Lions, Tigers and Imaginary Meridians
You've probably heard about the boy who wrote" The Equator is a menagerie lion running around the Earth". Well, I have crossed the Equator several times and not seen a lion, or a line, for that matter. But that is not to say it does not exist. Lines of latitude and longitude are not visible on the Earth's surface either, but they are useful when navigating. Meridians are notional lines connecting acupuncture points on the body. Critics of acupuncture sometimes claim that meridians do not exist because they cannot be demonstrated when dissecting a cadaver the way nerves and blood vessels can be. They are functional, not structural. Acupuncture points can be identified by differences in electrical resistance of the skin compared to surrounding areas. Trigger points cannot be be demonstrated in a cadaver either, as they disappear on death.
Possessing a curious mind and a strong desire to make sense of the differences between Eastern and Western medicine, I appreciated the work of various Western-trained physicians who have demonstrated that many acupuncture points correlate well with known anatomical structures such as motor end-points (where nerves stimulate muscles), sites were nerves pierce fascia - where the nerves can be constricted by shearing forces, or where they exit through openings in bones. About 75% of the most common trigger points are also acupuncture points. The classical tender points required for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are also acupuncture points.
Fascia is the thick white firm connective tissue which separates muscles, surrounds the brain and nerves, envelopes the organs and delineates the different compartments in the body. Recently I re-read (it was that good!) a fascinating book: The Spark in the Machine - How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine by Dr Daniel Keown. Dr Keown is an emergency room physician and acupuncturist in the UK who relates a number of successful case reports of acupuncture treatment in the ER. But the most interesting aspect of the book is how he shows how acupuncture meridians correlate with the embryological development of different anatomical structures in the body, particularly fascial lines. East meets West in embryology.
When bringing up Eastern medical concepts among medical colleagues one sometimes feels as though one is entering tiger country. Perhaps some latitude could be given to different ways of approaching the same human condition.
David is a fan of books and no doubt will be sharing some good reads here.