The Caduceus, Chakras, Acupuncture and Healing, Part Two
By John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA)
Anyone In the first part of this article, which appeared in the May issue, the historical perspectives and healing corollaries of the medical caduceus represented by the double-coiled serpent as they relate to the chakras and acupuncture were explored.
If you missed part one, go to acupuncturetoday.com, click my photo under the "Columnists" section, and click on the appropriate article.
As I was preparing part one, I found myself having great difficulty trying to encapsulate the information into a format consistent with this column. The topic of the caduceus and chakras as it relates to acupuncture and healing may well be one of the most challenging topics I have endeavored to report. This is only because of the extreme amount of knowledge that makes up this topic through the philosophies of dozens of nations, both ancient and contemporary. I soon realized that what I have learned over the years and practice clinically on this topic could easily fill an entire book.
As a student of the Asian healing arts for over three decades, I have observed healing principles in nine separate Asian nations firsthand. However, my studies have taken me to a variety of nations and historical times I have not personally observed, but nevertheless formed my education. This was most recently brought to mind as for most of this year, the world's focus has been on the Middle East, specifically Iraq; Syria; Turkey; Iran; Afghanistan; Pakistan; and India.
Most practitioners of acupuncture and Asian medicine in the Americas, Australia and Europe tend to regard this style of healing as originating in China. However, when one explores the numerous healing disciplines, from scores of nations, that have contributed to the development of traditional Chinese medicine over the centuries, the amount of knowledge assembled is humbling, to say the least. These contributions have occurred from all of the abovementioned Middle Eastern nations, along with ancient Greece and Rome. The healing philosophies of Persia and India had an extremely strong influence in developing the philosophical concepts that created the healing principles of Tibet and Nepal.
The primary nationality comprising China's westernmost regions has a strong medical tradition that combines Islamic (Unani) medicine with India's ayurvedic medicine, along with traditional Chinese medicine. The Hui, or Muslim Chinese, are most heavily concentrated in northern and western China. Much of their medicine has at its root a very strong Arabic influence introduced when the Arabs came into Western China in the ninth century. As the Arabs conquered the Mediterranean, what they gathered from the Greeks with regard to medicine became a vital part of the medicine and philosophies of the entire Middle East.
In part one, we drew a strong corollary between the double-coiled snakes around a single shaft and its relationship of what was described as the spinal tracts of Indian medicine referred to as the ida, pingala and sushumna, which comprise the kundalini, or power centers of the body. (Refer to part one for illustrations). Every time the ida and pingala, represented by the snakes in the caduceus, cross one another, the crossing forms a chakra when applied to the body. Historically, these chakras are represented on the front of the body and correlate with what we know in acupuncture as important acupoints.
The study of the chakras is a topic that goes well beyond the space limitations of this publication. I urge the reader to visit his or her local book dealer for a variety of books devoted to the significance of the chakras, or you may contact me at the e-mail address at the end of this article for specific sources. It is imperative however, that those involved in Asian medicine explore the importance of the chakras in their creation and distribution of the body's energetic field.
Anyone who has ever studied Asian medicine is familiar with the ancient concepts of the Five Elements, which form one of the most practical, clinical and historical foundations of acupuncture. The relationships between the elements, the meridians they represent and general factors affecting the body are time-honored. There is a very strong relationship between the chakras and the Five Elements in Western, Tibetan, Nepalese, and even Southern Chinese acupuncture.
Figures 1 and 2: The crossing of the two tracts and their relationships to specific acupuncture points and vibratory colors. [Courtesy of Dr. John A. Amaro and The International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Inc. Copyright 2003.]
Examine Figures 1 and 2. Please note that the chakras on the anterior body, indicated by the crossing of the two tracts, have a specific relationship to a specific acupuncture point and vibratory color.
Note that each chakra has a particular relationship to a yin- and yang-coupled set of meridians (e.g., 5th chakra-Ren 22-Gl/KI) and that each chakra is associated with a particular color, consistent with the colors associated with the elements in Five Element acupuncture. The meridian correlation to a chakra is based upon the color associated with the Five Elements. For example, green is associated with the Wood element which, in turn, is associated with the LIV/GB meridian.
In Figure 2, on the posterior of the body, please note each chakra has a specific relationship to a particular vertebral level. For example, the 5th chakra is connected with DU 14 between C7/T1. As with the anterior body, the meridian and color relationship is the same for the posterior body.
To utilize one of the most powerful healing effects in ancient Western Chinese, Persian and Indian acupuncture, make a correlation between the involved meridian and the associated chakra, and use acupoint locations on the anterior (yin) and posterior (yang) side of the body related to the involved chakra.
One of my favorite clinical stories that exemplifies this concept relates to a gentlemen whose son-in-law lives in Paris. The son-in-law suffered from extreme low back pain with radiating sciatica. The pain was excruciating. After exhausting all forms of "alternative" medicine, including acupuncture and chiropractic, the patient still felt no relief and was scheduled for decompression laminectomy. Prior to entering the hospital for surgery, the patient was advised of a "healer" who practiced on the third floor of a building in Paris, not far from the patient's home. He was convinced he should at least give it one more chance.
Arriving at the building, the son-in-law was met with three flights of stairs, which he navigated slowly and painfully. After explaining the history of the problem, the practitioner simply placed his two overlapped fingers directly on the top of his sternum at the manubrium. After holding this spot for approximately two minutes, the healer leaned away and asked the patient how he felt. The patient, a busy, no-nonsense businessman, was mortified this was all the practitioner had in mind to do. Disgusted with the fact he had just climbed three flights of stairs with considerable pain, the patient turned and, in a huff, started down the stairs. When he reached the first landing, he suddenly turned and went back up to the practitioner, demanding to know what he had done to him. The pain that had been so excruciating had suddenly lifted to a very tolerable ache. The patient returned the following day for a follow-up treatment that completely resolved the condition, at least with regard to pain. His surgery was cancelled. Two full years have passed, with no return of the symptoms.
This is an example of the abovementioned principle in action. Due to the patient's spinal condition, it was ascertained through acupuncture principles he had an involvement of the Bladder and Kidney meridians. The BL/KI are associated with the water element, which is associated with the color blue. The 5th chakra is likewise associated with the vibratory energy of "blue." Therefore, in Five Element/chakra balancing, this action will be taken directly at Ren 22, which is the 5th chakra.
Since many of the conditions we see clinically are of the musculoskeletal variety, it behooves us to recognize that muscles, tendons and ligaments are under the influence of the wood element associated with the meridians of the GB/LIV. These meridians have their related chakra at CV (Ren) 17. One of the most startling clinical responses you can expect is to stimulate CV 17 in any musculoskeletal-ligamentous condition. Likewise, it is imperative one take an action on both the yin and yang chakra by stimulating DU 11 between T5/6.
The same is true for the 3rd chakra, as it connects with the Stomach meridian and the earth element. Its posterior chakra is specifically at the double point of DU7 and DU6 between T10/11 and T11/12. It is imperative to realize that the earth element is divided: The 2nd chakra is likewise associated with the earth element; however, it is related specifically to the Spleen meridian and associated with the color orange. This entire area from the navel to the symphysis pubis constitutes the "tan tien" or center of energy. The Spleen meridian in TCM is responsible for the creation of chi through nourishment.
Those with metal-element situations affecting LU/LI will achieve significant results by stimulating the 7th chakra relating to DU 20, and specific vertebral stimulation at DU16 at the atlanto/occipital area. Keep in mind the color associated with the 7th chakra is violet; however, white is likewise associated here, as it is the culmination of all the colors. The color white is reflective of the metal element. DU 20 has a very powerful effect on any condition affecting the Lung or Large Intestine meridians. Academically, it is not a classic point for these meridians, but is extremely important in chakra-style of acupuncture. Symptoms associated with the fire element have shown stunning success by utilizing Ren 1 in the perineum. It can also be reached through the posterior at DU 3 between L4/5. As opposed to stimulating Ren 1 in its delicate location, utilizing the Korean hand point (at the base of the hand, just distal of the wrist on the palmar surface) has shown stellar effects.
The one chakra that does not have a specific color associated with the Five Elements is the 6th chakra: indigo. This combines the blue of the 5th chakra and the violet of the 7th chakra. In clinical applications, it has a very strong influence on the Kidney meridian. Just as the 2nd and 3rd chakras are divided into orange (which does not exist on the Five Elements) for the 2nd chakra and yellow for the 3rd chakra, the same occurs at the 5th, 6th and 7th chakras. Consider the Bladder meridian associated with the 5th Chakra, and the Kidney at the 6th.
Note how the ida and pingala cross at DU 26; however, there is no mention of a chakra located here. This is perhaps one of the most powerful points on the body for a variety of conditions often overlooked in acupuncture. Most practitioners know this point to be effective in reviving a fainted patient; however, it is extremely powerful for pain and anxiety. It meets all of the criteria of a chakra in the fact it is at the junction of the crossing ida and pingala; however, it is usually not associated with a chakra location. In my opinion, DU 26 is a landmark acupuncture point. Begin to use it in any pain condition. This point is so powerful, I will have to reserve further comment for an entire article devoted specifically to its application.
Any practitioner who is academically knowledgeable of the Five Elements can utilize some creative imagination and successfully treat hundreds of conditions specifically through the chakras. Assume a patient visits your clinic with a complaint of macular degeneration. Besides the typical medical approach to this condition, the practitioner will draw a corollary between the eyes and the Liver meridian. This, of course, would be associated with the color green, which is the 4th chakra, which has its key point on the yin side at CV (Ren) 17 and on the yang side at DU11-T5/6.
Electro-meridian imaging (EMI) has shown incredible promise in contemporary acupuncture with regard to this application. Upon electronic examination, any time a paired meridian such as BL/KI or LU/LI is involved by being elevated, depressed or split, direct action to the chakra has shown quicker stabilization of the meridians. This same concept can be applied to auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture). This is accomplished by discovering the involved paired or single meridian electronically, then locating the corresponding ear point. The effect is extremely noteworthy.
When one begins to correlate the various factors attributed to the Five Elements such as environmental; emotional; body parts; senses; tastes, etc., and begins treating the yin and yang chakra related to a specific condition, it opens up a dimension in acupuncture that is one of the easiest, most effective techniques one can ever employ.