The Most Effective Acupuncture Techniques

The Spiritual Compass

The LIng Shu is the oldest surviving medical text describing ancient acupuncture techniques. Ling Shu is often translated as “Spiritual Pivot” or “Spiritual Compass”. Why would the ancient Chinese name the book describing fundamental acupuncture concepts as a way towards spiritual guidance?

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the best known modality of Oriental medicine. It’s use dates back over 2,000 years. Thus, it is not surprising that several different forms of acupuncture therapy have developed throughout this time on a global level.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), English 5 Element, French, Koren and Japanese acupuncture traditions are all different acupuncture methodologies rooted in the Ling Shu.

One may relate the development and differentiation of Christian belief systems, as analogous to various healing styles using acupuncture. For example, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Greek Orthodox, and Protestants have roots in the New Testament in common. However, there are significant differences between their rituals and beliefs. Different acupuncture traditions all originate from the Ling Shu, but acupuncture point locations and prescriptions vary dramatically.

What type of Acupuncture works best?

This is another common question without a clear cut answer. Another analogy that Westerns can relate to, that helps explain varying individual responses to different types of acupuncture treatment, is the use and efficacy of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS.  Common NSAIDS include aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, etc. There are some individuals that are not particular about which NSAID they take-they all “work the same”. Some people swear by Advil, while others insist upon Tylenol to ease their aches and pains. The same is true for styles of acupuncture. Some people will respond favorably to most types of acupuncture therapy, while others require TCM Acupuncture or KMS Japanese Acupuncture therapy to ease pain and suffering.

What does this mean?

Simply put, this means that for most people, the type of acupuncture they receive has a huge impact on their degree of progress. I am known as a practitioner that patients turn to when acupuncture or Chinese medicine did not work for them before. This is because I listen to their experiences, including what worked and what did not work about their prior acupuncture treatments. Then I shape my treatment plan with this in information in mind.

Why reinvent the wheel? If a patient already went to an acupuncturist who practices Dr. Tan acupuncture techniques and did not get better, I want to learn from that experience, not duplicate it.

What is the difference between theory and practice?

In theory there is no difference.

And any practitioner knows that there is a BIG difference. During my extensive medical intake, I can think of several acupuncture treatments that “should work” to correct whatever imbalance the patient initially presented with. But how do I know if my treatment is going to work? How do I know which method of treatment is going to suit them and give them the best treatment possAcupunctureible? Often the only way to discern the proper treatment is by taking the time to do a throuough physical exam and to use my palpation based diagnostics to guide my treatment.

While acupuncture treatments are cumulative, I look for immediate results during each session. I teach my patients what to look for as well. This strategy builds patient understanding of their own bodies, thus promoting self sufficiency. I endeavor to make sessions more than acupuncture treatments. My goal is to both treat and educate my patients during every meeting.

What conditions does Acupuncture treat?

Infants, children, teens, adults, and seniors in China have used acupuncture for thousands of years. Acupuncture is applicable in both external medical conditions (muscular, skeletal and skin conditions), and in internal medical conditions (including those affecting organs, as well as the reproductive, digestive, circulatory, nervous and immune systems).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the international authority on health-related issues, the following conditions, symptoms and diseases can be treated effectively by acupuncture:

Low back, knee, neck and facial pain


Tennis elbow


Facial pain, dental pain and tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction

Peri-arthritis of the shoulder


Rheumatoid arthritis

Induction of labor

Correction of malposition of the fetus (breech presentation)

Morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting

Postoperative pain

Biliary colic

Essential hypertension and primary hypertension

Renal colic

Allergic rhinitis, including hay fever

Adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy



Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)

Acute bacillary dysentery

Painful periods

Peptic ulcer

Acute and chronic stomach pain

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture points are located on meridians, which are pathways that carry qi. The meridian system is analogous to the circulatory system where blood vessels transport blood, and the nervous system where nerves carry nerve impulses. Every organ has a meridian that runs from that organ to the surface of the body. Sometimes qi becomes blocked in a meridian, which can disrupt organ function and/or cause pain along the meridian. There are many reasons why qi becomes blocked, like poor dietary habits, stress, lack of exercise, physical and emotional trauma, overexertion, infections, seasonal changes or a weak constitution. By stimulating points on specific meridians, acupuncturists can unblock qi, thereby reducing pain and correcting organ function.

How many treatments are necessary?

On the first visit I conduct an extensive intake and examination to assess my patients condition.  Then, an individualized Chinese medical treatment plan is formulated which includes recommended frequency of treatments, and possibly herbal formulas, nutritional supplements, and dietary and lifestyle suggestions. The number of treatments depends on the severity and duration of the complaint and the patient’s constitution.

What about Community Style Acupuncture?

How is Acupuncture a spiritual compass?

In short, acupuncture is a modality meant to lead the patient back to their true selves. As a compass or pivot point, it is designed to help you discover your own body’s inner workings, vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses. In its highest form, acupuncture treatment yields a map that patients can navigate with the help of their practitioner. This path can lead to a spiritual awakening through our physical experiences.