The State of Acupuncture in Modern Russia
The Magazine of the Anglo-Dutch Institute for Oriental Medicine. Summer '96 - 6: 8-9.
The first report on acupuncture in Russia was published in 1828 in the Military Medical Journal by P. Charukovsky, a professor at the Medical-Surgical Academy (Charukovsky, 1828), but no real interest in the practical application of acupuncture was shown until the mid-1950s. At this time, a group of physicians went to China to study acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. By 1976, a special Central Research Institute of Reflexotherapy was created in Moscow.
In present-day Russia, there are several universities, which have departments of traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, most of them being housed within the departments of neurology; this is due to the fact that Pavlov's reflexological theories continue to be the official explanations for the biological and therapeutic effects of acupuncture (Kipervas, 1994). Throughout Russia, acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine seminars and conferences are regularly held; there are numerous books and several journals on these topics, and physicians are taught acupuncture at special courses.
Various forms of traditional medicines are presently taught in Russia; these include not only aspects of Chinese medicine (acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tai Qi Chuan, Qi Gong) but also Korean traditional medicine (Su Jok or “Hand and Foot Acupuncture”), but Indian medicine as well (Ayurveda and Yoga). However, Acupuncture can only be practiced by western-trained physicians. Officially recognized courses in acupuncture are offered at the state medical universities or institutes and these comprise three months* (full time) of lectures, seminars and practical sessions at the end of which, a final exam must be passed in order to obtain a certificate in acupuncture. Most of these courses pay a great deal of attention to the localization of Acupoints and trajectories of the channels, but only a few leach traditional Chinese medical theory and diagnosis, including taking of the pulse.
The indications for acupuncture treatment in Russia are various and depend on the interests and skills of the individual physicians. However, Russian law forbids administering acupuncture instead of conventional medical treatment to treat cancer, surgical conditions or infectious diseases. Nevertheless, there is no enforcement of this rule in treating patients during the terminal phases of disease.
Present research into acupuncture is directed to reveal and understand the mechanisms which underlie the biological and therapeutic effects of this technique. Questions such as: how does acupuncture influence the immune status? How does it affect hormone, prostaglandin and endorphin plasma levels? Can the effects be measured using heat monitors? Are currently addressed by Russian researchers (Vogralic, 1988; Runov, 1993).
In addition to the classical acupuncture and moxibustion techniques, new modalities, such as electro-acupuncture, laser acupuncture, ultra-sonic acupuncture and Voll's therapy, sometimes with other treatments, such as homoeopathy, are used.
New methods of acupuncture are being developed; since the mid-1980s to date, two new methods - microwave resonance therapy (MRT) and Extremely high frequency (EHF) puncture - based on biological effects of low intensity electromagnetic radiation (EMR) of a millimeter band, have been created (Andreyev et al., 1985; Teppone et al., 1991; 1996).
The basis of MRT is a hypothesis that each organism has its own characteristic frequency. During the initial MRT treatment, the therapist can affect the patient's acupoints by means of MM-EMR. Radiation frequencies are then changed and the patient's sensory reaction are observed and noted. Any pleasurable sensation appearing at the target or “sick” organ serve as the criteria for individualization of the therapeutic frequency used; this particular frequency is then applied throughout the entire course of treatment.
In order to investigate the phenomenon of sensory reactions during EHF therapy, the temperature at the skin projections of acupoints was monitored; we found that sensory reactions were accompanied by temperature changes at the acupoints of the channels corresponding to these sensory reactions. Subsequent research found that sensory reactions occurring during MRT were the same as the “arrival of Qi” as described in traditional Chinese medicine texts (Teppone et al., 1995). An additional study revealed that it was the zone-acupoint where the radiation had been applied during EHF therapy, which enhanced the treatment and not the MM-EMR frequency (Teppone et al., 1991). Individualization of acupoints was most effective, in accordance with TCM principles (Teppone et al, 1991). This combination of different biological effects of MM-EMR and TCM acupuncture theory resulted in the creation of EHF puncture (Teppone et al., 1991).
I believe that EHF successfully integrates modern technology and ancient theory. It is a non-invasive, painless and very efficient treatment for many diseases of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. One of the important features of EHF puncture is its capacity to stimulate different kinds of “arrival of Qi” phenomena ranging from propagated sensations along the channels to complex visceral sensations including visualizations and dreams.
The present day state of acupuncture in modern Russia confirms the idea that the past and the future remain connected - an ancient knowledge has helped us devise new methods of treatment, but at the same time, modern technology has thrown new light on old problems.
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