During my trip to Barcelona, I heard a talk by Dr. Yongli Ni, who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the Washington, D.C. area. I remember clearly the initial she case gave. It was about a woman in the middle of her life, who had come to be debilitated, hardly able to walk. After setting the stage, Dr Ni threw out this jawdropper:
“This woman was born in 1954. Earth excessive year.” She said this with one finger held up firmly for emphasis, then continued, "And what happened right before she became sick?” She held up the finger up for emphasis again, preparing us for her coup de grace. “Earthquake! The tsunami!”
What Dr. Ni was saying was that this woman, from the Chinese point of view, had a strong earth component in her constitution. In Chinese medicine, this has to do with acupuncture energy circuit centering around the stomach and spleen. Thus, she tells us that the disruptions in the earth direct produced by the earthquake directly affected the energy in her body, specifically the energy circuit (meridian) of her spleen and stomach. The resulting imbalance produced a debilitating illness.
So, how did Dr. Ni deal with this issue? Did she bring out her acupuncture cookbook, look up “Can’t walk” and put in a bunch of needles for the “Can’t walk” syndrome? No. That’s exactly what she didn’t do. But note, it’s exactly what many acupuncturists practicing today would have done.
No, what Dr. Ni did is put in one needle–note…one acupuncture needle—right into a key point in the stomach-spleen energy meridian; wham, went right for the source of the imbalance, on which everything else on the surface hinged. That one needle cured the woman’s debility.
I love this case for a couple reasons. Other than a few homeopathic colleagues, Dr. Ni is one of the few people I have known who has a therapeutic intention very close to my own. If you want to understand what a good classical homeopath is trying to do, this is a good place to start. To find that one deep place that will shift the entire system, put your finger on it, and nail it–this for me is good medicine. This is what I do. Whether it lots of different drugs or lots of different acupuncture needles, it is usually sloppy medicine.
The other reason I love this case I plan on writing about tomorrow.