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Acupuncture Today – September, 2002, Vol. 03, Issue 09

Contemporary Acupuncture Diagnosis: Electro-Meridian Diagnosis

By John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA)

In 1951, Dr.Yoshio Nakatani MD, PhD developed a method of examining the meridian system of the body through electronic measurements that altered the way acupuncture would be practiced throughout Japan, Europe, Australia and North America.

Referred to as ryodoraku by Nakatani, its use would become international within 25 years of discovery.

Diagram of showing Source and tsing points of the wrists and ankles. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Source (yuan) and tsing (jing-well) points of the wrists and ankles. In or around 1957, a medical delegation from the People's Republic of China visited Japan and became fascinated with Dr. Nakatani's discovery. The Chinese delegation visited Nakatani's clinic, making detailed observations into the procedure, and was amazed at both the theory and therapeutic effects. Following the delegation's return to the PRC, the daily newspapers published several articles concerning ryodoraku examination and treatment together with case reports of treatment. Requests were made of Dr. Nakatani to visit the PRC; however, due to political concerns, Nakatani declined all invitations. Ultimately, reports of ryodoraku and electronic evaluation of the meridian system would stop coming from China. It is agreed by authorities that needle/electronic analgesia developed in China was spawned by Nakatani's original work.

Diagram showing source and tsing points of the wrists and ankles. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Source (yuan) and tsing (jing-well) points of the wrists and ankles. Nakatani first developed the procedure of electronic evaluation of the meridian system by measuring skin conductance at the yuan (source) point of the wrist and ankle. By doing so, he created one of the most significant acupuncture diagnostic methods that has yet to be created in either contemporary or traditional acupuncture. When one compares the findings of learned Asian masters of acupuncture using pulse diagnosis with the findings of ryodoraku, the meridians shown to be involved are identical. Masters of acupuncture are known to palpate the 12 pulse positions for as long as 15-30 minutes per wrist in select cases. Electronic evaluation of the 12 yuan points takes less than a total of two minutes regardless of the complications of the case.

Diagram showing source and tsing points of the wrists and ankles. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Source (yuan) and tsing (jing-well) points of the wrists and ankles. Electronic measurement evaluation of the patient's yuan points does not determine the same indications seen as when the specific 28 pulse characteristics are analyzed via proper pulse diagnosis. It does, however, determine if an individual meridian is excess or deficient in comparison to the entire meridian system average of the 12 primary meridians.

When one finds an elevated or deficient meridian on ryodoraku, the treatment approach is to specifically tonifiy or sedate the acupuncture points known to replenish or deplete biomagnetic energy. By doing so, this action will create balance in the meridians. Electronic measurements are ascertained by examining the bilateral 24 specific yuan points of the wrist and ankles for only three seconds per point.

Diagram showing sedation, tonification and luo points. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Sedation, tonification and luo points. Ryodoraku is practiced by measuring the source point with an inexpensive instrument designed specifically for this purpose. By adding the measured values of each of the 12 meridian exam points together and dividing by 24 (representing the 12 bilateral meridians), the practitioner may develop a base average. The status of the meridians may be determined by being too high or too low in relation to the base average. In the mid-1980s, the art of electronic evaluation for diagnostic purposes in acupuncture entered into high technology by incorporating computer enhanced evaluation.

One of the most significant discoveries of ryodoraku was the discovery of split meridians, which had never before been seen or described in the history of acupuncture. For example, in pulse diagnosis, the pulse of the Spleen, Lung and San Jiao meridian are always found in the right wrist, whereas the Gallbladder, Kidney and Liver are always analyzed in the left wrist. When one derives a diagnosis from the 28 pulse qualities, it can reveal a multitude of factors that can only be ascertained through the pulse. However, it cannot and does not reveal what ryodoraku has discovered.

Because ryodoraku evaluation utilizes measurements of the yuan points bilaterally, it often reveals especially in severe cases, with the meridians exhibiting a split in numerical value between left and right sides of the body. As ryodoraku measures the yuan points of both sides of the body, it is able to detect a diagnostic situation that was virtually unknown until ryodoraku's invention. By utilizing the luo point of the split meridian, a correction can be made in a split (left-to-right) meridian. Luo points classically and traditionally are used to link a coupled meridian, such as Lung/Large Intestine. In auriculotherapy, this correction between splits can be treated by the master oscillation point.

Example graph showing involved meridians. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Example graph conducted without computer program showing involved meridians (high, low, split). Bottom of graph illustrates acupoints to use for tonification, sedation or luo points. Evaluation of the musculotendinous meridians seen in orthopedic conditions is ascertained by the same procedure but using the tsing (jing-well) points. Yuan and tsing point evaluation are two entirely different examinations of two different meridian systems.

The system of ryodoraku was renamed electro-meridian imaging (EMI) by myself in 1982. It gave the procedure a more contemporary descriptive term for today's patient. This electronic method of evaluation is reliable; duplicable; easy to learn and employ; and is extremely simple to explain to the patient. It is literally changing the way acupuncture is being used both diagnostically and therapeutically internationally.

With EMI being available to acupuncturists and physicians through computer enhanced imaging, it has become state-of-the-art to allow a trained technician or practitioner to conduct this significant diagnosis in less than two minutes. The computer hardware requirement is an easy-to-use, simple design that currently requires a computer running a minimum of 486K with a Windows operating system. It is attractive, professional and impressive to both doctors and patients. Referrals for this electronic acupuncture examination can be numerous to overwhelming. The typical Western minded patient exhibits much more confidence in this contemporary, electronic, computer enhanced style of examination than ancient pulse diagnosis. It allows the patient to take home a printed copy of their graphic interpretation as well as diagnostic criteria. In addition, a copy of involved meridians may be printed, or a copy of specific points the patient may use at home to accelerate clinical response.

Space limits the full explanation of this procedure. Should any reader of this column wish an EMI descriptive booklet that shows the examination procedure in detail along with the computer screens from the software, simply e-mail your request to me the address below. You may also send your request directly to my columnist page at, click the "Talk Back" button and log your request. Best wishes for a great late summer/autumn!

Click here for previous articles by John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA).

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