An Alternate Method For Choosing The Right Formula For Your Patients
By Masaaki Nakano, DOM
A constant question for us in the clinic is when to make adjustments and when to stay the course. A patient comes in and says, "Things are the same as last week." How do you determine if you need to change your treatment or continue with what you started the previous week?
In general, I believe that acupuncture helps with spontaneous healing and can provide quick relief.
I use Chinese herbs as well as supplements to support the treatment and sustain the effects of the acupuncture in order to promote a speedy and full recovery.
In the United States, we have an advantage in that we can prescribe herbs and do acupuncture at the same time, not like in Japan. In my practice, I try to keep a global perspective when looking at both acupuncture and herbs. The Vital Energy Muscle (VEM) test can really help us hone in on the right formula that will help push the acupuncture treatment to the next level.
VEM testing is beneficial in that it is a way to evaluate which herbs are working and how effectively. If there are stalls or slow results, the VEM test can determine with more confidence if the person should continue with the formula or if we need to adjust. Also, the VEM test can help us determine which formula and from which company. In my experience, some patents work for some people, while for other people the same formula, but just a different company is needed. Even minute adjustments can make all the difference in the world when it comes to progress for a patient.
When starting out prescribing herbs over 20 years ago, I lacked confidence to allow tongue and pulse alone to guide me to the correct formula. Over the years, I have developed this system which hopefully will give you another tool in your clinic to be able to arrive at an appropriate herbal formula or supplement for your patients.
Vital Energy Muscle Testing
Vital Energy Muscle Testing is based on the fact that the human body and each substance have their own unique electric and electromagnetic fields. This test detects how a particular substance interacts with the human body and even its individual organs. We can determine if the substance interacts with the body in a positive or negative way.
This method allows us to use the sensitivity of the body, which is capable of detecting even a very faint stimulus. We can check the change in the tonus of a minor muscle to observe how the body reacts to that stimulus. This is a very useful method, which allows us to work without the use of diagnostic instruments.
Concept of Energy
All substances in reality are composed of vibrating quantum fields. Everything in the cosmos is made of clusters of elementary particles and life takes distinct shape based on how these clusters interact. Everything is woven together in one inter-linked whole.
The human body is no exception – it is made of the same elementary particles. Clusters of these particles take on different vibrations and create distinct energy fields – such as the hepatic or the nephric energy fields. Looked at as a whole, the human body appears to be one seamless energy field. Viewed more closely it will show the distinct energy fields of each organ.
I believe that life force expresses in ways that are not always visible to the human eye – such as electromagnetic waves, a micro-current, a frequency, a wavelength, a rhythm, a ray of light and even consciousness. All of these work together to express as life force.
We are alive because the universe gave us resonance power. This is more than a vibration – a vibration implies a solitary wave. Resonance, on the other hand, suggests two or more things communicating.
Stagnation, deficiency, and disharmony of this energy produce the abnormal conditions in the human body – in other words, disease.
System of Vital Energy Muscle Testing
This test can detect any abnormality in the human energy field.
By placing slight pressure on certain areas of the body, we can stimulate a sensory neuron to send a message across the cerebral centrum, where it is judged to be either a healthy or unhealthy influence. From the brain, this information is transmitted through the cerebral spine, then along nervous pathways (in this case, to the arms and hands and fingers) and is expressed in the muscular strength or weakness of the circle made by the person's fingers.
There exist unique and deep connections between the sensory and motor cortex of the brain and the hands. This allows the fingers to respond and reflect the judgment by the cerebral centrum. We could theoretically use any part of the body to gather this information, but due to this deep connection with the hands, we can get a more accurate response.
Another reason to use the fingers to carry out this test is because the finger muscles fatigue much less quickly than other muscle groups, allowing us to perform the test multiple times.
What Can We Determine From This Test?
There are several things you can determine from this test, here are a few:
Normal and abnormal regions of the body.
The existence of internal substances, such as bacteria, virus, fungus, toxins, etc.
The appropriateness of various Chinese medicinal herbs and formulas, supplements, foods, drinks, etc., for the individual's body
Basic Instructions For Carrying Out The VEM Test
Step 1: Ask the patient to connect the right thumb and small finger, making a circle.
Step 2: The examiner will grasp the patient's thumb by connecting the thumb and index finger. With the other hand, the examiner will grasp the patient's small finger by connecting the thumb and index finger. In this way, the examiner will be positioned to pull apart the circle made by the patient with his or her own hands.
Step 3: The examiner asks the patient to hold their fingers gently together. Then, he will lightly pull in opposite directions to pull the fingers apart.
The patient concentrates on just lightly maintaining contact with the two fingers. It is important that the patient does not engage the muscles strongly in order to create the circle.
It is important to teach the patient what level of strength is necessary to maintain their fingers together. If I would like to test various internal organs of the patient, for example thymus, liver, pancreas, stomach, etc., I lightly and briefly make contact with that point with the tip of my thumb, after which I perform the VEM test on the patient's circle.
There are various levels of resistance that I find when trying to open a patient's circle – I categorize them as Levels 0-4, where Level 0 is the weakest, and Level 4 is the strongest.
The test is repeated many times until you have ascertained which herbal formula and dosage are appropriate for the patient.
A Simple Case Study
You have done the intake and palpation for a patient and believe that they are a candidate for a Liver Qi stagnation formula. You have many formulas to choose from, how do you know which?
Brand A: Free and Easy Wanderer (Xiao Yao San)
Brand B: Relaxed Wanderer
Brand C: Bupleurum and Tang Kuei Formula
They are all, theoretically, essentially the same formula. They should all work the same. In my experience, this is not true. Also if you look in the guidebooks, the indications are slightly different:
Bupleurum and Tang Kuei Formula: Typical Liver Qi stagnation symptoms, also includes constipation as key indication.
Relaxed wanderer: Liver Qi stagnation symptoms but also with and loose stool.
Free and Easy Wanderer: Doesn't specify either loose stool or constipation.
Sometimes you carry the correct patent for the patient, but not all clinicians carry several brands of the same formula. What do you do if the patent doesn't work? Do you keep going until it does? The VEM test can help us figure out if it is working, the proper dosage, and whether or not a different patent of the same name can work better.
These three patents have the same name, but sometimes they don't work. The VEM test can also help us figure out how to combine, and in what dosage ratio. I have tested for two pills of two different formulas but not gotten a clear result from the VEM test in terms of which is more appropriate, but by simply adding a third pill the VEM tests are more clear. Additionally, this can help us figure out how to taper-off of a formula.
Since incorporating this test into my practice, I achieved much quicker results, and with longer lasting changes. The VEM test is a tool. Learn to use it appropriately, and it can be very useful in your clinic.
Dr. Nakano currently maintains his practice in Las Cruces, NM. He is a graduate of the International Institute of Chinese Medicine (Santa Fe, NM) and he also attended Xi Yuan Hospital – Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Beijing).