The purpose of this article, and the series to follow, is to offer principles and treatment protocols for the use of light and low-level electrostimulation (microcurrents) in the acupuncture practice.The meridian system has been shown to respond powerfully to such stimulation through the principle of resonance, which may be defined as:
"1. in physics, ... response of an object or a system that vibrates in step or phase with an externally applied oscillatory force, or 2. the enhancement of an atomic, nuclear, or particle reaction ... by excitation of internal motion in the system."1
Frequency and polarity-specific electrical stimulation and color light therapy are two easy-to-practice methods that profoundly affect the energy systems of the body. These aspects of vibrational medicine2 offer acupuncturists precision tools in the treatment of complex and recalcitrant disorders. In the experiences of myself and some colleagues, simultaneous application of microcurrent and colored light stimulation on acupoints has shown great clinical promise by enhancing response and reducing the number of sessions needed for many patients. In his colorpuncture system, Peter Mandel also often recommends pre-treatment of areas to receive color therapy with massage or electrical stimulation. This apparently creates an energetic opening for the light to be received by the body.3
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most enduring systems of vibrational medicine. It is clear that acupuncture is based on some universal truths, as the principles of meridian diagnosis and therapy have been related and applied successfully to a myriad of modern international healing systems. Examples of such systems are auriculotherapy and auriculomedicine; German electroacupuncture (EAV); ryodoraku; kinesiology; and color therapy. The common thread running through many of these systems is the understanding of the body as a sensitive energetic organism in constant relationship and correspondence with microcosmic and macrocosmic energy fields. Ancient Chinese texts relate how pain, illness and disharmony arise in the body when its sensitive relationships with internal (emotional) and external (environmental) influences are disturbed. Treatment is administered with needles, moxa and herbs to balance the body's dysfunctional reactions and adaptations to disharmony. While there is no question that these ancient methods continue to be highly effective, electrical and color therapies can, in many cases, facilitate access to deeper "core" causes of physical pain and disorders rooted in emotional-spiritual blockages and imbalances.
All body functions are governed by electrical systems. This includes muscle contractions and relaxations, nerve function, glandular secretions, brain activity, healing and regeneration, pain perception and so much more. These systems are exquisitely sensitive to external electrical stimulation.4
Scientists such as Nordenstrom of Sweden, Ionescu-Tirgoviste of Romania and Manaka of Japan measured the ways bioelectricity polarizes in the body, and how acupuncture can correct excessive polarization that leads to pain and disease. Mussat of France measured the specific electrical characteristics of acupuncture needles, made of various metals, when inserted into the body. Voll and his German colleagues charted the extra-low electrical frequencies that resonate with specific acupuncture points and meridians, and how these frequencies can correct a host of pain and disease states.5 Practitioners of the modern American art of microcurrent electroacupuncture apply subsensational, frequency and polarity-specific currents to acupuncture points for pain relief, balancing and beautifying effects.
The body constantly generates internal electrical currents in many ways. These include cellular respiration (the Krebs cycle), organ function and piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is the release of electrical charges when tissues such as bone, fascia and the inner lumen of veins are stretched or deformed. When the liver (as defined by Chinese medicine) and other organs are functioning well, this bioelectricity is smoothly circulated throughout the body. When the liver is not functioning well, as is endemic in our society, energy circulation is uneven or retarded, and areas of excessive polarized charge build up in the body. According to Nordenstrom and Ionescu-Tirgoviste, this is a major cause of pain and disease. The acupuncture "te chi" phenomenon is literally the sensation of polarized body areas releasing and balancing with each other, just as lightning is the release of polarized electrical fields in clouds. Application of correct polarities of electrical acupuncture is crucial in facilitating rebalance of the body's electrical fields.6
Subtle electrical signals are transported long distances throughout the body without losing signal strength, an activity called semiconduction. The eastern European researcher Szent-Gyorgyi was the first to point out that the human body semiconducts bioelectricity by passing information along chains of protein molecules.7 The fascial network, which interconnects all parts of the body, has strong semiconductive properties, and is likely the primary substrate of the acupuncture meridian system. As we will soon see, light also communicates through this network.
This is only a brief overview of the electrical nature of the acupuncture phenomenon. Further information is available through the references listed below.
Lighting Up the Body
Light therapies have been used to energize and rebalance the body's energy systems since ancient times. In ancient Egyptian and Greek temples, prisms were reputedly used to refract sunlight into therapeutic colors. You have probably already heard about modern applications of light therapies for such conditions as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), jet lag and depression,8 yet the use of light as medicine applies to a far greater spectrum of physical and emotional disorders. Light is such a powerful healing modality because it is the medium all living things use to function and communicate with each other. By looking into the subatomic particles that make up all matter, physicists have indeed confirmed that light is life itself. Notable scientists such as G. Lakhovsky and F.A. Popp have demonstrated how living things communicate through interplay of electromagnetic fields. Popp coined the term "biophotons" to describe the energy communication between organisms, and how these regulate physiologic functions, including growth; maturation; cell differentiation; enzymatic activity; and the immune system.9
Following the informational principle, James Oschman, PhD stated in his article, "Exploring the Biology of Phototherapy":
"From the biology of the situation, I suggest that the immediate effect of light is on the communications pathways. Specifically, it is proposed that light stimulates the flow of solitons, which are waves of energy and information that travel rapidly through the protein fabric of the body. The flow of solitons opens gates and switches and organizes dynamic living matrix pathways. Cells can then "whisper" to each other using their own languages. These whisperings orchestrate the repair of traumas of all kinds."10
Light is also what flows through our meridian system. In a striking experiment, a group of researchers led by Professor Kaznachejew in Novosibirsk, Russia focused a beam of light on various areas of skin to determine how the body reacts to light radiation.11 Using a photomultiplier device, they discovered light emanating from distant, unradiated points. After studying this phenomenon further, they found that light beamed into certain acupuncture points will propagate through known meridian pathways, but that this phenomenon does not occur between areas not connected by meridians. It appears the meridian system acts in the same way as fiberoptic communication systems. It is likely that the physical substrate for this system is also the body's fascial network. Therefore, both light energy and subtle electrical energy appear to be transported throughout the body via chains of protein molecules.
Based on available evidence, it appears electrical currents work more on a physiologic level, while light currents work more on an informational level. These two forms of energy stimulation may be administered together, and can enhance each other's effects.
The specific therapeutic effects of each color of light have been rigorously documented by researchers such as Dinshah Ghadiali12 and Peter Mandel. Mandel's colorpuncture system13 borrows many diagnostic and treatment principles from acupuncture, including meridian theory, Five-Element color correspondences and "as above, so below" cosmology. Mandel uses the word "information" to describe the input of light on the body. In his view, external trauma, toxicity and psychological stresses create incoherent information in our bodies. Delivering appropriate colored light stimulation is a way to introduce pure information to restore coherence. For example, orange-colored light brings the information of activation, joy and release of new ideas to the meridians and body areas it is applied to, and possesses many specific medical benefits such as relieving spasm and congestion; aiding calcium metabolism; and stimulating milk production after childbirth.
The light spectrum moves from the most warming and activating colors (infrared and red) to the most cool and relaxing colors (violet and ultraviolet). Green is the fulcrum or balance point of the spectrum, and is extensively used for balancing brain and body function and detoxification. In the works of both Mandel and Dinshah, opposite (or complementary) colors often are used together to balance body energetics. The most commonly used color pairs are orange-blue, red-green and yellow-violet. The yang and yin pairing would be as follows:
|Yang Color (warming, tonifying)||Yin Color (cooling, sedating)|
Whole Body Effects and the Autonomic Nervous System
Most contemporary researchers who have examined the electrophysiology of acupuncture have concluded that much of acupuncture's visceral effects take place through the autonomic nervous system. This includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches that excite and sedate organ and glandular functions. This system interfaces with the endocrine hormonal system in regulating most life functions.
The acupoints with the simplest and most direct input into the autonomic system are the auricular (ear) and back-shu points. Auricular points have direct input into the brain and cranial nerves that regulate this system; back-shu points are directly over autonomic ganglia that emerge from the spine, and have direct input into organs associated with each spinal segment. In my experience, these points are ideal ways to apply combined microcurrent and light energies to positively influence the body. Here are some practical examples:
1. Stimulation of master auricular points with colored light. In this case, a microcurrent device with a small (2-3mm) tip may be used to stimulate ear points with the addition of colored light. Either modality also may be used alone. When microcurrent is used, the counter (grounding) electrode may be held against a major facial acupoint such as yintang or Ren 24 to complete the circuit, while the trigger probe stimulates the ear points. Alternatively, the client can hold a hand mass to complete the circuit. Stimulate each ear master point for about 20 seconds. Master points can be stimulated bilaterally. Stimulation of the ear master points has a beneficial, general "tune-up" effect on the autonomic nervous system and endocrine gland systems of the body.
Select the color of the light applied to the ear points according to the patient's presentation. For example, green can be used for balance; violet for harmonization and emotional improvement; blue for sedative actions for pain and insomnia; and purple for clients in pain at the time of treatment. Other colors may be used according to health conditions.14
2. Microcurrent mu-shu technique. This is a powerful technique for balancing the electrical energies of the internal organs through the autonomic system. It utilizes polarized microcurrent probe treatment and a yin or yang color. For any organ needing treatment, place the positive probe on the associated front-mu (alarm) point and the negative probe on the associated back-shu point, on the same side. Treat bilaterally. When the front-mu point is on the central Ren channel, hold the counter probe there while treating the two back-shu points in turn. Treat these sets of points for 20-30 seconds each at 50-100 microamps. Set the frequency to 10 Hz or other indicated electrical frequency.15
Select organs to be treated through this technique based on the presentation of the patient. This can be determined through diagnostic systems such as pulse diagnosis or alarm point kinesiology.16 Simultaneous colored light can be added to enhance the effectiveness and carry-over of this technique. According to Mandel, the following color pairs correspond to each mu-shu pair:17
- Lungs, Kidneys, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder: Red/Green
- Pericardium, Heart, Spleen-Pancreas, Large Intestine: Orange/Blue
- Liver, Gall Bladder, Stomach, Triple Warmer: Yellow/Violet
Colors are selected by palpating the right and left back-shu points. Hot or painful points receive the yin color of the indicated pair; the other side receives the yang color. If both sides are painful, the yin color may be applied to both sides. Alarm points can be stimulated with the same color as the back-shu, or as indicated by muscle testing. Mandel recommended treating affected mu-shu combinations from the top of the body down.
This method is also excellent for balancing the electromagnetic aspect of the chakras. This will be discussed in a future article.
This brief article is merely an introduction to a vast subject. Further information can be found through the references following this article; questions and comments about this article can be directed to the author at the e-mail address listed below.
- Edited from definitions in Meriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.
- Vibrational medicine is the application of vibratory frequencies in the form of light; sound; electricity; magnetism; or subtle energy to the body for healing and regeneration. An excellent treatment is Vibrational Medicine, Bear & Co., 1988, by Richard Gerber.
- An Introduction to Esogetic Colorpuncture. Seminar notes.
- Microcurrent Electro-Acupuncture, chapter one, by Darren Starwynn. Desert Heart Press, 2002.
- Ibid, chapter two. Much valuable information can also be found by plugging these researchers' names into Google search engine.
- See The Body Electric by Robert Becker, Bear and Sons, 1985.
- Details are available in the book Light Years Ahead, Celestial Arts, 1996, available through Amazon.com.
- See chapter two of Colour Me Healing by Jack Allanach. Available from Amazon.com. Most of Popp's writings are only in German.
- Oschman J. Exploring the biology of phototherapy. Journal of Optometric Phototherapy 2001;1-9.
- Colour Me Healing, chapter 6. Information also derived from Google search under "Kaznachejew."
- Dinshah D. Let There Be Light. Dinshah Health Society (book available through their Web site).
- Peter Mandel is a German pioneer in the field of color therapies. See his Web site for available books and articles (www.colorpuncture.com/articles.html).
- Information on therapeutic effects of colors, and methods of application, can be found at www.eastwestmed.com.
- Microcurrent Electro-Acupuncture, pp. 108-111.
- Ibid, chapter 15.
- Adapted from Mandel's book Practical Compendium of Colorpuncture, Edition Energetik, 1986, available from Colorpuncture Institute, USA.
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