something lighting up on the other side of the room. Wow, what magic! Of course, it’s only magic to someone who doesn’t know that there is an electric wire connecting the switch and the light bulb. My husband recently set up our home stereo so that by touching his iphone, we can control the stereo. I touch the screen of the iphone, (there’s not even a physical button any more), suddenly there’s music in the room. Wow, what a… technology! To someone like me who am not very savvy about technology, I know that somehow the iPhone in my hand and the stereo in the other room are connected. There’s an invisible pathway from one to the other where information is transmitted and exchanged.

Now, let’s come back to our body. Why is it that by treating one point on the leg we can help to improve mobility on the shoulder? Why does a point on the ear help the movement of the neck? Because there are invisible pathways connecting different parts of the body. Our body consists of layers of this kind of network where information is constantly exchanged. In acupuncture theory, we call these pathways Meridians. To use the light bulb as a metaphor, the point on the leg is the “switch” on the same pathway as the afflicted shoulder, therefore, by “flipping this switch”, the Qi circulation on the shoulder improves and the function is restored. From treating physical pain to emotional disorder such as anxiety and depression, acupuncture works by accessing these time-proven “switches” to help the body to restore its normal function. It may seem to be magical, yet there’s science behind it, just like that iPod in your hand.

Now would you like to introduce some “magical moments” into your life? You can learn to find the effective points to help yourself with some common symptoms. The following two are commonly used ones.

  1. He Gu “Joint Valley” is located on the muscle between the thumb and the index finger, about half way between the knuckles of the index finger to the bone of the wrist. It is one of the commonly used points for acupuncture anesthesia. It’s good for relieving pain in general. It works especially well for headaches or toothache. Just press this point until it feels tender and breathe deeply.
  2. Nei Guan “Inner Gate” is located about 2 inches above the crease of the wrist (toward your body) on the palm side, between the two most prominent tendons. It is used for pain in the stomach and chest, heart palpitation and anxiety. Just press this point until it feels tender and breathe deeply while doing the treatment.

Want to know more points you can use for improve your health? Please email Dr. Judy at