Acupuncture and the Balance Method

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Balance Method Johanna Utter Acupuncture Davis

At the end of May I took a 4-day class in the Balance Method, a system of acupuncture developed by Dr. Richard Teh-Fu Tan, which aims to bring immediate balance to the body. What I learned in this class has completely changed the way I treat, especially the way I treat pain.

In Chinese medicine, disease is considered to be due to a state of imbalance. So treatment of any kind (food, herbs, Qi Gong, acupuncture) is always attempting to bring the body back to a state of balance, harmony, and health. The Balance Method uses acupuncture to achieve this.

In the Balance Method, pain is generally not treated directly. We locate the channels closest to the painful area, then place needles in other channels that can balance it, frequently on the opposite side of the body. Most often we use points on the arms and legs, which means that the whole body can be treated while the patient remains clothed.

Acupuncture points are chosen based upon internal connections between the acupuncture channels. One connection is the way body parts can be mirrored or imaged onto another area. For example, arms and legs are similar to one another. Shoulders are like hips, elbows are like knees, and hands are like feet. Points on one limb can be used to treat another limb. So, for example, pain in the right knee would frequently be treated by palpating tender points on a related channel on the left elbow and then needling those. Or the lower back could be treated by using points on the hand.

Once needles are placed, patients are asked to move and to locate the current location of pain. Often the pain will have moved, so again we palpate tender points, needle those, then have the patient check for again for the location and intensity of pain. Amazingly, a few needles can be enough to make the pain disappear on the spot! Then the patient is left to rest with the needles in. In the clinic where my teacher practices, patients will rest for an hour or so, often falling asleep while their body resets itself.

Pain may return, although it is usually less intense. It’s generally recommended for patients to come in for treatment 2-3 times per week for 3-4 weeks, then to spread treatments out and gradually taper them off as the pain subsides. While the Balance Method cannot correct structural problems, it can still lessen pain.

The Balance Method can also treat pain in multiple locations, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. It is also useful in treating insomnia and respiratory, cardiac, digestive, hormone, and mood disorders.

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