My sister Judy called me on my birthday during my first acupuncture training in Sri Lanka. Our father had had a heart attack and a blood clot in his left leg. She was afraid he might die….
I needed a break from my studies so I went to see my parents in Kansas. This is years before I had established my acupuncture clinic in Kansas City.
My father’s left leg was cool and white. The first day I put needles in it and it turned pink and warm.
I believe had we stopped there, he would have lived to his natural death with 2 legs. However, chemical intervention at a famous clinic here in the U.S. wiped out the arteries in his leg making, sadly, amputation inevitable. It was a sad story though it brought us closer together as father and son, as I “held his hand” through the whole process.
My patient had incontinence. She’s a petite woman in her seventies who’d given birth to 5 children. She had been suffering from incontinence for several years, even having a $30,000 machine surgically implanted in her body, which wasn’t working…
I’d tried Chinese acupuncture and moxabustion with some effect. Better, but not cured. Then I tried a Japanese acupuncture treatment of tonifying the lung.
The lungs in 5 element acupuncture theory is the mother of the kidney. In this theory, the mother organ (lung) nourishes the child (kidney). This is why some people with incontinence report that they involuntarily urinate when they sneeze.
This Japanese treatment worked, but the effect was less after two days. So I had her take daily a Chinese herbal formula to tonify her kidneys. Now she is much better and has her former and natural urge to urinate before she looses control.
Twenty seven years ago, in the first week of my training (21 years before I opened my acupuncture clinic in Kansas City) a lanky, 18 year old, Sri Lankan man, named Prethap, came up to me and ask “Will you treat me today? My doctor is away for 2 days.”
“What are you being treated for?”
“Epilepsy” he replied.
“I don’t know how to treat epilepsy.”
“Ask one of the teachers” he suggested.
The teacher told me what points to use. I inserted the needles.
Prethap seemed pleased.
The next day he came to our clinic in Kalubowia hospital to be treated again. I used the same points.
Then his doctor, who’d treated him 6 times per week for 2 years to no avail, returned and I was out of the loop.
A friendship, though, had began between Prethap and myself and we would visit everyday. After a few months had passed, Prethap confided, “Paul, since you treated me, I’ve not had a seizure.”
I was stunned. He was my first patient. I didn’t know how to treat epilepsy, and I’d had to ask a teacher where to put the needles.
“What do your parents think?” I asked.
The next day Prethap answered, “My father says, ‘God is never late.'”
She fluttered into my Kansas City Acupuncture Clinic with her neck out of place. Even though she was in pain, she had lost none of her fairy-like demeanor. I knew her from the Kansas psychic fair when she paints pictures of people’s auras.
I felt her pulse and sensed that she was also frustrated. Pain will do that. Her pulse was too fast.
I inserted needles to straighten her neck and calm her frustration.
A half hour later, she prepared to leave. With her neck straight, her pulse rate normal and her spirit calmed, my fairy-like patient fluttered to her car.
She came into my Kansas City Acupuncture clinic (which is really in Prairie village) for treatment of her rhinitis, fibromyalgia related constipation, vaginal pain, insomnia and hot flashes. I treated her with Japanese acupuncture and she felt better. I prescribed a chinese herbal formula for her yin deficiency, as indicted by a tongue examination. Afterwards, I looked at her back and saw that it was bowed sideways. I resolved on the second treatment to threat her back.
When she arrived for her second treatment, I examined her back and it was, seemingly miraculously, straight. Her face and voice had more vitality. Her constipation was no more and her hot flashes and vaginal pain better.
Jimmie was 8 years old when his father brought him to me for his daily headaches. His tongue was deviated to the left, itself a sign of an underlying condition in Chinese medicine that causes headaches.
Ater two treatments with a child’s daily dose of a herbal formula for headaches, his tongue was straight and his headaches gone. I had him come for three more treatments then we quit, as he was well.
Bonnie from Kansas City came into my Prairie Village clinic complaining of frustration. This was quite a complaint coming from a school teacher with a natural Mary Poppins demeanor. The children love her, I’m sure.
It bothered her that she would occasionally be short with the children. And her frustration seed to cause headaches and insomnia just before her periods began.
I treated her for frustration, headaches, and insomnia. I also put her on, what I call, my “herbal formula for world peace.” She loves it so that she continues to take it 3 years later!!
Mark, a new Kansas City patient, came into my Prairie Village office with a “Frozen Shoulder.” He had been treated by a Chiropractor for 3 months.
I examined him and found his neck was crooked in his lower cervical vertabra. I inserted very thin (12 thousandth’s of an inch) needles in to his elbows and his neck. It was a Japanese treatment. Immediately he could elevate his arm.
When he returned a week later, his neck was straight and his shoulder much, much better.
Ludies back hurt. Her son Harvey, who sings with Gloria Gaynor, was home to bring his mother to try Japanese Acupuncture. It had been a few years since she’d been to my clinic.
I went to work first on her back, then palpated her abdomen, Japanese style. When I finished she remarked, “I feel so good and my back doesn’t hurt.” She’ll come back when her son Harvey returns from a gig in Europe.
My patient had gotten sad at Christmas time. Memories of an early on Christmas Eve when her children were young had bubbled up to her conscious mind… Her husband, at the time, had left her that evening years before to be with another woman. In Chinese medicine, each organ has an emotion. It may not surprise you to know that the emotion of the lung is sadness.
Memories of that dreadfully sad Christmas Eve so weakened her lung Qi that she got, what ultimately, became pneumonia. She was very sick and eventually kicked the pneumonia with antibiotics. But her lungs, her voice, and energy level were weak.
I had begun practicing Japanese acupuncture and used it on her. In one session, she was so much better that she didn’t need to return for one month, and when she did, it was for other things.
I had cured his 60-ish father’s knee pain in 3 Japanese acupuncture treatments, so the son Dusty a highway patrolman–his last name isn’t but should have been Rhodes–came to me for his lower back pain which had plagued him for years. With the help of a lift in one of his shoes, I got his pelvis and hips level. Then I did acupuncture to get the pain to ease and re-establish the flow of energy. He left with no pain.
He had poor circulation in his legs. With Chinese acupuncture and Chinese herbology we had made great progress. He was so pleased, he began bringing his 92 year old mother to me. More about that in a future blog post.
Brian would be moody, it seemed. Sometimes he was so quiet I worried what was wrong.
Then I began practicing Japanese acupuncture on him. As the weeks progressed, he told me his constipation was gone. His bowels were now moving several times per day and he became more talkative in a most normal and pleasant sort of way. And his face became more clear. He simply looked better and he reported that he felt much better.
I wasn’t trying to cure constipation as I didn’t even know about it. I simply was following the protocols of rebalancing his body with Japanese acupuncture, as taught Kiki Matsumoto.
My patient came in with a copy of “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” under her arm.
She elaborated how it was helping her to feel better. I opened her copy of this book by Peter D’Adamo and looked up my blood type, A.
To my astonishment, I was already following his diet for my blood type!
I became a vegetarian for spiritual reasons, I thought. Dr. D’Adamo say type A’s are agrarian and do best as vegetarians. Not true of type O’s…they like meat!!
I read on. We type A’s like pumpkin seeds, olive oil, black beans, soy beans. Years before, I had already naturally gravitated towards these foods.
Lima beans aren’t good for us. I refused to eat them as a child. I knew! I wasn’t a character defect! He says type A’s should avoid butter. I avoided it thinking it would make me fat, and once had a stick of butter in my refrigerator for 5 years until a house guest threw it out!
I quote Dr. D’Adamo, “It will be a challenge to learn what your blood already knows!”
I recommend his book from your library or bookseller.
Richard Johnson is one of the five remaining classical guitarists trained by the Spanish virtuoso Andres Segovia Torres (1893-1987). He resides in Kansas City where he came to Paul Finney for acupuncture to regain complete control of one of his fingers. He regained control of the finger on the first acupuncture treatment and continues to come to get the finger stronger.
Segovia, quoting Wikipedia, was a classical guitarist from Linares, Spain. He is the father of modern classical guitar and has been regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Practically all professional classical guitarists today are students of Segovia, or students of his students.
Segovia’s contribution to the modern-romantic repertoire not only included commissions but also his own transcriptions of classical or baroque works. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive musical personality, phrasing and style.
Segovia was sent at a very young age to live with his uncle Eduardo and his wife Maria. Eduardo arranged for Segovia’s first music lessons with a violin teacher after recognizing that Segovia had an aptitude for music. This proved to be an unhappy introduction to music for the young Segovia because of the teacher’s strict methods, and Eduardo stopped the lessons. His uncle decided to move to Granada to allow Segovia to obtain a better education; after arriving in Granada Segovia recommenced his musical studies. Segovia was aware of flamenco during his formative years as a musician but stated that he “did not have a taste” for the form and chose instead the works of Sor, Tárrega and other classical composers. Tárrega agreed to give the self-taught Segovia some lessons but died before they could meet and Segovia states that his early musical education involved the “double function of professor and pupil in the same body”.
Richard Johnson is a seasoned performer who has appeared as soloist with many orchestras throughout the country. He began his studies with great impresario and teacher Walter A. Fritschy. He was one of the select students to perform at the famous class of 1965, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain with Andres Segovia. He then studied for three years with Oscar Ghiglia in Paris. He has taught in both the San Francisco and Kansas City Conservatories. His own students include Ray Reussner and Charles King. Johnson, Fritschy, and Joe Cozad are the original founders of the Kansas City Guitar Society. He currently maintains a residence in Kansas City, but has strong ties to Wichita, Kansas. He has long performed in its night scene, as a soloist and as the leader of various ensembles. He has been a long standing member and supporter of the Wichita Guitar Society. He has been closely associated with Irma Wassall since early days as the Wichita Society of the Classical Guitar. Johnson now focuses his energy on composing and arranging music for the Jazz & Latin mediums. His performance with Monte Muza featured a sophisticated blend of original compositions and arrangements on steel and nylon strings. It was one of the highlights of its 2004 Jazz Matinée series. He is very pleased to be currently working with bassist Roberto Bernardinello.
Recently Rosie Matchette, owner of the Colon Care Center of Overland Park, in the Kansas City area, came to me for acupuncture treatment of what appeared to be an arthritic thumb. She had used it for years to squeeze a water hose in her work, and now it was giving her terrible pain. I slaved over her for over an hour with acupuncture and moxabustion. Afterward, it felt better but the pain was not fully gone. We scheduled another appointment for the next week. Over the weekend, she called me to say that the pain was completely gone and she would not need the second appointment! She is now off to England for a vacation, pain free and feeling much better.
I was on a spiritual journey to heal myself of the depression I’d experienced from the age of fourteen. It was so painful that during my college years in California, I would debate whether I should jump off the Golden Gate or the Bay Bridge. Post college, I got through the army and a year in Viet Nam with remarkable alacrity. A year in Los Angeles and a decade in Florida lead to some years in Washington, D.C. where my healing began in earnest.
I had survived life by trying harder, working more and clinging to life with my fingernails.
I was in a weekend meditation retreat in an ashram in Washington, taught by a Presbyterian minister from Harlem. He had a glow about him that told me he had experienced great healing and spiritual growth from his meditation. I liked him and trusted him. I sat next to a guy who, like me, was from a small town in Kansas. He had a squashed look to him as if his spirit had been wounded at an early age. With enthusiasm, he told me about his acupuncture treatments.
I thought, “What a weird thing to do,” but listened intently as I knew he was very sincere. On subsequent visits to this particular ashram, I would see him and hear more enthusiastic accounts of his acupuncture. Then for some reason unknown to me, he quit coming and I didn’t see him.
Then about 18 months later, I ran into him on the hot sidewalks one summer evening in the DuPont Circle area of Washington. The squashed look was gone. Before me stood a man with dancing eyes, radiant round cheeks and a happy smile. As we visited, I said to myself, “I don’t need to know any more about acupuncture, I’m trying it.”
I’d also met an acupuncturist at the ashram, though not the one my friend was going to. I’d misplaced his number, but a few days later he called. “Paul, have you thought anymore about doing acupuncture.”
“Yes, let’s make an appointment,” I replied. He had got the vibes that I was thinking about him and took the initiative to call me.
At his office, I was just sure his eyes had become slanted, even though he was Caucasian. It was my own fear of this very Oriental medicine.
After my first treatment, I looked in the mirror. I liked myself more, and thought I looked better. My self-esteem had not been any too high, so this was a welcome event.
Each visit, Dan, my acupuncturist would read the multiple pulses on my wrists, look at my tongue and ask me a host of questions about my life and how I felt. Then he would go to work with my lying on his table in the supine position. He would read my pulses again after the treatment to make sure he got the intended result.
I saw him once a week, and as the months rolled by, I felt so much better, looked better and liked myself better. That summer I had my picture made on plexiglass by a computer etching method while I was on vacation in Estes Park, Colorado. I didn’t wear my glasses and scrunched up my cheeks while smiling. I wore a cowboy hat I’d just bought in a western store and a jacket with epaulets. The result looked like some cowboy movie star.
I gave the photos etched on plexiglass away as Christmas presents. The woman who had changed my diapers when I was a baby, and who had known and loved me all my life, wrote back. “Thanks for the picture. It is very nice, but who is it?” Love, Norma
Next month: I decide to become an acupuncturist, and begin treating patients in Asia.
When I was a boy, a friend and I would bandy about the terms “yin” and “yang,” but it was not until I studied Chinese Medicine that I came to have a fuller understanding of their meaning. As I tell my audiences when I speak before civic clubs and other community organizations, the dichotomy of yin and yang is best explained by the dichotomy of matter and energy.
And the dichotomy of matter and energy is best exemplified by that of the earth and sun. From the earth we get all the matter or yin that we need to sustain life. From the sun comes the energy or yang that sustains us, the earth, and its creatures, and makes the plants that we eat (matter or yin) grow.
In Chinese Medicine, our bodies are composed of yin and yang. To be sure, there is a more elementary building block called jing or vital essence. People who are born with an abundance of jing may age slowly and live long lives, and vice-versa. One can supplement and conserve his vital essence by eating well, living wisely and avoiding dissipating his jing in foolish living.
In Chinese Medicine the kidneys are the repository of jing, yin and yang, and they supply the other organs with these vital and basic substances of life. From jing, yin and yang, the body makes blood and chi. We know from our Western educations and from cutting our fingers what blood is. Qi is an eastern notion often defined as vital life force energy.
The body makes qi in several of the vital organs from jing, yin and yang, the food that we eat and air that we breathe. Qi is primarily a yang (energy) substance, though it has some yin (matter) in it. Think of it as energy with some substance (yin) added.
Blood is primarily a yin substance (matter), but not entirely as it has some qi, a yang substance in it. So blood is substance made from both yin and yang, though it is mostly yang. Think of the qi in the blood as giving it more life, helping it to flow.
So in building our Chinese model of the body, we began with jing (vital essence), yin and yang, and now understand blood and qi. The qi flows through the acupuncture meridians and in so doing helps regulate the functions of the vital organs.
One of my earliest teachers told me that the meridian men (doctors) of ancient China could see the acupuncture meridians. This reminds me of the Renaissance paintings of Jesus and the disciples. I used to wonder as a boy in Sunday school why they painted the halos around these Biblical figures. Then one day in adulthood it occurred to me that maybe it was because people could actually see the halos (auras).
Over twenty years ago in Wichita, where I began my practice, I had just finished treating a patient, when she remarked, as she ran her index finger down her leg, “Oh, I see the meridian.” And her finger jogged exactly where the stomach meridian jogs below the knee. Whatever doubts I may have had about the actual existence of the meridians vanished. More recently researchers have discovered an actual physicality to the meridians such that they may yet end up in the Western anatomy textbooks. Now, that will be a paradigm shift!
Most of you have seen mannequins or graphics depicting the acupuncture meridians of the body. I have not included such a picture in this article as I want to emphasize other things.
The theory of Chinese Medicine was constructed two to three thousand years ago before modern science invented the electron microscope let alone the microscope itself. With their deep insight and wisdom, the ancient doctors related the emotions and character strengths to the vital organs and the five elements.
In Chinese Medicine there are five elements, reminiscent of the four elements in Greek philosophy. They are depicted in the graph as water, wood, fire, earth and metal. They nourish each other in the cycle as depicted. Water makes wood grow. Wood feeds the burning fire. Fire turns to ash (earth). And from the earth we get metal. That water flows from metal (unless you think of a pipe) is less evident. That water flows from metal is not as important in keeping the model neat and tidy when one reflects that water (the kidneys) is the source of yin and yang, starting the whole cycle over.
This cycle of the elements and organs nourishing one another is the tip of the iceberg in the interrelationship of the organs. There is a complex set of interrelationships such that when the body and the emotions are healthy, the organs hold each other in homeostasis and vice-versa.
The second chart shows the relationship of the five vital yin and yang organs to the elements, seasons, emotions and even, amazingly, virtues.
There is a correspondence between East and West in sayings or aphorisms of our cultures. I am one of these people who worries about the turtles getting across the highways after the spring rains bring them out in April. Once I pulled my car over, got out and picked up a turtle to get him quickly across the road before a car ran over him. Fortunately I held him at arm’s length, as he immediately urinated. We make jokes about people wetting their pants. Just look at the chart. Fear is the emotion of the kidney and bladder.
In Chinese medicine the liver is often said to be involved in allergies. I have a patient who in the spring (the season of the liver which is of the element wood) has her allergies flare up and, left untreated, she gets so angry she feels road rage when driving. Now this is a very intelligent spiritual woman just telling me how her body reacts. A college friend of mine is a liver patient if ever there was one. He can get angry easily, but his virtue is that he can be very benevolent to others.
The heart in Chinese Medicine is said to be the emperor or controller of the body. Now the emperor, in order to keep the respect of his subjects and rule wisely, must have the very best sense of propriety, otherwise the kingdom would not run smoothly. Notice in the chart that the virtue of fire or the heart is propriety. In Western literature and folklore, summer is the time of romance (joy of the heart).
My father had a wonderful expression, “He vented his spleen, ” by which he meant he expressed his anxiety. In Chinese Medicine the spleen and stomach are paired yin and yang organs, both of the element earth. We know that people who worry too much get stomach ulcers.
That our lung’s emotion is sadness should be self-evident. When we cry, it is a paroxysm of our lungs. When we are sad or tired we catch colds, as the protective qi set up by the lungs is weakened and the wind and cold invade our meridians. Ever notice when you or others have a cold that depression or fatigue is often involved?