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Ling Shu

Ling Shu, also known as Spiritual Pivot, is the earliest acupuncture book written. Composed of eighty-one chapters, Ling Shu is consists of the dialogue between Dr. Qibo and student Huangdi. Their detailed discussion covers all aspects of acupuncture: the theory of meridians, the pathways and functions of each meridian, point location and application, different acupuncture techniques, and so on. Dr. Qibo also discusses the pathology of and treatments for many diseases. It is no surprise that Ling Shu is called  Acupuncture Canon by all acupuncturists. The following is a brief introduction of the book.  

According to Ling Shu, our body consists of six pairs of balance systems, called the twelve meridians; each meridian connects to one internal organ and a certain exterior location of the body. Each meridian responds to certain functions of the body. These twelve meridians are known as systems of respiration, immunity, metabolism, endocrine, and others in modern Western medicine. 

For example, Ling Shu chapter ten states that asthma is caused by an imbalance of the Lung meridian. Ling Shu chapter two discusses a connection between points on the forearm and the lungs. Therefore, with precision, an acupuncturist is able to needle those points on the forearm to re-balance the Lung meridian, relieving asthma. 

Ling Shu also discusses needling technique as it corresponds to the theory of meridians. In chapter twelve, Dr. Qibo describes the approximate duration a needle should be retained for each meridin. For those who have experienced acupuncture, you may recall the treatment as a process of lying on the bed for fifteen to thirty minutes with needles on your body. This is the proper method to treat muscle problems such as neck stiffness or lower back pain. However, in cases of imbalanced meridians related to allergies, asthma, or multiple sclerosis, retaining the needle for the same duration is against the pinciple of acupuncture in Ling Shu

For example, Dr. Qibo states that the longest time to retain the needle on the stomach meridian should be no more than one minute. What happens if the needle retaining time is longer than the correct time mentioned in Ling Shu? It becomes acupuncture malpractice and, consequentially, the patient's condition will worsen. 

We still have a lot to learn from Ling Shu. Research remains ongoing, as new developments in our understanding of the human body and health continue to be made, and acupuncture is likewise advanced. 

For those interested, I have published the book Ling Shu Acupuncture, a comprehensive research text dedicated to interpreting this classic book. Here are the links to order in English and Chinese.

Is there any further development in Acupuncture after the publication of Ling Shu?


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