Acupuncture is an ancient healing art developed by the Chinese over 5000 years ago. Its philosophy and principles are so solid that they have changed little with time, and have now been validated by modern scientific research.

In order to understand acupuncture it helps to appreciate some aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine [of which acupuncture forms an integral part]. Acupuncture is often used together with Chinese herbs, massage, and nutritional advice.

For all living systems in the human body to function properly, and to work in harmony, they have to maintain balance. The Chinese have described this balance in terms of yin and yang, which represent opposite pole e.g. up and down, light and dark, cold and hot, male and female etc. They are graphically represented by the well-known symbol

The Life Force, Chi or Qi [pronounced “chee”] is said to circulate throughout the body with a diurnal [daily] rhythm to maintain the balance between yin and yang. This energy moves along pathways or meridians, which the Chinese have charted very precisely over thousands of years. There are 14 meridians, which link all the acupuncture points together. In a state of health, the Qi flows along these meridians without interruption. In disease or injury, this flow is interrupted or blocked, resulting in stagnation of the Qi, which produces the symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling, etc.

Qi can be accessed and manipulated via acupuncture points, which are small windows into this energy system of the body. The acupuncture points can be activated by means of needles, finger pressure, heat, suction cups, laser beams, or the SCIO. The correct stimulation of the relevant acupuncture points stores the free-flow of Qi, which results in relief of pain, improvement in function, and return of the body to health.

Laser Acupuncture is basically needle-less acupuncture and provides a great alternative to those who are afraid of, or squeamish about the use of needles.

With the laser wand, a beam of light is focused onto an acupuncture point, stimulating it in a way similar to the acupuncture needles. The laser beam is a visible red light cool to the touch. If it is focused on the acupuncture point for 10 or more seconds it may heat up the acupuncture point slightly. This warming effect varies from person to person.

During the Laser Acupuncture treatment, I hold the beam steadily on an acupuncture point for a period that can range from ten seconds all the way up to two minutes. The duration of the beam depends on the amount of tissue the laser must penetrate, and the power I would have applied on the point using needles.

In a therapeutic program, the Laser Acupuncture stimulates the acupuncture points, producing the same effect as the needles.

No More Fear

Patients who are anxious or fearful of needles (such as children) prefer Laser Acupuncture. Though treatment with needles is normally painless, the fear of needles is a common concern, often creating tension and anxiety in a patient.

The laser treatment is a noninvasive procedure than can often be faster than an acupuncture treatment with needles. Laser Acupuncture can treat the same range of problems and conditions as traditional acupuncture.

Benefits of Laser Acupuncture

The benefits of Laser Acupuncture are similar to acupuncture with needles. Over the past year I have used the laser system to treat many of the conditions I would have treated with traditional Acupuncture. The results have surpassed my expectations and most conditions respond very well to the laser treatments.

I have has especially good results with pain relief. The laser unit can be used to treat pain conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and many types of arthritis. I have also found Laser Therapy to be effective in reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing and in speeding up soft tissue repairs.

How is Laser Therapy administered? 

Treatment is very simple –: the laser probe is held at a small distance above or in contact with the acupuncture point. The time each acupuncture point is targeted depends on the type of acupuncture point, and the distance the acupuncture point is from the surface of the skin.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Laser Acupuncture? 

I have been using laser treatments with a large number of health conditions. Pain and inflammation reduction have been extremely successful. If an acupuncture point is very deep under the surface, it is best treated with needles. Most conditions are responsive to laser treatments.

Is Laser Acupuncture Therapy Effective? 

YES. Most patients respond very well to laser therapy. However, no treatment works for everyone. If you do not respond well to the laser treatments, we will discuss the alternative traditional therapy.

Is Laser Acupuncture New? 

No. Laser Therapy was pioneered in Europe and has been in use for over 40 years. Its’ effectiveness has been documented in more than 3000 papers, which have been published in scientific journals. There have been more than 100 double-blind trials.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years. It is an alternative to more invasive treatments and to drugs and over the counter medications. If you have not tried acupuncture due to the use of needles … the modern alternative is needle-less acupuncture using totally pain free laser treatment.Give me a call to discuss whether acupuncture is an alternative for YOU!

Wendy Lind

The earliest experimental   application of low power laser in medicine was firstreported in 1968 by Endre Mester in Hungary. Hedescribed the use of Ruby and Argon lasers in thepromotion of healing of chronic ulcers. In 1974, HeinrichPlogg of Fort Coulombe, Canada, presented his work on theuse of “needleless acupuncture” and painattenuation. The first clinical applications of theGaAlAs diode laser appeared in the literature in 1981.

Since then a multitude ofdevices, from many different countries, generating avariety of laser beams of varying power, wavelengths,  frequencies and claims of clinical effects have beenbrought onto the market.

Its use is now widespreadin almost every medical speciality, especiallydermatology, ophthalmology and medical acupuncture.

Japan and severalScandinavian countries are at the forefront of clinicalresearch work with laser. Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)  is also used in Australia, Canada, France, Korea, People’s Republic of China, U.K. and many othercountries. A tissue repair research unit, examining theeffects of laser, now exists at Guy’s Hospital, London. Many centres of research are now developing around theworld.

It is to be noted thatlasers machines are used widely by physiotherapists,  veterinary estheticianss3 as well as practitioners ofalternate therapies. It is unregulated by any authorityat the present time, apart from the need for theequipment to conform to Australian standard safetyregulations.

The aim of thisposition paper is to present the current views, on theuse of laser, of the Australian Medical AcupunctureCollege.

The photo-chemical effectsof light in medicine are well known e.g. blue light isabsorbed by bilirubin and thus undergoes photo-chemicalchange. This is the basis of the treatment of neonataljaundice. Another use is that of ultraviolet light totreat psoriasis in PUVA treatment. The use of laser as amechanism to induce photo-chemical changes in tissues isan extension of this effect.

Laser has threecharacteristics which make it different from ordinarylight. It is monochromatic, parallel and coherent. It isthe last characteristic which is the most significantfactor in skin penetration, thus allowing aphoto-chemical effect to occur in deeper tissues.  Absorption spectra1 can be plotted for any chemical orbiological system. In any clinical setting the absorptionof laser and hence its biological effect depend upon skinpigmentation, amount of fat, water and vascularcongestion of tissues.

Penetration of laser intotissues falls off at an exponential fashion. Thusincrease of laser power applied to tissues does notresult in a linear increase in biological effect.

Once absorbed aphotochemical effect can be induced by the followingmechanisms

1. Neural: Laser causes invitro changes in nerve action potentials, conductionvelocities and distal latencies. Experimental evidenceincludes Bishko’s work in Vienna where he demonstratedsignificant pain relief following low power HeNe andinfra-red laser stimulation of acupuncture points.  Walker demonstrated increased levels of serotonin inchronic pain patients after treatment with low power HeNelaser46.

2.Photoactivation ofenzymes: one photon can activate one enzyme moleculewhich in turn can process thousands of substratemolecules1. This mechanism provides a theoreticalframework in which a very small amount of energy cancause a very significant biological effects.

Primary photoacceptors,  which are activated by laser, are thought to be flavins,  cytochromes (pigments in the respiratory chain of cells)  and porphyrins 14,15. They are located in mitochondria.  They can convert laser energy to electro-chemical energy.

It is postulated that thefollowing reaction is activated by laser1:

Low doses of laserstimulation ATP in mitochondria activation of the Ca++  pump Ca++ in the cytoplasm (via ion channels) cellmitosis cell proliferation. Higher doses of laserstimulation hyperactivity of the Ca++/ATPase pump andexhaust the ATP reserves of the cell failure to maintainosmotic pressure cell explodes.

3. Vibrational androtational changes in cell membrane molecules: Infra-redradiation results in rotation and vibration of moleculesin the cell membrane leading to activation of the Ca++  pump as in the cascade above.

Different wavelengths maystimulate different tissue responses which may besynergistic and thus produce better clinical effects.

It is essential that basicparameters of laser physics are understood by thepractitioner in order to achieve the best results in anygiven clinical setting.

Vibrational androtational changes in cell membrane molecules: Infra-redradiation results in rotation and vibration of moleculesin the cell membrane leading to activation of the Ca++  pump as in the cascade above.

Different wavelengths maystimulate different tissue responses which may besynergistic and thus produce better clinical effects.

It is essential that basicparameters of laser physics are understood by thepractitioner in order to achieve the best results in anygiven clinical setting.

Wavelength:The wavelengthof a laser is determined by the medium from which it isgenerated. Wavelengths of low power lasers in commonclinical use in Australia today are 632.8nm ( HeliumNeon, gas) in the visible light range, 810nm (Gallium/ Aluminium /Arsenide, diode) and 904 nm

(Gallium/Arsenide,  diode) in the infra red region of the light spectrum.  Other wavelengths are used more commonly in surgicalsettings. The wavelength is the prime determinant oftissue penetration. Lasers which penetrate less

deeplyare suitable for acupuncture point stimulation andbiostimulation. Infra red lasers penetrate more deeplyand are used in deeper tissue stimulation such as triggerpoints.

Energy:Energy is a measure of thedose of laser given in any treatment.

Laser energy, in joules, iscalculated from the formula:

Joules = Watts x Seconds

It can be seen from thisformula that energy, expressed as joules, is related tothe power of the laser and the duration of irradiation sothat a higher power laser takes less time to generate therequired number of joules than a lower power laser. Therange of powers of laser devices used in Australia variesfrom 1.5 to 100 mW. Principles of laser dosing should beunderstood by users as some clinical effects, especiallywith higher power lasers, appear to be dose related.  Acupuncture points are stimulated with energy rangingfrom 0.01- 0.05 joules/point while trigger points may bestimulated with 1-2 joules/point or higher, depending onthe tissue depth.

Energy Density :Thisparameter is used in the calculation of doses forbiostimulation of wounds and is calculated as:

Energy density (J/cm2) =  Watts x Seconds/Area of laser spot size (cm2)

4J/cm2 is regarded as theoptimal dose for biostimulation, based on empiricalfindings.

Power Density :This is ameasure of the potential thermal effect of laser and isfixed by the characteristics of the machine for any givenpower output and spot size. It is calculated from theformula:

Power density (Watts/cm2) =  Watts/area of the probe tip (cm2) 10,000mW/cm2 willproduce a sensation of heat

A wide range of conditionsare amenable to management by laser2,3,4,5, 42. Many ofthese include conditions not amenable to or unresponsiveto current drug or physical therapies such asosteoarthritis16,18, back pain17, post-herpeticneuralgia19,20 , chronic pelvic inflammation44 andrheumatoid arthritis22,31.

Laser may be used in threedifferent ways

1. To stimulate acupuncturepoints

Laser is used to stimulateacupuncture points using the same rules of pointselection as needle acupuncture. Laser acupuncture may beused solely or in combination with needles for any givencondition over a course of treatment.

2. To treat trigger points

In some musculo-skeletalconditions higher doses of laser may be used for thedeactivation of trigger points. Trigger points may befound in muscles, ligaments, tendons and periosteum.  Direct irradiation over tendons, joint margins, bursaeetc may be effective in the treatment of conditions inwhich trigger points may play a part. Children and theelderly may require smaller doses. Areas of thick skin ormuscle may require higher doses for penetration thanfiner skin areas e.g. ear.

Biologically, the laser bio-stimulation will increase the cell production in connective, tendonous, and cartilaginous tissue. This results in increased collagen production. Research demonstrates that the laser affects the mitochondria thereby enhancing the production and synthesis of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) and optimizes oxygenation and phagocytes.

The healing process increases the tensile strength of healed tissue, reduces swelling, increases blood flow, increases lymphatic activity, reduces inflammation and increases cellular metabolism and speeds the repair process. The results are accumulative.

The healing process increases the tensile strength of healed tissue, reduces swelling, increases blood flow, increases lymphatic activity, reduces inflammation and increases cellular metabolism and speeds the repair process. The results are accumulative.

With painless, non-invasive laser acupuncture, we work with Class IIIb lasers (5 to 500 mW). One can start to burn the skin at greater than 500 mW (Class IV lasers). With laser acupuncture, we also primarily only work with wavelengths in the red-beam range (600 – 700 nm) and in the near infrared-beam range (800 – 1000 nm).

The red-beam laser has only a shallow penetration, around 0.8 of one mm, direct energy – used on acupuncture points on the hand, foot (not the heel), face, or sometimes the ear. The red-beam is fine for the shallow Jing-Well points on the foot. For example, Bladder 67, for breech position, 5 minutes per day, the last few weeks of pregnancy (Jin, 1998). It has a 85% success rate according to Dr. Jin.Jin Y. 1998. Handbook of Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine – An Integrated Approach. Seattle, WA, Eastland Press. p. 114 The red-beam laser is usually 600 – 700 nm wavelength; and less than 500 mW. How many joules do you want to use? How many joules per cm square? These are all very important facts for you to know, before you start using the lasers. For example, a 5 mW laser lecture pointer pen with a 5 mm diameter aperture requires a minimum of 3 minutes exposure time on an acupuncture point, to have approximately 4.59 joules per cm square. Some think that the anti-inflammatory effect, and the improved circulation effect starts at a minimum of 4 joules per cm square.

Laser acupuncture is a form of acupuncture stimulation which has proven to be a safe effective alternative to standard acupuncture treatment.

For quality products designed for Laser Acupuncture

For more information on what Laser Acupuncture is and how it works

4 Distinct Effects

1.Growth factor response within cells and tissues.

2.Pain relief as a result of increased endorphin and serotonin release.

3.Increased lymphatic activity and strengthening of the immune system response.

4.Stimulation of acupuncture points, increased collagen and ATP production, increased circulation. Treatment is non-destructive, safe, and painless. The more you use it, the more effective the results.

FAQ

What points work best for my problem?

There are no specific, cookbook-type treatment protocols available with low-level laser acupuncture, just as there are no specific, cookbook-type treatment protocols with needle acupuncture. The practitioner needs, rather, a sophisticated knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and understanding of the actions of the acupuncture points, to be a successful practitioner with laser acupuncture.

I do not recommend practicing only with laser acupuncture, rather, I recommend adding it to the collection of acupuncture modalities – i.e., acupuncture needles, microamps electrical stimulation, moxibustion, cupping, Chinese herbal medicine, ion pumping cords, magnet therapies, etc. In America, it is now required that one have a minimum of 1,725 hours of acupuncture training, before one can take the acupuncture exam for certification in acupuncture, from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

I hope the information provided below will be helpful. Thank you for your interest in low-level laser acupuncture.

For a referral to a licensed acupuncturist who has studied laser acupuncture, please call the American Association of Oriental Medicine, in Catasauqua, PA, 610-266-1433. They can often sort referrals by zip code.

How does this work? How can I learn to do it?

The area of low-level laser acupuncture is complex. Unfortunately there is no single laser that will do everything, and I do not recommend any specific lasers, I conduct laser acupuncture research with carpal tunnel syndrome, and formerly, with stroke patients with paralysis (acupuncture and laser acupuncture to treat paralysis in stroke, referenced in publications, at the end).

Licensed acupuncturists who want to know more about laser acupuncture might consider purchasing one of the publications (listed below) that have been published for this purpose or attending a two-day class I teach for CEU’s at the New England School of Acupuncture, Watertown, MA, near Boston entitled:

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ACUPUNCTURE?

As acupuncture is so safe, it is always worth trying, before resorting to drugs and surgery, which themselves often have side effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs are the conventional mainstay of treatment for musculo-skeletal conditions, but are notorious for causing unwanted irritation of the stomach and intestines. Excessive painkillers can also damage the kidneys. In many instances, surgery can be avoided with acupuncture, or at least the condition can be improved to the point where fewer drugs are needed to obtain relief.

On the other hand, many conditions that have failed to respond to conventional treatment can be eased [thus enabling a reduction in drug therapy] or cured.