AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging
Your dentist or orthopedist would not do major work without X-rays, but too many Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners will undertake courses of treatment without an accurate, visual depiction of the energy status of the prime energy meridians in a patient’s body. To be sure, there are TCM practitioners who can make excellent diagnoses simply through a course of evaluation, the same way that some orthopedists can diagnose a torn ligament or broken bone simply by touch. How much better, though, to have the results of an X-ray or other neutral diagnostic measure For TCM, the most helpful neutral measure is the AcuGraph. The AcuGraph is a computer-aided diagnostic tool to measure energy flow through the main meridians and channels of the body.
The AcuGraph Basics
The AcuGraph works by measuring electrical conductivity in the body. Your TCM practitioner will have you extend your hands and feet. Because energy meridians run through the entire body including these extremities, no further undressing is necessary. The AcuGraph connects to a moist, external probe that the doctor will touch to pre-determined acupuncture needle placement points on the extremities. Ultimately, the AcuGraph creates a graph indicating the status of energy in each meridian and channel. The TCM doctor can use this information in conjunction with the findings of a physical examination and better create a treatment plan for the individual patient.
The procedure is non-invasive and completely painless. Each touch of the probe takes a few seconds. The probe is not powered, nor electrified.
The History of Meridian Imaging
TCM has been practiced in east Asia for five millennia, and rests on a theoretical underpinning quite different from that of western medicine. At the heart of TCM is the intuitive idea that energy flows through the Universe, the solar system, the Earth, and the human body. Energy is the life force that sustains us. When we inevitably die, our energy returns to the biosphere. This energy in the body is called chi (and pronounced CHEE, as in cheese). TCM posits, and 5,000 years of clinical treatment has borne out, that chi flows through different energy meridians and channels in the body. Everyone has these meridians, which are paired the same way that lungs, eyes, ears, and kidneys are paired.
Meridians are not just pathways for energy, but are connected to the functioning of different bodily systems and organs. TCM counts a dozen of these meridians. While the meridians may or may not run directly through or near particular organs or systems, the energy flow in the meridians has an impact on the organs and affects its functioning. Too much energy, or – the more likely case – too little energy can lead to health problems. The frequent role of the TCM doctor is to assess the meridians and prescribe treat that can either harness or unblock energy flows in them.
For several thousand years, TCM doctors could assess the status of meridians only through related effects. If lung function in a patient were distressed, that would be an indication of an issue for a particular meridian. A scientific breakthrough came in the early 1950s, when a Japanese doctor named Nakatani began to measure electrical conduction on his patient’s skin, and then correlate these measurements with their physical symptoms. He found points on the body that tended to cluster on TCM meridians that were locations of greater conductivity. He called these sites ryodoraku, from the Japanese words for “good,” “electro-conductive,” and “line.” Interestingly, these points of conductivity often matched tradition acupuncture needle insertion locations. TCM and western scientific measurement were beginning to merge.
Nakatani’s early methodology was primitive, but he improved his measurement techniques as his awareness of the available technology grew. Ultimately, he created an instrument that measured conductivity by touch – a simpler and less precise version than the AcuGraph wands that are available today. Even with 1950s and 1960s technology, though, Nakatani was able to identify energy blockages, deficiencies, and excesses in his patients, and then respond to those blockages with TCM. He used acupuncture to boost the energy flow in meridians where there might be energy stagnation, and to calm meridians where there was excess energy. Other acupuncture points balanced the flow of paired meridians so that neither side of the body was favored or disfavored.
Nakatami’s efforts, and their refinement by subsequent TCM practitioners, have been borne out by various research students that support the idea that acupuncture channels and meridians are active electrically and can reflect increased conductivity. The same is true with acupuncture needle insertion – measurement of a meridian where energy has stagnated, and then post-treatment measurement, shows an indisputable increase in conductivity, as reflected on the neutral AcuGraph. (Parenthetically, there are other objective measures associated with acupuncture insertion points, such as greater reflectivity of light, but it is electricity that is our main concern here).
Clinical Reliability and Validity of the AcuGraph
If AcuGraph readings were erratic, they would be of no use to TCM doctors. Experience and intense testing, though, vouch for their reliability. Normal resistance in the skin runs from 500 ohms up to 9 megaohms, on repeated measurement. Acupunture insertion points can be precisely measured to 5 mm. by taking measures of electricity resistance with the AcuGraph wand, because the points will be between twice and six times as conductive as a random patch of skin. Moreover, in the days of Nakatani, graphing meridians was a time consuming process subject to human error. Nonetheless, many TCM doctors found it worthwhile. The addition of computers and printers to the process makes the AcuGraph many times more accurate. Developed by Miridia Technology, Inc., automatic graphing first came onto the scene in 2002, to near universal acclaim and acceptance within the TCM community. Patients should ask their TCM doctors whether the technology is on hand, and whether it is appropriate for use. A blank stare in return ought raise doubts in the patient’s mind as to how current their doctor is on developments in TCM technology.