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Beginning to practice acupuncture may at times be overwhelming with so many points to remember. The anatomical positions of over 380 classical acupuncture points would be challenging for a fair few of us to keep at the forefront of our memory, especially those which are used less frequently. How helpful to have such a book available to provide an aide memoire!
Christopher Norris is obviously an experienced practitioner given his role as approved tutor for the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, and his position on the British Acupuncture Council. He has written a book, now in its second edition, to provide a handy reference for other practitioners.
Although slightly larger than the average pocket, this is a neat, portable light weight book which is helpful for those requiring a little help with remembering specific point locations during busy clinics. It is written from both a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medical acupuncture (WMA) approach, although seems slightly in favour of TCM practice in some of the point use descriptions given.
Initially, there is a useful basic revision of cun measurements. Then follows the main components of the book. Each point, along all 18 meridians, is described in detail, including the anatomical landmarks to locate it, the depth and angle of needle insertion recommended and the possible uses of that point both from a TCM and a WMA perspective. There is a colour diagram highlighting the location of each point, and bony landmarks to aid location. To avoid potential pitfalls and problems at a given point, there is an additional note highlighting the concerning feature—for example, the position of the radial artery at LU. This is a superb reminder to help safer practice and avoid complications.
While there are excellent descriptions of anatomical locations of classical points, the information about the use of each point is limited. The author discusses the indication for needling in minimal detail, and certainly mainly from the traditional perspective. For example, GB34 is described as useful for all major joint pain owing to its properties as the influential point for muscle and tendon, and also the heavenly star point for cold Bi syndrome. This may be a clearer description to those practising traditional Chinese acupuncture. However, there may be an assumption that practitioners using this book will have selected their points and are just in need of a reminder of their location. Therefore inclusion of major detail was not a priority.
The final section is a summary of possible acupuncture treatments and a concise description of different types of points from a traditional perspective. For those not well versed in TCM, this may make little sense. As always, these nuggets of information may add to any practitioner's treatment plan, either TCM or WMA based, for a variety of conditions, without the need for a deep understanding of TCM. As a Western medical acupuncturist, I found it interesting and enlightening to have a little more information about TCM.
With all of these ‘pocketbook’ guides, of which there are a few, it must be difficult to know how much detail to include without the guide becoming a full-blown descriptive text book. Certainly, the author has done a superb job in providing a reference guide. Also, there are so many ways to present the information. Do you discuss each possible condition and possible points to use, followed by a recap of its anatomical location, providing a somewhat prescriptive guide for treatments, or, as in this case, assume prior knowledge of which point is being used for a given condition, and provide easy access to the information about its location? Every practitioner has different needs, so this helpful and concise reference guide may not suit everyone. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer.
However, the book is ideal as a clear guide to precise point locations, and there is added detail about their possible use in practice from both TCM and WMA perspectives.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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